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Exercise is good for kids, but here’s how to decide if the gym is the right place for them.

Physical activity is as important for kids as it is for adults. Many kids naturally move as they run and play, but with an emphasis today on more sedentary activities, such as playing video games and streaming media, it’s becoming harder than ever to get kids to move as much as they should.

It is recommended that kids get 60 minutes or more of physical activity every day. This should include aerobic, muscle-strengthening and bone-strengthening activities. Exercising as a family is one way parents can model healthy behaviors and encourage kids to be active, but is it okay to bring kids to the gym?

The question of whether or not a child belongs in a gym environment depends on several factors. For one, you need to see if your gym allows children under a certain age to be there. You’ll also want to inquire whether there are classes set up for children so they can do age-appropriate activities with other kids their age. If you want to work out with them at the gym (and they’re allowed to be there), it’s a good idea to think about the types of activities that are appropriate, depending on their age.

Young children, up to about age 5 or 6, get most of their physical activity simply through play. It’s okay to bring them to the gym with you if the facility allows it, but they should not engage in structured weight-lifting or muscle-building activities at this age. Instead, having them run, jump on mats or play with balls or hula hoops is ideal. You may also be able to take them swimming if the gym has a pool.

As kids get older, they may be ready to do more structured workouts, such as those using weights, machines or objects like medicine balls, but don’t rush it. If kids engage in these types of activities, it should be done under the supervision of a responsible adult who can show them the proper form and make sure they are doing things safely to avoid injury.

Although you may enjoy going to the gym, keep in mind that kids should not be forced into “formal” exercise because it can negatively affect their attitude towards physical activity for the rest of their lives. Activities should be fun and something they want to do. Getting kids involved in age-appropriate classes, such as gymnastics, karate or dance, is a great way to get them moving. Exercising together, whether at the gym, at home or outdoors, can be a good experience for kids, as long as the activities are age-appropriate, the atmosphere is positive and the emphasis is on fun and enjoyment.

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Date Last Reviewed: April 18, 2024

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Andrew Overman, DPT, MS, COMT, CSCS

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