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August 28, 2023
By Katie Chatfield, MPH, RDN, LD, CCNP, Nutrition Manager

Prioritizing children’s health goes beyond nutrition. Exercise and physical activity are equally as important as the foods children eat, and the importance of physical activity is a focus of Providers Choice’s Healthy Habits Count Food Program Training this year.

5-2-1-0 is a framework for children’s health that encourages 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, the 2 bite club (a way to encourage hesitant eaters to try new foods), 1 hour of physical activity daily and 0 sugar-sweetened beverages.
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Physical activity and nutritious foods are important for lifelong health and development. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends children of all ages - even infants - get regular physical activity.

Infants need at least 30 minutes of “tummy time” and other interactive play, spread throughout each day.
Kids aged 3-5 need at least 3 hours of physical activity per day, or about 15 minutes every hour they are awake.
Kids 6 years and older need 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity on most days of the week.

Most kids do not move enough. In fact, only 25% of kids meet the AAP recommendations.

In addition to the lifelong rewards of physical activity there are also short-term rewards that will enhance children’s lives. Benefits of physical activity include better sleep, prevention of overweight or obesity, decreases in stress and anxiety, and better teamwork and sportsmanship. It also boosts self-esteem and improves flexibility.

Need ideas for adding physical activities to your daily routine? Get creative, but don’t overthink it. Both structured and unstructured play/exercise time is important. Small periods of physical activity sprinkled throughout the day add up! Other ideas and considerations include:

Emphasize fun and games
Provide active toys like jump ropes, balls and hula hoops
Find time to go on a hike or explore a playground
Be a good role model by staying active yourself
Plan ahead and provide a safe environment for physical activity

Visit the AAP website for additional physical activity resources. And if you need support in planning or learning more about physical activity, Providers Choice is your partner. From our resources to the training we provide, we’re here to help you foster physical activity for the children in your care!