Kids Heart Challenge

New School Year Calls for Healthy Habits to Get Back on Track

The school bell will ring soon for children in Northern Nevada. The new school year is an exciting time for students and educators and perfect for refocusing and reprioritizing healthy habits. It is important to develop healthy habits at a young age given that the early years play a vital role in the development of health-related behaviors that carry into adolescence and adulthood.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ latest Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans[1] only 20% of kids get enough activity to meet physical activity recommendations. In addition to improved physical health, the benefits of physical activity for children include better grades, school attendance and classroom behavior. Physical activity can also help kids feel better, improve mental health, build self-esteem, and decrease and prevent conditions such as anxiety and depression[2].

Kids should be active throughout the day and replace sedentary behaviors whenever possible. Getting active as a family can be fun and be a path to keep everyone healthy. Find activities after-school and on the weekends that cut down on screen and sofa time. Try riding bikes, playing soccer, cranking up music for a dance party or taking a walk as a family after dinner. There are so many fun and engaging ways that families can marry together moving more and bonding over the experience.

School-age kids and teens ages 6-17 should try to get at least 60 minutes per day of moderate- to vigorous-intensity activity. It can be broken up into shorter sessions throughout the day. Check with your child’s school to see how much physical education and recess time they are getting in the school day. Schools are a critical link in providing the foundation for cardiovascular wellness in our country by helping students develop healthy habits at an early age.

Another way to help get kids excited is through school programs dedicated to the mental and physical health of students. The American Heart Association offers school programs designed to bring expanded curriculum resources to classrooms; rooted in proven science which has shown that kids who are regularly active have a better chance of a healthy adulthood[3]. The Kids Heart Challenge for elementary schools offers four physical activations to get students’ hearts pumping: jumping rope, practicing basketball skills, dancing or completing an obstacle course. The curriculum prepares kids for success by supporting their physical and emotional well-being, offers new learning resources and physical activities to meet the needs of today’s youth and educators. The American Heart Challenge is a complementary program tailored to middle and high school students.

Parents and schools interested in bringing the American Heart Association’s in-school programs to their children should visit


[1, 2, 3] Department of Health and Human Services, Physical Activity Guidelines, page 14. Available for download here: