Physical activity contributes to positive health outcomes including a decreased risk of coronary heart disease, hypertension, obesity, diabetes and improved quality of life. It is recommended that at a minimum, moderate activity for 30 minutes should be performed on most days of the week or preferably everyday. Exercise training can be divided into three component parts; aerobic, resistance and flexibility training.
Aerobic exercises are defined as any activity that uses large muscle groups, can be maintained continuously, and is rhythmic in nature. Aerobic exercises are comprised of activities that cause the heart and lungs to function at higher levels in order to provide adequate substrates to working muscles over an extended period of time. According to the American Heart Association and the American College of Sports Medicine, aerobic exercises should be performed at least five times per week. The options for aerobic exercise are endless and the selection of activities that are fun and entertaining to the child should remain front and center when prescribing them. This will promote sustainability and compliance.
Resistance training is composed of dynamic movements with progressive overload to increase and improve muscular strength. Recommendations for resistance training are 2-3 times per week incorporating all major muscle groups. For children and adolescents, the goal of resistance training should aim to improve overall body strength. Circuit training programs that emphasize aerobic conditioning and resistance training have been proven beneficial in children.
Flexibility training progressively increases the range of motion of a joint or set of joints over a period of time. Flexibility exercises can be completed in both dynamic and static positions. Benefits include increased range of motion, muscular relaxation, less chance of injury and less muscular soreness. Our department’s comprehensive nutrition-centered resistance and aerobic training program is appropriate for all healthy children as well as those who are overweight or obese as well as youth with a variety of chronic illnesses.