Kids this age are walking and running, kicking, and throwing. They're naturally
active, so be sure to provide lots of chances for your child to practice and build
on these skills.
How much is enough? Physical activity guidelines for toddlers recommend that each
get at least 30 minutes of structured (adult-led) physical activity
get at least 60 minutes of unstructured (active free play) physical activity
not be inactive for more than 1 hour at a time except when sleeping
What Kids Can Do
It's important to understand what kids can do and what skills are appropriate for
this age. By age 2, toddlers should be able to walk and run well. They might be able
to kick a ball and jump in place with both feet. By age 3, toddlers usually can balance
briefly on one foot, kick a ball forward, throw a ball overhand, catch a ball, and
pedal a tricycle.
Keep these skills in mind when encouraging your child to be active. Play games
together and provide age-appropriate active toys, such as balls, push and pull toys,
and riding vehicles. Through practice, toddlers will continue to improve and refine
their motor skills.
Mommy-and-me programs can introduce toddlers to tumbling, dance, and general movement.
But you don't have to enroll kids in a formal program to foster these skills. The
most important thing is to provide lots of opportunities to be active in a safe environment.
Family Fitness Tips
Walking, playing, exploring your backyard, or using playground equipment at a local
park can be fun for the entire family.
Also, these games provide fun and fitness for parents and toddlers:
Walk like a penguin, hop like a frog, or imitate other animals' movements.
Sit facing each other and hold hands. Rock back and forth and sing the song "Row,
row, row your boat."
Bend at the waist and touch the ground. Walk your hands forward and inch along
like a caterpillar.
Sit on the ground and let your child step over your legs, or make a bridge with
your body and let your child crawl under.
Play follow the leader, "Ring around the rosy," and other similar games.
Listen to music and dance together.
The possibilities are endless — come up with your own active ideas or follow
your child's lead. Also, limit the amount of time your child spends watching TV (including
DVDs and videos) or playing on a computer, tablet, or smartphone.
When Should I Call the Doctor?
If your child doesn't want to play or join other kids in sports or complains of
pain during or after being active, talk with your doctor.
Kids who are active at young age tend to stay active throughout their lives. And
staying fit can improve self-esteem,
prevent obesity, and decrease the risk of serious illnesses such as high
blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease later in life.