Active Kids = Healthier Kids

boy on playground at preschool

Everyone knows that an active lifestyle leads to better health.  This is also true for young children.  In today’s busy world, it can be hard to make time for activity, especially in the cold winter months.  Experts recommend, however, that children under the age of six be physically active for at least three hours per day.  That includes activities such as energetic play, cycling, dancing, or even going for a walk.  Research has shown that maintaining this activity level has many health benefits including:

  • strengthens bones and muscles
  • strengthens heart and lungs
  • improve coordination, posture, balance, and flexibility
  • help maintain a healthy weight
  • reduce the risk of serious diseases later in life including heart disease and type II diabetes

While the physical impacts of being active are fairly obvious, there are equally important non-physical benefits for young children.  Children that participate in three hours of activity per day are more likely to:

  • have high self-esteem and sense of belonging
  • sleep better and more consistently
  • be able to concentrate at school
  • make friends
  • learn to share and take turns
children outside at park
young girl on playground at preschool

Even though physical activity is important, and often fun, for young children, it is not without risk.  In the US about 60% of children’s ER visits are for injuries.  In young children these injuries are often cuts/scrapes, broken bones, sprain/strain injuries, and unfortunately, traumatic brain injuries.  It is impossible to remove all risk from children’s activities but minimizing risks is very important.  Risk mitigation for young children basically consists of protecting them from inevitable falls and making sure they are playing in a safe environment.  This includes:

  • wearing a helmet when cycling
  • wearing wrist/elbow guards when appropriate
  • teaching kids to avoid areas with traffic
  • playgrounds with safer play surfaces
  • protecting against hard, sharp corners in the house

By taking these steps your child can stay active and have fun while staying safe.  Hopefully they, and you, will enjoy the benefits of an active lifestyle for years to come. 

dr. nolan mitchell


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