Exercise as Medicine: What’s Your Child’s Dose?

If you knew you could help prevent diseases by taking medicine, you likely would. Well, have you ever thought of exercise as medicine? Daily moderate to vigorous exercise, a spectrum of sweating to breathlessness, is good for a child’s mind, and body.

Exercise is known to prevent or modify chronic diseases such as:

  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Cancer

So, if you think of exercise as preventative medicine, how much should your child’s “dose” be? The typical prescription would be Rx: 60 minutes and Quantity: 7 days a week.

If you think 60 minutes, 7 days a week sounds like a lot, you should know that “dose” is the ultimate goal for all children ages 5 years through 18 years of age.  This recommendation is endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Center for Disease Control (CDC), and the World Health Organization (WHO).

If you find it difficult for your child to dedicate 60 continuous minutes a day, don’t worry – it can be broken up into 10 minute increments, or doses, 6 times a day.  Every family should tailor their exercise prescription to meet their child’s needs. Some helpful questions a family could use to design their child’s prescription:

  • Who will be my my child’s activity/exercise buddy?
  • What are the goals of my child’s daily exercise?
  • What activity or activities can my child do?
  • When can my child be active (include time of day for each day)?
  • Where can my child do these activities?
  • How can I vary my child’s activity so she stays interested in exercising?

There is no better time than the present to design an exercise prescription for your child and family.  The initiative Exercise is Medicine was co-launched in 2007 by the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Medical Association.  Please visit http://www.exerciseismedicine.org for more information or if you have a student athlete who is interested in improving their training, find out more about Nationwide Children’s Hospital Sports Performance by clicking, here.

Amy E. Valasek, MD, MSc
Amy Elizabeth Valasek, MD, MSc is a physician for Nationwide Children’s Sports Medicine and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. She is fellowship trained and board certified in sports medicine. Dr. Valasek attended medical school at The University of Maryland. She completed her residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital in the Department of Pediatrics and sports fellowship at University of Maryland Family Medicine Department in Baltimore, MD. She is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Sports Medicine, and American Medical Society for Sports Medicine. She is active in the community and serves as team physician at Bishop Ready High School in Columbus, Ohio.
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