Toddlers are full of energy; in fact it’s nearly impossible to keep up with them half of the time. So how in the world are the vast majority of toddlers so deficient in active playtime? The main reason largely originates from watching too much television and playing on gadgets. Regardless why a child is not getting adequate exercise, it is proven to negatively impact their overall development.
The average child between the ages of 2 and 4 should get at least 3-hours of exercise each day to be considered healthy. It’s quite alarming that only one out of every 10 toddlers is getting adequate daily exercise for optimum development.
Inactive children turn into inactive adults. On the other hand, active toddlers are far more likely to turn into active adults, thus impacting life-long health and happiness.
Easy Equation To See If Your Toddler Is Getting Enough Exercise
Is your toddler physically active for at least 3-hours each day?
It might be easy to assume yes or no, but the only way to know for certain is to keep track of all time spent engaging in physical activity for at least one week. Every time your child participates in a physical activity take note of the time, adding up daily totals as you go. If your child is enrolled at ABC Learning, talk to his or her teacher about the time spent exercising and being physically active during the school day.
Once you get to the end of your 7-day week, add up all hours from each day and then divide by 7. The number you get is your daily average, which should be no less than 3 hours per day. If it is under the mark, it’s time to start brainstorming new ways to get your child more active.
What Constitutes ‘Physical Activity’?
Grown ups run, lift weights or take a Pilates classes in order to exercise, but what constitutes healthy physical exercise for toddlers? Just because your child is moving around and playing doesn’t necessarily mean they are getting enough exercise. That doesn’t mean you should force your child to run laps around the backyard. Instead, it’s all about making exercise fun.
Great exercise activities for toddlers include:
- Jumping on the trampoline
- Going for a walk around the block
- Playing at the park
- Climbing a jungle gym or swinging on the monkey bars
- Jump rope
- Playing a game of kick ball with the neighbors
Why Is Exercise Vital To Toddler Development?
Children that do not get enough exercise are at risk for a whole host of negative consequences. Inactivity leads to obesity, it’s just how the body works, and obesity leads to a variety of diseases and physical issues.
Heart disease is one of the biggest risk factors of obesity, and a leading cause of death in the US. The scary fact of the matter is, medical researchers have identified heart disease in obese children as young as 8-years-old.
Not only does activity keep kids fit and healthy, but it also helps produce strong bones. Kids that don’t get adequate exercise do not develop peak bone strength. Along with bones, toddler physical activity levels are also related to muscular and brain development. It’s not just physical issues that arise due to lack of activity; mental issues such as depression are also linked to exercise habits formed from a very early age.
12 Tips To Get Your Kids Exercising More
Obesity is literally killing our nation, but you don’t have to let it get the best of your child. Teach your toddler just how much fun exercise can be to help promote a lifelong love of staying active and being healthy.
Remember, it’s never too late to change up old habits and start getting your kid exercising more. Here are some great ways to get toddlers exercising and having a great time!
1. Go To The Park
The park instantly promotes your kid to get moving. There are steps to climb, slides to slide down, paths to walk across and swings to swing on. The endless lure of fun activities that all require exertion make for the perfect toddler-friendly exercise routine. Plus, it helps fill your child’s daily quota for fresh air and socialization with other children.
2. Take The Dog For A Walk
Having your toddler join you for walks with the dog will help fill up a lot of the 3-hour minimum necessary for a healthy dose of daily physical activity.
3. Go For A Walk
You don’t need a dog to go for a walk. You can have a great time just taking a stroll around the block with your kid. Add some fun to the outing by making a scavenger hunts for a particular type of flower or bird. You could also prompt your child to collect pebbles, sticks or anything else you could use for a nature-themed art project.
4. Have Your Toddler Walk The Stairs
Whenever there are stairs, have your toddler walk up them. Sure, it’s a lot quicker to scoop him or her up and jog up the steps, but sometimes the easiest way of doing something isn’t the most beneficial. Toddlers are slow and wobbly going up the stairs but the burst of physical activity is great for them on so many levels.
5. Limit TV Time
Toddlers should watch no more than 1-hour of TV each day. By simply limiting how long your toddler sits on the couch watching cartoons you are promoting him or her to do something active.
6. Plan Walks With Other Parents & Toddlers
Start a walking group with parents in your area and go for weekly walks. This gives you a chance to socialize with other parents and it gives your child a chance to do the same, all while getting exercise. You could meet up in the neighborhood or at a local park, pretty much anywhere the kids can explore and have fun together. By setting up group activities like this it helps everyone follow through.
7. Sign Toddlers Up For Classes
There are plenty of fun toddler-friendly classes like tumble class, tap-dance, or swim lessons. All of these activities, plus many more, are great for developing confidence and a number of skills. These sorts of classes are also a great way for your toddler to make new friends and figure what sorts of activities they do and don’t like.
8. Go Bowling
Exercise doesn’t have to feel like exercise. Fun family activities like bowling make the perfect way to get in some extra exercise on Friday night.
9. Work It Into The Schedule
People work well with schedules. When you do something at the same time all of the time it becomes a habit, and habits are hard to break. For example, have your child do 15 jumping jacks every evening before dinner, or go on a 15-minute walk every night after dinner. Routines like this can become fun and enjoyable family pastimes that don’t even feel like a healthy part of your daily exercise.
10. Let Your Child Pick What Activities They Want To Do
Ask your toddler what sorts of activities they like best. They may show an interest in a sport or activity you’ve never even considered before, of course they may end up hating the chosen activity, but that’s okay too. It’s all about allowing your child the chance to discover what fitness based activities they do and don’t like. By forcing your child to participate in exercises they do not enjoy you could cause your child to protest all forms of exercise in the future.
11. Make Exercise Fun With Charts & Rewards
Reward your child when they meet their required amount of exercise over a pre-designated period of time. Mark their physical activity with stickers on a homemade board. When your toddler meets a pre-specified goal give out a small reward, thus making exercise positive on a number of levels.
12. Set A Good Example
You are the biggest inspiration to your toddler, and so you must set a good example. If your child sees you living an active lifestyle, they are naturally being programed to do the same. Working out with your child is a great way to set a good example while also getting your child to work out.
Get Active With ABC Learning!
Sending your toddler to daycare at ABC Learning is a great way to help him or her get the exercise they need. We have a strong focus on stimulating exercises that help children grow mentally and physically to be the best that they can be.
British Heart Foundation study: http://www.bhfactive.org.uk/early-years-projects-item/527/index.html