You might be surprised to learn it’s recommended that children aged between 1 and 5 should be physically active for at least three hours a day. Ideally this should be spread across the day, but you might find it’s easier to get them running about at the start of the day when they’re fresher.
What are the benefits of exercise for young children?
- You’re creating healthy habits from an early age
- It helps to build strong bones and muscles
- Being active helps a toddler’s coordination, posture and balance
- There’s reduced risk your child will become overweight or obese
- It encourages a healthy heart, lungs and arteries
- They’ll sleep better and maybe longer
- Your toddler may learn valuable social skills such as sharing and taking turns
The trick to keeping your child active and begging to do exercise is to make it fun and not a chore or a job. Encouraging your toddler to run whenever they’re out and about not only helps to burn energy but normalises physical activity.
Try making daily plans for when you and your child can be active, such as walking older children to school, visiting a park or the beach before lunch or playing catch or kick with a ball in the backyard just before you come inside for the evening.
Here are 5 activities your toddler will love:
1. Follow the leader
Whether it’s at home or the park, lead your child up and down and through obstacles and make it adventurous. Then let them have a turn being the leader, you might even find that other kids at the park join in the game.
2. Turn up the music
Take some sounds outside and get your dance on, not only will your toddler get a kick out of seeing you have fun they’ll want to copy your moves. Put that annoying recorder to good use and bring it outside, or use some old pots and pans and a wooden spoon as a drum kit.
3. Get creative on concrete
Bubbles are cheap entertainment and a great way to get toddlers active and they love running to catch them. Find a tennis court or unused pavement and get some chalk and make some wiggly lines to walk on or draw some circles or squares for your child to leap to and from.
4. Make the most of the mundane
Kids can get tired and bored if made to walk long distances so mix it up by telling them they must jump over cracks in the concrete or walk sideways like a crab whenever a white car drives past. Maybe run like a monkey or jump like a bunny, you’re only limited by your imagination.
5. The humble ball
You don’t need to spend big bucks and sign your child up to organised sports; in fact the humble ball is just as effective in getting your toddler active. Small bouncy ones can be used inside, depending on your house rules, and larger softer ones are fun on the trampoline or to roll across the lawn. Mix it up a little by buying balls that light up when they move or have different textures.
Try not to worry too much about your child falling over and scraping their knee; ‘risky’ play is an important part of how your child develops and learns. It also helps them to gain self confidence, know their limits and cope with unexpected challenges.
About the author - Emily Toxward:
When former journalist Emily Toxward isn’t wrangling her three kids she’s juggling the demands of her business Write Styling and failing fabulously at being a domestic goddess. A published writer for nearly 20 years, Emily left full-time work in 2008 to have children and write from home. Always on the go, she spends her days negotiating with an army of little people she created and visits her local Gold Coast beaches for a little sanity.
Healthy snacks on your adventures:
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