Children's Health Parenting

Exercise ideas for the non-athletic child

Exercise for the non-sports adolescent

Adolescents’ interests vary, and not all adolescents are sports-oriented. Almost every child shares the increased health risks that can stem from a lack of exercise and the benefits of routinely exercising.  According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, research shows that the average 8- to 10-year-old spends nearly eight hours a day with different media, and older children and teens spend more than 11 hours per day. Excessive media use has been associated with obesity.

Research suggests that childhood obesity contributes to type-2 diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia and metabolic syndrome. All of these conditions can be precursors to cardiovascular disease. Even if your child is not overweight, exercise offers the following benefits:

  • The heart is a muscular organ, and regular exercise strengthens it, which allows it to have to work less in order to pump blood.
  • Exercise stimulates the production of new blood vessels.
  • Exercise delivers oxygen and nutrients to tissues and helps the cardiovascular system work more effectively. 

The American Heart Association recommends that most children get a minimum of 60 minutes a day of exercise. Parents should keep in mind this does not mean their child has to exercise for an hour a day; it can be broken up into smaller segments throughout the day. It also does not have to be the same activity every day.

Alternative to Sports

Children do not have to participate in team sports or jog for miles in order to benefit from exercising.  Parents should focus on their child’s interests. Exercising should be an enjoyable experience and not feel like punishment. Skateboarding is a great way to get exercise, and many cities have skateboard parks. Bike riding, hiking and swimming are ideal family-oriented activities. Some other alternatives to sports include:

  • Rowing a boat
  • Jumping on a trampoline
  • Working out in a gym
  • Rock climbing
  • Roller skating
  • Stretching
  • Yoga
  • Jumping rope
  • Ice skating
  • Dancing
  • Walking a dog
  • Karate
  • A brisk walk around the mall

Parents benefit from exercise too. Setting the example by exercising regularly and scheduling family exercise activities are great ways to encourage adolescent children to take a break from technology and get active.

Heart care in children requires a team of heart specialists dedicated just to kids. Children’s Hospital of Georgia’s board-certified cardiologists and surgeons are specifically trained to handle the unique needs of children’s hearts. Every year, we care for hundreds of children from across the region with acquired or congenital heart defects. CHOG offers pediatric cardiology services and the region’s only dedicated Pediatric Hybrid Cardiac Catheterization Suite. Visit or call 706-721-KIDS (5437) for more information.


Sources: American Academy of Pediatrics, The American Heart Association


About the author

Children's Hospital of Georgia

Children's Hospital of Georgia

Children’s Hospital of Georgia is the only facility in the area dedicated exclusively to children. It staffs the largest team of pediatric specialists in the region who deliver out- and in- patient care for everything from common childhood illnesses to life-threatening conditions like heart disorders, cancer and neurological diseases.