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Exercise is an important part of keeping children healthy. Encouraging healthy lifestyles in children and adolescents is important for when they grow older. Lifestyles that are learned in childhood are more likely to stay with the child into adulthood. Changes in lifestyle are harder to make the older the person becomes. The best way to promote healthy lifestyles is for the whole family to become involved.
A daily exercise program can provide a way to share an activity with family and friends, while helping establish good heart-healthy habits. The following exercise guidelines for adolescents can help you and your child plan activities:
Even low-to-moderate intensity activities for as little as 30 minutes a day can be beneficial. These activities may include the following:
However, more vigorous aerobic activities, done three or four times a week for 30 to 60 minutes, are best for improving the fitness of the heart and lungs. Regular, aerobic physical activity increases a child's capacity for exercise and plays a role in prevention of heart diseases. Aerobic activities are continuous activities that cause the heart rate to increase and cause the breathing rate to increase. Aerobic exercise may also help to lower blood pressure.
These activities may include the following:
Exercise on a regular basis is part of a healthy lifestyle. However, some children can exercise too much. If your child begins losing weight and falls below his/her normal growth patterns, or if exercise interferes with other normal activities and school, consult your child's physician.
For children and adolescents, daily exercise may help prevent conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, poor cholesterol levels, and poor lifestyle habits that may lead to heart conditions later in life.
The following are just some of the benefits that regular exercise or physical activity provides:
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