Engaging in regular physical activity is especially important for young children, as it builds strength and develops healthy bodies, and can even enhance academic performance. By fifth grade some children, especially girls, may be experiencing the onset of puberty and their physical activity habits will need to keep pace with their rapidly changing bodies. Below are recommendations to help keep your fifth-grader healthy and active.
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 risk for chronic diseases later in life
- Decreased television, video game, cellphone, and computer use
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that children and adolescents 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, together, total 60 minutes or more. Children should be engaged in a variety of activities that require different degrees of exertion. These should include vigorous activities, such as running, and more moderate activities, such as brisk walking.
Children in fifth grade do not necessarily need a structured exercise regimen if physical activity is a part of their everyday activities. Many children this age are starting to become active in organized sports, which can be an excellent way for them to get the recommended amounts of physical activity and establish regular exercise habits that can become the basis of lifelong fitness.
The guidelines recommend that children and adolescents engage in vigorous physical activity at least three times a week.
Building muscle strength is especially important for children and adolescents, and exercise is key to achieving this goal. Muscle-strengthening activities are those that force the muscles to do more than the normal workload and should include all the major muscle groups of the body. Examples of muscle-strengthening activities include climbing, sit-ups, and push-ups. The guidelines recommend that children and adolescents engage in muscle-strengthening activities at least three times a week.
Building bone strength is also important for growing children and adolescents. Bone-strengthening exercises 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.
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.