We know that physical activity is beneficial for health, stress reduction, social relationships, and cognition. Yet, our children have never moved less. Obesity-related illnesses are on the rise as are anxiety, depression, and stress-related conditions in children and adolescents. As a pediatric psychologist and cognitive interventionist with a master’s degree in physical education, I am dedicated to improving cognition, health, and social-relationships among our youth.
The Centers for Disease Control and Shape America recommend frequent movement and active play throughout the day for 3-5-year-olds and 60 minutes of moderately vigorous physical activity daily for students ages 6-17 with heavy work three days per week.
Recommended Levels for Preschool-Aged Children (ages 3 through 5 years)
Preschool-aged children (ages 3 through 5 years) should be physically active throughout the day for growth and development.
Adult caregivers should encourage preschool-aged children to be active when they play.
Recommended Levels for School-Aged Children and Adolescents (ages 6 through 17 years)
Children and adolescents ages 6 through 17 years should do 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity each day, including daily aerobic – and activities that strengthen bones (like running or jumping) – 3 days each week, and that build muscles (like climbing or doing push-ups) – 3 days each week.
Executive Function + Self-Regulation Programs
This is an era of hybrid, distance, and in-home learning in which we are best to be moving more. For all students, we recommend at least one hour of vigorous physical activity or active play per day. Honestly, that is often not enough. We regulate throughout the day. Active play, rhythmic movement, art, music, and meditation are some of the best ways to self-regulate.
For children with sensory overload, ADHD, dyslexia, anxiety and neurodiversity I recommend our students do coordinative-beat-based rhythmic activities for 3-5 minutes at a time every 20 minutes or 45 minutes (depending on the student) to alert the brain, practice executive functions, reduce stress, and provide opportunities for self-regulation. We use our bodies and the environment (floor, wall, chair, desk) to engage sequencing, patterning, proprioception, rhythm, and heavy work as needed. Making time for physical activities, art, music dance and movement are central to students’ growth and development. These movement opportunities also aid in reducing anxiety and depression while enhancing self-esteem, mastery, relationships, and social cohesion.
Here are some resources I curated for our students and educators. CLICK on the links to go to the resource page for each program, organization, or service.
Together, we can improve the trajectory of students’ learning with art, music, physical activity, and movement.