Family And Parenting

Physical Activity Recommendations for Middle Schoolers

Physical activity is so important, especially in the middle school years when kids spend more of their time in front of a screen and no longer see playing outside as a priority.

Physical activity is so important, especially in the middle school years when kids spend more of their time in front of a screen and no longer see playing outside as a priority. 

While you likely understand that physical activity is vital for your child’s health and growth, it can be challenging to make sure your child is getting enough activity. Often, it can be even more challenging to motivate your child to get moving.

Read on for some physical activity recommendations for middle schoolers.

How Much Physical Activity Do Middle Schoolers Need?

The CDC recommends that middle schoolers get at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity each day. There are many benefits to daily physical activity, including health benefits like stronger bones and muscles, lower BMI, and better immune systems. Active kids also do better in school.

There are three types of physical activity middle schoolers should be doing:

  • Aerobic: the majority of physical activity should be spent doing cardio
  • Bone: bone-strengthening exercises should be done three days per week
  • Muscular: muscle-strengthening exercises should be done three days per week

While some kids will meet at least some of their physical activity needs during a PE class or while playing an extracurricular sport, many kids aren’t getting any activity and very few kids get the recommended daily amount. It’s on parents and their kids to make sure they’re being active.

Motivating Your Child to Get Active

Some kids are naturally more active than others. If your child has a more sedentary personality, it can be challenging to motivate them when it comes to physical fitness. However, there are ways to get your kid moving. Think about your child’s personality and what motivates them.

For many kids, they think that their 60 minutes has to be spent doing exercises, which they may find boring. Help your child understand that any type of physical activity is good and that it doesn’t have to be boring. Encourage your child to find something they love. 

If your kid isn’t into traditional sports, you may have to get creative. Sign them up for martial arts or parkour. Fun activities like skateboarding, bike riding, and swimming are also great.

Some kids need a little more of a push. While it would be great if all kids were just naturally active, some kids are very resistant and struggle to find something they enjoy. 

You may have to use other motivation, such as rewarding your kid for getting in their physical activity for the day or requiring a certain amount of activity before they can have screen time.  

Physical Activity Ideas

Below are some ways your middle schooler can be physically active. We’ve included structured and unstructured activities to fit your schedule:

  • Team sports
  • Individual sports like tennis
  • Dancing (practicing TikToks count!)
  • Cycling
  • Roller skating/rollerblading
  • Parkour
  • Hiking 
  • Scootering
  • Work out with YouTube videos
  • Martial arts
  • Yoga
  • Rock climbing
  • Skiing/snowboarding
  • Running through a sprinkler/slip and slide
  • Walking the dog
  • Laser tag
  • Paintball/airsoft guns
  • Fitness tracker challenges
  • Geocaching
  • Physical activity video games, like Ring Fit or Just Dance
  • Jump rope

One of the most important things you can do is get your kid involved. Let them pick the activity and they’ll be much more likely to do it.

Encouraging Healthy Habits Without Body Shaming

As parents, we want the best for our kids, and part of that is for them to be healthy and physically fit. Unfortunately, when we convey those messages to our kids, it often comes off sounding like we don’t like the way their bodies look. Parents often unwittingly give their kids body image issues.

When talking to your kids about being active, keep the focus on the positive aspects of physical activity that aren’t image-related. For example, discuss the health benefits, such as a healthy heart and body. You can also talk about how physical activity can be fun and a way to relieve stress.

Final Thoughts

Kids need to be physically active for at least one hour every day. With after-school activities and screens dominating much of their time, it can be difficult to find time for your middle schooler to be physically active. 

However, if you prioritize this time and help your child find an activity they love, the health benefits will be worth it.


Physical Activity Recommendations for Elementary-Age Kids

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