Get your kid working out from 3 years old: New US guidelines LOWER the age to start exercising – as report shows just 1 in 5 teens meet fitness standards
- New physical guidelines were presented on Monday at the American Heart Association conference
- Old guidelines suggested getting children physically active at age six
- The updated ones have changed the start age for physical activity to three
- However, doctors say motor development in children isn’t completely defined until about age five
Get your kids exercising from as young as age three, new federal guidelines recommend.
The updated suggestions, from the US Department of Health and Human Services, have moved the start age for physical activity from age six to between ages three and five.
This is the first update to the government’s physical activity guidelines since they were created in 2008.
Low adherence to the first set of guidelines and rising rates of childhood obesity have prompted the push to aim younger to prevent poor health later in life.
Updated guidelines from the US Department of Health and Human Services have changed the start age for physical activity from age six to age three (file image)
The new advice was presented on Monday at the American Heart Association conference in Chicago.
Under the old guidelines, parents were recommended to begin getting their children physically active starting at age six.
But the new guidelines lower the ages to between three and five years old, saying ‘preschool-aged children should be physically active throughout the day to enhance growth and development’.
No set amount of time was given but the guidelines suggest children be lightly, moderately, or vigorously active for at least three hours per day.
It is likely that scientists adjusted the guidelines due to the growing rate of childhood obesity, which has tripled since the 1970s.
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity affects one in five children in the US and 14 percent of those between ages two and four years old.
Childhood obesity is now the number one health concern among parents in the US, topping drug abuse and smoking.
Being obese at such as young age can increase the risk of several health problems including heart disease, kidney disease, hypertension, diabetes and stroke, as well as elevating the risk for obesity in adulthood.
However motor development in children isn’t completely defined until about age five.
According to Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, children at age three are just learning how to balance on one foot for a few seconds and can long jump around one foot.
By four years old is when they learn how to skip and can hop one foot. It is at age five that they can skip on alternating feet and are mastering their skills so they can jump rope, skate, swim and even do somersaults.
Targeting young children is the goal of a project that Dr Valentin Fuster, a cardiologist at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital, has worked on for years with the Heart Association and Sesame Workshop, producers of PBS’s Sesame Street.
At the heart conference, he gave results of an intensive four-month program to improve knowledge and attitudes about exercise and health in Head Start preschools in Harlem.
Of the more than 560 children between ages three to five in the study, half received no intervention while the other half underwent 50 hours of lessons on topics such as what healthy food are and how to take care of the heart.
Results showed that children who received health education had higher scores on tests about health knowledge than the preschoolers who did not have lessons.
Dr Fuster told The Wall Street Journal that children between ages three and five are in a ‘golden age’ where they are not only interested in how their body works but can easily absorb information.
‘This is the age where you store things in your brain very easily and they come back later when you are an adult,’ he told the newspaper.
He added that the benefits were not just evident in the children, but also in adults.
‘We found that the impact that children have on their parents in terms of health is much more impressive than the impact parents have on the children,’ he told The Journal.
Health | Mail Online