Physical Activity

Keeping active is important for the growth and development of infants and children. Infants need tummy time and children need to play and learn basic motor skills (walking, jumping, hopping and skipping) when they are young. They will build on these skills to be able to do other activities such as riding bikes, roller skating and team sports. Parents can get kids off to an active start in life by being active themselves and getting their kids moving. The NYS WIC Program supports activities that are age appropriate.

Why is exercise or physical activity important for my child?
Just like for adults, higher physical activity has been associated with an increased life expectancy and lower risk of heart disease.  Physical activity produces overall physical, mental and social benefits.

Physical activity helps:

  • control weight
  • improve grades in school
  • reduce the risk of diabetes and some kinds of cancer
  • improve mental well-being, like increase self-confidence and higher self-esteem

How do I promote physical activity in my child?

  • Be active as a family and reduce sitting time (e.g., watching television, playing computer video games or talking on the phone).
  • Make physical activity fun!
    • offer learning experiences through games, fitness and sports
    • try activities you can do inside and outside
    • use physical activity as a reward
    • show that you are happy and proud of your child for being active!
    • use activities that are right for your child’s age
  • Be a good role model: Children want to follow their parents. If you are active, they will want to join in on the fun!

Looking for more information on Physical Activity for your child? Here are a few good brochures to help you get started!

Playing with Your Baby

Playing with Your Toddler

Playing with Your 3 to 5 Year Old

Keeping Their Spirits Up

Age Matters

Physical activity is important for everyone, but how much you need depends on your age.

Adults (18-64 years)

Adults should do at least 2 hours and 30 minutes each week of aerobic physical activity at a moderate level OR 1 hour and 15 minutes each week of aerobic physical activity at a vigorous level. Being active 5 or more hours each week can provide even more health benefits. Spreading aerobic activity out over at least 3 days a week is best. Also, each activity should be done for at least 10 minutes at a time. Adults should also do strengthening activities, like push-ups, sit-ups and lifting weights, at least 2 days a week.

Children and adolescents (6-17 years)

Children and adolescents should do 60 minutes or more of physical activity each day. Most of the 60 minutes should be either moderate- or vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity, and should include vigorous-intensity physical activity at least 3 days a week. As part of their 60 or more minutes of daily physical activity, children and adolescents should include muscle-strengthening activities, like climbing, at least 3 days a week and bone-strengthening activities, like jumping, at least 3 days a week. Children and adolescents are often active in short bursts of time rather than for sustained periods of time, and these short bursts can add up to meet physical activity needs. Physical activities for children and adolescents should be developmentally appropriate, fun, and offer variety.

Young children (2-5 years)

There is not a specific recommendation for the number of minutes young children should be active each day. Children ages 2-5 years should play actively several times each day. Their activity may happen in short bursts of time and not be all at once. Physical activities for young children should be developmentally appropriate, fun, and offer variety.
Physical activity is generally safe for everyone. The health benefits you gain from being active are far greater than the chances of getting hurt. Here are some things you can do to stay safe while you are active:
  • If you haven’t been active in a while, start slowly and build up.
  • Learn about the types and amounts of activity that are right for you.
  • Choose activities that are appropriate for your fitness level.
  • Build up the time you spend before switching to activities that take more effort.
  • Use the right safety gear and sports equipment.
  • Choose a safe place to do your activity.
  • See a health care provider if you have a health problem.