Categories: Paediatrics

Physical Activity

What are the benefits of physical activity?

  • Healthy weight
  • A sense of wellbeing
  • Better sleep
  • Strong muscles and bones
  • Good health – Decreased risk of developing type 2 diabetes and other diseases

How much physical activity is needed?

  • Ideally 60 minutes a day of vigorous physical activity or play – More the better
  • Minimum 20 minutes a day of vigorous physical activity or play
  • A variety of non-competitive activities like running, cycling or aerobics
  • Minimum 5 days a week

Tips for motivating children to be active

  • Make exercise and activity sound like fun and fashionable
  • Set a positive example by leading an active lifestyle yourself
  • Be active as a family – take family walks or play active games together
  • Allow enough time for free play – helps burn more calories and is more fun
  • Gift sports equipment’s to encourage physical activity. E.g. knee pads, helmets or wrist pads
  • Create opportunities for being active – take kids to public parks, gardens or clubs
  • Encourage participation and praise efforts at being active
  • Make physical activity fun – non-structured activity or structured sports
  • Limit sedentary activities, such as watching TV, being online and playing video games
  • Set a regular schedule for physical activity
  • Encourage activities which the child is good at and enjoys. This builds confidence
  • Avoid activities the child is not good at or dislikes. This can cause frustration and negativity
  • Choose the right activities for a child’s age: If not, the child may be bored or frustrated
  • Consider the child’s temperament.
  • A mild-mannered child who might not be comfortable playing football, but may like the challenge of karate
  • An active child might not have the patience and control required for ballet but is well-suited to a fast-paced activity like football
  • Get Started – The biggest hurdle is to start. Once they begin it becomes easier
  • Keep Going – For at least 100 days. That will make them good at it and like it and commit

What counts as physical activity?

It is important to regularly do 3 different types of activities:


How often?  At least 3 days per week

Examples Cycling, dancing, martial arts, skipping, sports and running


  • Promotes endurance
  • Helps control weight
  • Improves cardiovascular fitness
  • Lowers blood pressure and cholesterol


How often? At least 3 days per week

Examples Tug of war, hopscotch, jungle gyms, climbing and gymnastics


  • Strengthens muscles
  • Promotes stability for movement
  • Reduces risk of injury


How often? At least 3 days per week

Examples Gymnastics, yoga, football, badminton, and cycling


  • Helps to move around efficiently
  • Improves awareness of body
  • Promotes self-confidence

Dr. Mahesh Balsekar | Senior Consultant – Paediatrics | SRCC Children’s Hospital, Mumbai

Narayana Health

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