Meghan D Condron Physical Therapy, P.C.
Working with families to help children reach their full potential

The FIVE W's of Exercise 




All children should be active during most of their waking hours, unless instructed otherwise by their physician*. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), it is recommended that children aged 2 and older get a minimum of 60 - 90 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise every day.


WHY do children need exercise?




Muscle mass and strength

Body fat

Strong bones

Blood pressure

Healthy heart and lungs


Regular sleep cycle




Confidence and positive body image

Risk of diabetes

Ability to focus and attention span

Risk of obesity

 WHAT kind of exercises do children need?


Flexibility: keeping muscles at their optimal length to perform. Muscles that are too long or too tight are weaker and prone to injury.   Flexibility exercises include; stretching, twisting and reaching in all directions.  


Strength: muscles performing against resistance such as an object or gravity. Strength exercises include; pushing (open a heavy door), pulling (a bag of laundry), climbing (stairs), squatting (pick up toys) and jumping (in place or over obstacles).


Endurance: being able to perform activities for a certain amount of time without having to stop or shortness of breath. This is related to the strength of the muscles and the cardiovascular (heart and lungs) system. Examples include walking, running, stair climbing, bicycling and swimming.


Balance: ability to maintain upright during static (standing, sitting) and dynamic (walking, running) activities. Examples of balance exercises include, standing on one foot, standing with feet close together, standing on uneven surfaces like a cushion on the floor and walking/running on grass.


WHEN should children exercise?


Children can exercise anytime as long as they are closely supervised. Children are sensitive to extreme temperatures and should not exercise outdoors when it is very hot or very cold. In warm weather, children should wear loose clothing and drink water frequently. In colder weather they need warm layers, a hat and gloves. Normal response to exercise include sweating, breathing more deeply/faster and flushed cheeks. Abnormal responses to exercise include difficulty breathing, pain, dizziness or fainting. If an abnormal response occurs, exercise should stop and children need to be seen by a physician.


WHERE should children exercise?


At School: Children use the playground equipment (strength) or just run around (endurance). In addition, classroom activities for younger children are planned to allow learning in combination with exercise (stretching, walking, running and dancing). Some preschools will have special gross motor times built into the schedule (i.e. yoga, obstacle courses or a “gym” time.


At home and in the community:

  • exercise classes for children (e.g. yoga)
  • sports teams or lessons
  • play dates
  • playground
  • walking around the neighborhood
  • taking the stairs instead of the elevator
  • helping with chores/cleaning
  • hide and seek
  • simon says
  • walk like an animal (bear – on hands and feet, dog – hands and knees, crab – backwards on hands and feet, rabbit – hop on two feet etc.)


The possibilities are endless so use your imagine, encourage your child to “invent exercises” and set a good example by exercising with your child.


 *If your child has specific health issues, make sure to speak with your pediatrician so you know exactly what exercise is allowed (type, amount of time, signs of over exertion or need to stop).




Meghan D Tegtmeier, MPT,PCS