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The Importance of Being Active: A Kid's Guide to Fitness

Physical fitness is important for everyone, including kids. Just because you're young doesn't mean that your body doesn't need regular exercise to build strong muscles and keep your heart healthy. Doctors recommend that kids get daily exercise, too, just like adults should. But don't worry. Physical fitness doesn't have to be exhausting, boring, or hard. In fact, you can probably get all of the exercise you need by just going outside to play. You can also get exercise if you play team sports such as basketball, soccer, baseball, or softball. Your body will thank you by being strong and healthy, and your brain will thank you for getting regular exercise, too, because you might find it easier to remember things you learn in school.

Be Active to Be Stronger

Physical activity is any type of activity that uses your body and muscles. When you walk, run, jump, climb, hop, skip, swim, and dance, you are doing physical activity that exercises muscles and gets your blood pumping faster through your body. Your heart is the muscle in charge of pumping blood, so getting regular physical activity helps your heart get stronger, too. As you use your muscles, they'll all get stronger. Your bones get stronger when you do some types of exercise, too, such as walking, hiking, running, dancing, jumping rope, playing basketball, playing soccer, or doing other activities that involve jumping, running, or stepping down onto the ground. Similar to muscles, bones are living tissues that get denser and stronger when you exercise. It's important to develop strong bones when you're young because people's bones often get thinner and weaker as they get older.

Physical Activity Keeps Weight Healthy

A calorie is a unit describing how much energy your body gets from foods you eat. For example, a medium-size apple has around 100 calories. The body needs calories to have energy, but taking in too many calories can cause you to gain too much weight, which can lead to health problems. Being active uses up calories: The more physical activity you do, the more calories your body will use to give you energy. Doctors recommend that all people get at least 150 minutes of exercise every week, which means that you should try to exercise around 20 minutes seven days a week or 25 minutes six days a week. It's best if you do something active every day. It's easier to maintain a healthy weight when you are physically active on a regular basis. Keeping your weight down means that your body will be healthier, and you'll also find it easier to do daily activities such as climbing stairs, picking up your toys, and doing chores around the house.

Fitness Has Other Benefits, Too

It's easy to notice physical benefits when you get regular exercise because your muscles get stronger and you won't gain too much weight. But there are other benefits of exercise that you can feel even if you might not be able to see them easily. When you exercise, your body releases special chemicals that help you feel happier and more relaxed. These chemicals are called endorphins, and they produce positive feelings in your body. Exercise can help you feel less anxious, stressed, and sad, too. Proteins and chemicals released by your body during exercise also help your brain work better. You'll find it easier to learn and remember things in school, and your judgment might be better, too. Regular exercise also tends to help people sleep better. You'll fall asleep faster at bedtime and sleep more soundly when you get plenty of exercise during the day.

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