Three Ways to Encourage Exercise in Toddlers
It’s important to give children lots of opportunities to be physically active, toddlers learn how their bodies work (and burn off energy) by running, jumping, climbing, and exploring their world. But you probably don’t need to take extra steps to make sure your toddler exercises. But do you know how to channel their endless energy into exercise?
According to the National Association of Sport and Physical Education, a toddler should be logging 30 minutes of structured exercise (a planned physical activity such as a game of kickball or a tricycle ride) and at least an hour of unstructured exercise (like a session of free play at the park) every day. The reasons for this mandate are overwhelming: Children who are active not only sleep better and are better able to maintain a healthy weight, but they’re also much happier than couch potatoes. What’s more, active toddlers are more likely to stave off heart disease, diabetes, and some forms of cancer as they get older.
So how can you make sure toddlers get the exercise they need? Exercise comes in many forms, and it doesn’t have to cost you a penny. Here’s how to encourage a toddler to get moving:
Step outside. Whatever the weather, just being out in the fresh air and basking in the sunshine will inspire children to get moving. Take toddlers to a playground where they can climb, jump, and run. Stock the playground with toys that will keep a toddler active, such as a tricycle, riding toys, and balls for kicking.
Build fitness into the day. Walk to the library or supermarket whenever possible, and be sure to get toddlers out of their stroller so they can walk some of the way, too. If walking to the destination isn’t an option, park the car far from entrances so they will have a built-in mini walk.
Curb the couch-potato lifestyle. As much as you treasure the quiet that comes with a Disney DVD, try to limit a child’s TV time to no more than two hours a day, preferably not in one stretch, since kids this age shouldn’t be sedentary for more than an hour at a time. Remember, there will be even more electronics beckoning to a inquisitive toddler as they gets older, so setting limits on screen time now will help establish healthy habits down the road.
The possibilities are endless, children will enjoy exercise if you introduce it early and often.
We believe in championing parent engagement at The Gravely Group.
Jane Hull once said, “At the end of the day, the most overwhelming key to a child’s success is the positive involvement of parents.”