Play Is Exercise! Exercise Is Play!

by Monique Ryan, MS RD LDN

Play Is Exercise! Exercise Is Play!

Regular daily physical activity of 60 minutes promotes good health in kids by maintaining a healthy body weight and by building bones, muscles, joints and endurance. Kids can accumulate their 60 minutes of activity all at once, or in shorter chunks during the day. Encourage your kids to use their free time to be active. Be a role model for your kids by participating with them in activities both outdoors and indoors and encourage participation in group sports under the guidance of a coach or leader. Here are some ideas to get your kids (and you) off the couch!

Staying Active Outdoors

  • Walk to the library or school, or walk the dog.
  • Head for the nearest park, swing set, jungle gym or basketball court after school.
  • Jump rope with your kids or organize a neighborhood jump rope group.
  • Shoot hoops or play catch with your kids.
  • Make time for a family walk or bike ride each weekend.
  • Encourage kids to participate in active outdoor chores such as raking leaves, sweeping the walks or cleaning the garage.
  • Take a nature hike to collect leaves and rocks.
  • Play freeze tag or Frisbee in your backyard game.
  • Set up a backyard net for badminton or other net ball sports.

Staying Active Indoors

  • Play interactive computer games that require physical activity.
  • Organize your family room for kid's yoga or dancing to music after dinner.
  • Use dance DVDs or dance video games for some physically active TV time.

Get Them Involved

  • Enroll your kids in organized activities such as soccer, basketball, baseball, swimming or dance.
  • Inquire about sports at school, the local health club, or park district.
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About the author:

Monique C Ryan MS RD LDN

Monique Ryan, MS RD LDN

is owner of Personal Nutrition Designs, LLC, a nutrition consulting company based in the Chicago area. She works with clients in the areas of sports nutrition, weight management, eating disorders, and women's health, as well as disease prevention and wellness. She has consulted with athletes competing at all levels, including Olympic and professional athletes. She is the author of "Sports Nutrition for Endurance Athletes," "Performance Nutrition for Team Sports," and "Performance Nutrition for Winter Sports."




  • Cook healthy

    Involve your child in the cutting, mixing and preparation of all meals. Even a snack can be healthy.

  • Eat right

    Sit down together as a family to enjoy a wonderful meal and the opportunity to share the day's experiences with one another.

  • Shop smart

    To encourage a healthy lifestyle, get your children involved in selecting the food that will appear at the breakfast, lunch or dinner table.

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