Why don't children get enough exercise?

Barriers to an active lifestyle are very real, and I see them in my practice every day. They include:

  • Lack of energy, possibly due to poor sleep, poor nutrition, or medical ailment. If your child seems low on energy, a trip to the pediatrician may be in order to ensure that your child is healthy physically. A more well-balanced diet may boost energy level in a healthy child.
  • Lack of motivation, which can be caused by poor role-modeling, peer pressure, lack of options, or burnout. If you find that a lack of motivation and time constraints is your doing, it’s definitely time to reevaluate your lifestyle. Ask a trusted friend to help you figure out what obligations you might have that don’t add value to your family’s life. Don’t be shy; it’s possible they are thinking the same thing you are! You can join heads and find ways to carve out time for more family activity.
  • Time constraints, due to an overcrowded schedule or a poorly planned one.
  • Social factors, such as poor self-esteem, lack of confidence in athletic abilities, shyness.
  • Environmental barriers, such as extreme weather conditions, limited parks or yards, and unsafe neighborhoods.

From Good Kids, Bad Habits: The RealAge Guide to Raising Healthy Children by Jennifer Trachtenberg.

Good Kids, Bad Habits: The RealAge Guide to Raising Healthy Children

More About this Book

Good Kids, Bad Habits: The RealAge Guide to Raising Healthy Children

When kids start going on TV binges or devouring fistfuls of cookies, it's easy to say, "They'll grow out of it." More likely, they're acquiring bad habits that could lead to childhood obesity and...
There are several reasons children are not getting enough exercise. One reason is the advent of modern technology. Video games and television are taking away what used to be considered traditional “play-time.” Further, these are activities often performed for hours indoors, without burning many calories. Children should be encouraged to get at least an hour of vigorous exercise on a daily basis. This play-time is important for youths to develop motor skills required in daily activity and sports.
Diana K. Blythe, MD

There are many reasons why children do not get enough exercise. Sometimes they lack a safe place to play or someone to watch them outside. Other times, it is simply not a family priority. If parents do not exercise, children are less likely to exercise. 

Two of the best ways to encourage at least sixty minutes of daily exercise for your children are exercising with them or involving them in a group sport. There are benefits to each of these activities. By exercising with the family, everyone benefits. By taking the group sport approach they are both active and learning social skills.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.