Kids exercise all the time without even thinking about it. Just being active is exercise; for example, running around outside or playing kickball at school. What else counts as exercise? Playing sports, dancing, doing push-ups, and even reaching down to touch your toes is exercise.
When you exercise, you are helping to build a strong body that will be able to move around and do all the things you need it to do. Try to be active every day and your body will thank you later!
Exercise Makes Your Heart Happy
You may know that your heart is a muscle. It works hard, pumping blood every day of your life. You can help this important muscle get stronger by doing aerobic exercise.
Aerobic means "with air," so aerobic exercise is a kind of activity that requires oxygen. When you breathe, you take in oxygen, and, if you are doing aerobic exercise, you may notice you are breathing faster than normal. Aerobic activity can get your heart pumping, make you sweaty , and quicken your breathing.
When your give your heart this kind of workout on a regular basis, your heart will get even better at its main job - delivering oxygen (in the form of oxygen-carrying blood cells) to all parts of your body.
So you want to do some aerobic exercise right now? Try swimming, basketball, ice or roller hockey, jogging (or walking quickly), in-line skating, soccer, cross-country skiing, biking, or rowing. And don't forget that skipping, jumping rope, and playing hopscotch are aerobic activities, too!
Exercise Strengthens Muscles
Another kind of exercise can help make your muscles become stronger. Did you ever do a push-up or swing across the monkey bars at the playground? Those are exercises that can build strength. By using your muscles to do powerful things, you can make them stronger. For older teens and adults, this kind of workout can make muscles bigger, too.
Here are some exercises and activities for building strong muscles:
- in-line skating
- bike riding
Exercise Makes You Flexible
Can you touch your toes easily without yelling ouch? Most kids are pretty flexible, which means that they can bend and stretch their bodies without much trouble. This kind of exercise often feels good, like when you take a big stretch in the morning after waking up. Being flexible is having "full range of motion," which means you can move your arms and legs freely without feeling tightness or pain . It's easy to find things to do for good flexibility:
- tumbling and gymnastics
- dancing, especially ballet
- martial arts
- simple stretches, such as touching your toes or side stretches
Exercise Keeps the Balance
Food gives your body fuel in the form of calories, which are a kind of energy. Your body needs a certain amount of calories every day just to function, breathe, walk around, and do all the basic things that the body does. But if you are active, your body needs an extra amount of calories or energy. If you are not very active, your body will not need as many calories. Whatever your calorie need is, if you eat enough to meet that need, your body weight will stay about the same. If you eat more calories than your body needs, these calories may be stored as excess fat.
Exercise Makes You Feel Good
It feels good to have a strong, flexible body that can do all the activities you enjoy - like running, jumping, and playing with your friends. It is also fun to be good at something, like scoring a basket, hitting a home run, or perfecting a dive. But you may not know that exercising can actually put you in a better mood.
When you exercise, your brain releases chemicals called endorphins , which is a natural way to make you feel happier. It is just another reason why exercise is a fun activity.
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