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Exercise Can Help Kids Win Weight Battles

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention, obesity rates for children aged 2 to 19 years in the United States are alarmingly high. For example, approximately 14 percent of US children aged 2 to 5 years, 18 percent of US children aged 6 to 11 years, and 20 percent of US children aged 12 to 19 years are obese.1 Statistics such as these suggest the need for strategies that can help kids achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

The good news is that research shows a combination of regular exercise/physical activity and a balanced nutrition plan can help children lose weight and maintain a healthy weight over the long term.2

If your child is struggling with weight problems,
your Summit Medical Group pediatrician.

Your child’s doctor can assess his or her weight and growth needs
and provide recommendations to help achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

Once your child gets a green light from the doctor to exercise regularly, he or she should focus on getting 1 or more hours of moderate and vigorous physical activity 6 to 7 days per week.1 In addition to exercising all at one time, your child can benefit from shorter (15-minute) periods of exercise throughout the day. If your child is not used to regular exercise/activity, shorter periods of activity throughout the day will likely be easier and more fun for your child.

Encourage your child to avoid long periods (2 or more hours)
of inactivity during the day.

Your child’s exercise/activity can include walking, running, hiking, cycling, karate, fencing, skateboarding, ice skating, skiing/snowboarding, canoeing/kayaking, and swimming; neighborhood games and free play; chores such as vacuuming, raking, and shoveling snow; organized sports such as basketball, tennis, softball, and soccer; and supervised strength training with a certified fitness trainer who has expertise working with kids.

Like adults, kids need activities that engage all parts of the body
to build and maintain overall strength and fitness and maintain a healthy weight.

If your child has a chronic health condition such as asthma or a disability, ask your pediatrician which fitness activities are safe for him or her. Many kids with health conditions and disabilities can be physically active with certain modifications in the activity.

Follow these tips to help keep your child active:

  • Ensure your child gets a good night’s sleep each evening
    so that he/she has energy to be active during the day
  • Be sure your child has comfortable sneakers, socks, and clothing
    for being active
  • Make activity part of your child’s routine each day, including chores,
    play time with other kids, and organized sports
  • Limit television, computer time, video games, and other nonactive pursuits
    to less than 2 consecutive hours at a time
  • Let your child choose exercise/activities that interest him/her
  • Be active with your child and exercise yourself to show you value it
  • Make physical activity a focus of family outings
  • Keep equipment handy such as balls, jump ropes, a basketball net, mini trampoline, and canoe/kayak handy to encourage activity
  • Enroll your child in after-school and community activities that involve fitness
  • Visit the neighborhood athletic field or playground with your child to play ball,
    run on the track, and shoot baskets
  • Encourage your child to drink water and drinks with little or no sugar for before, during, and after exercise

Exercise Plus Good Nutrition Can Equal Positive Outcomes

Adopting a healthy diet that is rich in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains and low in saturated fats, processed foods, and refined carbohydrates such as corn syrup and other sugars is as important as regular exercise in helping your child achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Ask your child’s doctor for a balanced dietary plan that will help him or her achieve goals for a healthy weight.

Summit Medical Group Nutrition Services also are available
to help you and your child understand the role of nutrition
in achieving a healthy weight at any age.

Good Exercise and Nutrition Habits in Childhood Can Mean Lifelong Health

It’s never too soon to start healthy eating and exercise habits. Children who enjoy being active and eating healthy foods are more likely to stay active throughout their lives than children who grew up with little physical activity and poor eating habits. Studies also show that kids who are fit have lower risk of serious illnesses such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and depression/anxiety compared with kids who are obese.3

As summer transitions into fall and a new academic year begins,
take time with your child to develop an enjoyable exercise plan
for the year ahead!


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Overweight and Obesity. Childhood Obesity Facts. Prevalence of childhood obesity in the United States. Accessed August 2018.
  2. Saelens BE, Glanz K, Frank LD, Couch SC, Zhou C, Colburn T, Sallis JF. Two-year changes in child weight status, diet, and activity by neighborhood nutrition and physical activity environment. Obesity. 2018;26(8):1338-1346.
  3. Jackson SL, Cunningham SA. The stability of children’s weight status over time and the role of television, physical activity, and diet. Prev Med. 2017;100:229-234.