How Much Exercise Should Kids Get?

Enough of a Good Thing: How Much Exercise Should Kids Get?

Can you get too much of a good thing? When it comes to kids and exercise, it's possible to overdo it. That's because growing bodies can be injured more easily than adults.

As a parent, it's important to know when to put limits on how much and what kinds of exercise your children do. Here are some things to consider if your youngster enjoys exercising.

Distance Running

It may seem like your kids never get tired, but little bodies can't endure the same distances as teens and adults. Instead of establishing distance goals for younger kids, let them run until they stop on their own. Do not push them to go on if they feel they can't. Ensure they drink enough water while running, and make them stop if they feel pain or get dizzy.

Junior high aged kids can run up to around 10 miles safely, especially if they run regularly as part of a track or cross country team. Marathons are still a no-no for tweens and teens. Kids risk damaging cartilage, tendons or bone plates if they attempt a marathon before their bodies are finished growing, usually around the age of 21.

Weight training

Kids and preteens' bodies aren't equipped to pick up heavy free weights or dumbbells. Their bodies just can't handle the stress. To build muscles, let kids do strength training exercise using their own body weight.

For example, push-ups, sit-ups and gentle calisthenics are OK for kids of any age. Make sure they warm up for a few minutes with some gentle stretches. Resistance bands are also a great way to build strength without stressing a young body.

Once kids reach high school, weight lifting is a safer endeavor. Just make sure he or she is supervised while working out. Keep the weights light and complete no more than 15 reps per set.


Growing bodies need rest. Only practice strength training few days a week and ensure your kids get plenty of rest between exercise sessions.

Making sure your kids exercise is important, but doing too much can be harmful as well. Monitor your kids' activities carefully and make sure they're getting enough rest so their bodies can grow.

Pat Mulford •