1st grade physical activity recommendations: Here's what you need to know

Learn how to raise a healthy, physically active first-grader.

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By Aisha Labi

Engaging in regular physical activity is especially important for young children, as it helps build strength and develop healthy bodies, and can even enhance academic performance. Here are physical activity recommendations for your first-grader.

Physical activity

Benefits

The benefits to your child of physical activity can include:

  • Improved development of gross and fine motor skills
  • Increased self-sufficiency and confidence
  • Improvements in learning
  • Better sleep
  • Weight management
  • Improved social skills
  • Decreased time spent watching TV or playing with computers
  • Decreased risk for chronic diseases later in life

60 minutes

The US Department of Health and Human Services recommends that children aged six and seven participate in at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day. This does not need to be 60 minutes of sustained activity at a time, but can include different episodes of activity that, added together, total 60 minutes or more. Children should be engaged in a mix of activity levels. These should include vigorous activities, such as running around playing tag, and more moderate activities, such as using a scooter.

Children in first grade do not need a structured exercise regimen, but physical activity should be a part of their everyday activities, with an emphasis on having fun and playing.

Weekly activity

The guidelines recommend that children engage in vigorous physical activity at least three times a week.

Building muscle

Building muscle strength is especially important for children at this age and exercise is one of the main ways to achieve this goal. Muscle-strengthening activities are those that force the muscles to do more than their normal workload. For young children, the most effective muscle-building activities include swinging from monkey bars and playing games such as tug-of-war that require extra exertion. The guidelines recommend that children engage in muscle-strengthening activities at least three times a week.

Bone strength

Building bone strength is also important for growing children. Bone-strengthening exercises promote bone growth and build strength through the force that is exerted on the bones. Exercises that achieve this important goal include running, skipping rope, and playing hopscotch. The guidelines recommend that children engage in bone-strengthening activities at least three times a week.

Learn more about keeping your child healthy with our first grade physical health tips and physical development pages.

Parent Toolkit resources were developed by NBC News Learn with the help of subject-matter experts, including Dr. Natasha Burgert, Pediatrician, Pediatric Associates and Dr. Jayne Greenberg, District Director, Miami-Dade County Public Schools.