National Kids Fitness Day – May 4, 2023

National Kids Fitness Day is celebrated every year on May 4 in the U.S. It’s not only a day for children to focus on physical activity but a day for them to feel empowered to make changes in their lifestyle in order to grow into healthy adults. It’s also a time to share fitness journeys with the world and possibly inspire others with their stories. With the help of family and friends, National Kids Fitness Day can show children how physical fitness has the power to change lives.

History of National Kids Fitness Day

The Greek philosopher Plato was the first P.E., or physical education teacher, in 386 B.C. His school, called ‘Akademia’ or ‘The Academy’ taught physical education as he understood the importance of teaching children as young as seven years old about physical fitness. He believed that one could attain perfection by spending time on both education and physical activity. It also helped the students prepare to become athletes or warriors. Boxing, chariot racing, and wrestling were some of the common sports practiced. These classes helped advance Greek society and eventually spread to the rest of the world.

Physical Education reached the U.S. shores in the mid-19th century and was used to train soldiers for battle. The majority of military recruits in World War I were unfit for combat. Laws were enacted to include and improve P.E. programs in public schools to prepare future generations to engage in wars and sporting competitions. By World War II, the emphasis shifted from games and sports to physical conditioning. Both men and women used physical education to keep fit for not just the war, but also for manual labor. In 1953, American children were found to be less fit than their European counterparts by the Kraus-Weber study. As a result, P.E. experienced tremendous growth at the elementary level.

Today, aside from skill development, many physical education programs emphasize overall fitness or wellness. There are many health risks associated with a sedentary lifestyle. It’s clear that physical education plays a vital role in a child’s physical, psychological, and cognitive development.

National Kids Fitness Day timeline

1866
The Inclusion of Exercise in Schools

A law requiring two physical exercise periods in a day for public schools is passed in California.

1890s
The Educational Reforms for Schools

John Dewey challenges the traditional education model by including physical education in his educational reforms.

1983
The National Fitness and Sports Month

May is designated as National Fitness and Sports Month, now known as National Physical Fitness and Sports Month.

October 2, 2004
The Push for Children to Play Outside

The cable channel Nickelodeon organizes an annual event designed to encourage kids and their families to play together outdoors.

National Kids Fitness Day FAQs

How much physical activity do kids need daily?

Children and adolescents who are over six years old need at least an hour a day of moderate or vigorous aerobic activity. Vigorous activities, such as biking or running, should be done at least three days a week.

What workouts should 11-year-olds do?

Climbing trees and playing in a playground can promote muscle strength. Calisthenics such as sit-ups, pull-ups, and push-ups do the same.

What happens if a kid exercises too much?

Exercising too much can lead to injuries as well as the inability to continue performing activities they want to do.

National Kids Fitness Day Activities

  1. Make a movement playlist

    Put together a workout playlist to inspire you. Do you already have one? Update it with new music to get re-energized so you can hit those fitness goals.

  2. Invite people to work out

    Having others join in your physical activity can make it even more fun. There’s also a little bit of playful competition involved that can happen to boost everyone’s motivation.

  3. Try out a new exercise

    Shake up your routine with a new exercise. It avoids boredom and can supplement your present workout. For example, runners can benefit from taking in yoga to help reduce injuries and increase flexibility.

5 Ways To Encourage Children To Exercise

  1. Give gifts that encourage physical activity

    Bicycles, basketballs, rollerblades, skateboards, and even active-play video games are great gifts that promote movement.

  2. Exercise as a form of transportation

    Walking to school, skating to a friend’s house, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator helps get kids moving.

  3. Make it a friendly competition

    A little competition makes for big motivation so set up a contest between you and your child on who can run faster or do jumping jacks, for example.

  4. Ask your children’s friends to join in

    Inviting your kids’ friends to participate in physical activities makes it more enjoyable for everyone.

  5. Try to make it fun

    Children and adults will likely stick to an exercise or activity if it’s fun, so encourage this such as playing music they like during the workout.

Why We Love National Kids Fitness Day

  1. It motivates kids to move

    Obesity has become a big problem in the U.S. Encouraging kids to move helps decrease the number of overweight individuals. Bonus points if they can play outside as well.

  2. It reminds us to take care of ourselves

    Part of a healthy lifestyle is incorporating physical activity into your everyday life. Kids who learn this lesson early grow up to be physically fit adults.

  3. It encourages togetherness

    Kids who work out with friends and family are more likely to stick to their exercise routine. Plus it’s a lot more enjoyable to sweat it out together!

National Kids Fitness Day dates

YearDateDay
2023May 4Thursday
2024May 4Saturday
2025May 4Sunday
2026May 4Monday
2027May 4Tuesday

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