Children, like anyone else, need to be active on a regular basis.

Children arguably have more energy than any other age bracket. They're continually growing, which requires fuel. This fuel will also give them the energy to burn.

This means that most days children will need to be active. As well as helping them burn off excess energy, doing physical activity also helps them create good habits from an early age.

Let’s take a look at one way you can make sure your child stays active.

What is the 10,000 Steps Challenge?

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So, what is this challenge exactly, and why is it called the 10,000 steps challenge?

Surprisingly, there’s nothing completely magical about this number – it’s more about what it is supposed to represent. Namely getting up out of your seat, out of the house and being active.

The pedometer is a device that counts how many steps you do, and the number associated with this challenge came from Japan. In the 1960’s there was a pedometer that was advertised as being able to count 10,000 steps, and the figure stuck.

Nowadays, people look at the health benefits of this number more than anything. If you are walking this many steps a day, you may experience a lowering of blood pressure and improved tolerance of glucose.

However, there may just be more to this number than we previously thought. This is because other studies have shown that if you are walking just 5,000 steps per day, you are more at risk of experiencing heart disease, diabetes, or a stroke.

At the end of the day, the primary purpose of a challenge like this is to get you moving – and children aren't exempt from this. Instilling productive activities like this will set them up for a bright future.

How Many Steps a Day Should Children Do?

Speaking of children, how many steps should the average child be taking per day?

A study concluded that children between the ages of eight and ten should be taking between 12,000 to 16,000 steps per day. However, this requirement is lower for girls than it is for boys.

When it comes to how many steps the average child takes per day, the results are optimistically similar. Boys average between 12,000 and 16,000 steps per day, while girls will do an average of 10,000 to 13,000.

Children under the age of 12 are, surprisingly, more active than their adolescent counterparts. While it is vital to take geography and lifestyle into account, children younger than 12 were more active on average.

Once they got older than 12, the steps that they took per day began to decrease. The average steps taken per day of an 18-year-old is just 8,000 to 9,000.

Physical education classes taken in school contributed to the majority of this activity, while after-school activities also played a substantial, yet smaller role.

While these results positive and show that the average child is active, it can’t hurt to encourage them to be more active.

Why Should Your Children be Active?

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So, why is it important to make sure our children are active?

First, let's talk about preschoolers. This group of children needs to stay active each day for many important reasons. One of these is that they need to exercise and play in order to develop vital motor skills.

Implementing activities like running, walking, and riding a bike all help them to work on their fundamental skills because each of these is a simple, repeated movement. Activities like these will also help to prepare your child for more organized team sports when they’re a bit older.

When it comes to school-age children, they have the ability and attention span to handle more complex activities. This is an excellent time to introduce them to working together either in pairs or teams.

While your child will have different paces of development and preferences for physical activity, the most crucial part is encouraging them to do something, period. Whether its soccer, track, running or basketball, they'll benefit from the daily physical activity.

While teenagers may not need to get as much exercise each day as children, it’s still vital that they continue to feed this habit. Having a positive attitude and paying attention to their fitness preferences will help them to enjoy the activity.

How to Introduce a Pedometer

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We’ve discussed how many steps a child should do in a day and talked about why it’s so important for children to exercise. Now, let’s explain the first part of the 10,000 steps challenge, and how you can introduce it to your own kids.

When introducing the pedometer to your child, explain to them that it’s a small device that counts their steps. It will run out of battery and is breakable, so they need to handle it with care.

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It is worn on their clothing, attached to their shorts or skirt at waist level. It’s recommended that you remind them that a pedometer is fragile, and if they shake it they may end up breaking it.

We recommend putting your child's initials on their pedometer so that if they lose it at school, they have a better chance of retrieving it again.

Because a pedometer needs to be correctly placed to work, it's essential that your child knows this. Ask your child to place a finger on their kneecap and draw a line up to their waist. This is where the pedometer should be set.

Ask your child to make sure the pedometer is straight and not tilted. Otherwise, it may not work.

How to Introduce The Steps Challenge

When your child wears the pedometer and tracks their steps, they will use a step log. This can be a piece of paper that keeps track of how many steps they are taking in a week.

Ask your child to write the days of the week at the top of their log. Tell them that they need to reset their pedometer each morning when they place it on their clothing. It needs to be set back all the way to zero.

Your child needs to wear their pedometer all day to account for all the steps they will take. Help your child to fill out their step log at the end of the day, recording the total number of steps they took.

At the end of the week, assist your child in counting up the total number of steps that they took for the week. Remember that one mile equals approximately 2,000 steps. If your child has fallen short at the end of the week, discuss with them what they can do in the coming week to increase their step count.

Easy Ways to Help Your Child Walk 10,000 Steps

Now that we’ve covered the 10,000 steps challenge and how to introduce it to your children, let’s take a look at some child-friendly activities they can do to help keep the number of steps up:

  • Scavenger Hunt: one of the easiest ways to clock up your steps is by walking. However, there aren’t many children that find walking for long distances entertaining. Next time you encourage your child to go on a walk, try turning it into a scavenger hunt. Make a list of items they need to find and see how many they can cross off.
  • Get Dancing: most children love to dance – and they also like to create messes. This means that there's a good chance your house is messy at some point during the day. Try turning some music on and getting your children to clean up to the beat. They'll get their steps in, and you'll have a tidy house.
  • Take a Frisbee: if your walk is going to take you to the park, why not bring a frisbee with you? Throwing a frisbee around an open space is a great way to get your child walking – and even running.
  • Walking School Bus: if you live within walking distance of your child’s school, try organizing a walking school bus with some of the other parents. It won’t even feel like work for your child, because they’ll be too busy talking with their friends.

Keeping Your Child Active with the 10,000 Steps Challenge

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Keeping the whole family active is an integral part of a healthy lifestyle.

Children need exercise just like the rest of us. In fact, they need more activity than we do, because they’re spending a lot of their time growing.

Try introducing the 10,000 steps challenge to your children. You’ll come to find that getting your children to exercise can be fun and enjoyable.

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