Intermountain Healthcare

Exercise Has Physical and Psychological Benefits for Kids


Salt Lake City, UT -- (ReleaseWire) -- 03/05/2021 --Since the pandemic, families have spent more time indoors and on screens. With online school, there's no walking to and from school, recess or P.E.. Even if kids are in school, many extra curricular activities are limited. So, the amount of daily physical activity is reduced.

"Even before the pandemic, the dramatic rise in pediatric overweight and obesity in recent years has increased attention to the importance of physical activity," said Katrina Jensen, RN, Intermountain Healthcare.

"Kids have also reported experiencing more anxiety over the past year during the COVID-19 pandemic," adds Jensen. "Some reasons are less time with friends, less or no time in- person at school, more time on screens, and less time outside."

Jensens said exercise helps kids' physical and mental health.

"The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reports regular physical activity increases lean body mass, muscle, and bone strength and promotes physical health. It fosters psychological well-being, can increase self-esteem and capacity for learning, and can help children and adolescents handle stress."

The AAP also recommends children ages 6-17 engage in 60 minutes or more of physical activity per day.

"Physical activity is like your fifth vital sign," Jensen said. "Health providers routinely check your four vital signs such as your temperature, blood pressure, heart rate and breathing rate."

"Physical activity can be thought of as the fifth vital sign for your provider to assess your health."

Experts also agree parents shouldn't forget well-child check-ups. Since the pandemic, some parents have postponed going to the doctor. "It's important to schedule your well child visit and keep up you're your child's immunizations, as we look toward hopefully more in-person learning in the fall," said Jensen.

Jensen also tells parents to encourage their kids to engage in aerobic exercise that gets their heart rate up, as well as muscle-strengthening and weight bearing activities. Some examples might be:

- Walk, run, bike, hike, hop, skip, jump, climb, play games with a ball, dance to music, do sit ups or push-ups, ski, or rollerblade. Just get out, and get moving!

- Remember to maintain appropriate social distance when exercising with those outside your household.

- Remember to keep children well hydrated before, during and after exercise.

Jensen said that maintaining a healthy body and mind are important, even when so many other aspects of our lives are onhold or are changing. For more ideas to improve body and mind, see

About Intermountain Healthcare
Intermountain Healthcare is a not-for-profit system of 24 hospitals, 215 clinics, a Medical Group with 2,500 employed physicians and advanced practice clinicians, a health insurance company called SelectHealth, and other health services in Idaho, Utah, and Nevada. Intermountain is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes and sustainable costs.