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Just like adults, kids need exercise. Most children need at least an hour of physical activity every day. Regular exercise helps children:
- Feel less stressed
- Feel better about themselves
- Feel more ready to learn in school
- Keep a healthy weight
- Build and keep healthy bones, muscles and joints
- Sleep better at night
As kids spend more time watching TV, they spend less time running and playing. Parents should limit TV, video game and computer time. Parents can set a good example by being active themselves. Exercising together can be fun for everyone. Competitive sports can help kids stay fit. Walking or biking to school, dancing, bowling and yoga are some other ways for kids to get exercise.
For more on motivating kids to be active and finding fitness for those who don't like sports, read it here:
Motivating kids to be active
Helping kids who hate sports be fit
The importance of sleep is undervalued. Here are some basic guidelines:
3-6 Years Old: 10 - 12 hours per day
Children at this age typically go to bed between 7 and 9 p.m. and wake up around 6 and 8 a.m., just as they did when they were younger. At 3, most children are still napping, while at 5, most are not. Naps gradually become shorter as well. New sleep problems do not usually develop after 3 years of age.
7-12 Years Old: 10 - 11 hours per day
At these ages, with social, school, and family activities, bedtimes gradually become later and later, with most 12-years-olds going to bed at about 9 p.m. There is still a wide range of bedtimes, from 7:30 to 10 p.m., as well as total sleep times, from 9 to 12 hours, although the average is only about 9 hours.
12-18 Years Old: 8 - 9 hours per day
Sleep needs remain just as vital to health and well-being for teenagers as when they were younger. It turns out that many teenagers actually may need more sleep than in previous years. Be aware social pressures conspire against getting the proper amount and quality of sleep.