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You may have heard that kids should have at least 60 minutes a day of physical activity, but do you know why?

Physical activity is known to benefit gross and fine motor skills, confidence and self-esteem, and a healthy weight.

Gross and Fine Motor Skills

Gross motor skills involves the large muscle groups like arms, legs, torso and feet. Fine motor skills involve the smaller muscles of the fingers, toes, wrists, lips and tongue. Physical activity develops these muscle groups. As your children get older these movements especially the fine motor skills are necessary for coordinating the muscles to be able to write, type and function in an academic setting. Gross motor skills are instrumental for athletic development.

Confidence and Self-Esteem

Your kids will beam when they learn to kick the ball, make it to the top of the jungle gym or hike to the peak. It gives them sense of accomplishment and confidence in who they are. The more physically active they are, the more they realize what they’re capable of. Physical activity works their body making them strong and fit and lessening body image issues as they get older.

Physical activity also increases oxygen to the brain, improving alertness and mental function which is vital for school performance. Strong school performance also contributes to their confidence and self-esteem.

Healthy Weight

When we think of physical activity we tend to think of reaching or maintaining a healthy weight and this is no less true for our kids. Obesity has become a real problem in the United States. In the last 30 years obesity has doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents. Children and young adults who are obese are more prone to have pre-diabetes and risk factors for cardiovascular disease. If obesity continues into adulthood, the likelihood for cancers also increases. The best way to treat these issues is to prevent them.

Sixty minutes of physical activity every day combined with a nutritious diet will help your kids reach and maintain a healthy weight, it will build their confidence and strengthen their motor skills contributing to their academic success. Moms and Dads, these benefits aren’t just for kids. Couldn’t we all benefit from an increased self-esteem and a healthy weight?

Jennifer Reiser, MD

Methodist Physicians Clinic 192 Dodge Pediatrics

Dr. Reiser answers your questions about child health and parenting. Dr. Reiser enjoys working with children because kids are so fun and innocent and she gets to play all day long. She uses play to make the doctor's office not be so scary and so the kids can still have fun when they are at the doctor. She loves being a pediatrician because working with children allows her to see some of her patients' firsts - like rolling over or taking their first steps. She has a special interest in treat ...

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