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Keep Them Moving: A Strong Link between Children’s Mental and Physical Health

A holistic approach is crucial for healthy, happy children. Regular exercise and activity can not only improve a child’s physical health, it can support their mental and emotional health as well. Getting your child moving regularly creates a foundation for a healthy lifestyle for years to come.

Multiple studies show a clear link between a child’s mental and physical health. Regular exercise can result in reduced anxiety and stress, improvements in mood, and increased mental alertness. While other factors contribute to mental health in children, exercise is a key component to their overall well-being.

Creating an Active Environment

According to the MD Anderson Center, parents can encourage regular physical activity for children by doing the following: 

  1. Be a role model
  2. Use exercise as transportation
  3. Involve the whole family
  4. Focus on fun
  5. Make activity social
  6. Use competition as a motivator
  7. Include kids in household activities
  8. Give gifts that promote physical activity
  9. Limit TV and computer time
  10. Plan vacations with new ways to exercise

The CDC recommends that children get at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day, try new activities, and get outside whenever possible. They provide a list of activities for inspiration:

Ideas for Indoor Activities
  • Play games that encourage movement. Are your kids stuck in the house on a rainy day? Check out this game library for ideas to help your kids be physically active when they can’t go outside.
  • Watch this video for tips to help your kids get moving and stay active indoors.
  • Learn a fun dance move or try a new sport. Trying something new can be fun and rewarding.
  • Challenge yourself the presidential way. Think your kids can take on the Presidential Youth Fitness Program and win? See if they can complete the goals on this page
Ideas for Outdoor Activities
  • Plan exercise around your day. Are your kids going to a camp or activity? Use these ideas to plan and add physical activity before, during, and after those events.
  • Discover a fun new activity. Try a new activity or learn a new sport with friends. It can be rewarding and fun!
  • Explore nature. Use this Family Nature Club Toolkit
  •  to help you plan and share outdoor experiences with friends and families who are also yearning for “more green, less screen.”

Setting goals for physical activity can be a rewarding experience for the entire family. Keeping our children, and ourselves, moving is a opportunity to have some fun and improve our whole selves!


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