By the time kids are 3 to 5 years old, their physical skills, like running, jumping,
kicking, and throwing, have come a long way. Now they'll continue to refine these
skills and build on them to learn more complex ones.
Take advantage of your child's natural tendency to be active. Regular physical
activity promotes healthy growth and development and learning new skills builds confidence.
Fitness for Preschoolers
Physical activity guidelines recommend that preschoolers:
are physically active throughout the day
move and engage in both active play and structured (adult-led) physical activity
Preschoolers should participate in a variety of fun and challenging physical activities
that help build skills and coordination, but aren't beyond their abilities. Preschoolers
should be active about 3 hours a day, including light, moderate, and vigorous activities.
Kids this age are learning to hop, skip, and jump forward, and are eager to show
off how they can balance on one foot, catch a ball, or do a somersault. Preschoolers
also might enjoy swimming, playing on a playground, dancing, and riding
a tricycle or bicycle with training wheels.
Many parents look to organized
sports to get preschoolers active. But the average preschooler has not mastered
the basics, such as throwing, catching, and taking turns. Even simple rules may be
hard for them to understand, as any parent who has watched their child run the wrong
way during a game knows.
And starting too young can be frustrating for kids and may discourage future participation
in sports. So if you decide to sign your preschooler up for soccer or another team
sport, be sure to choose a peewee league that focuses on fun and learning the fundamentals.
Family Fitness Tips
Playing together, running in the backyard, or using playground equipment at a local
park can be fun for the entire family.
Other activities to try together, or for a group of preschoolers to enjoy, include:
playing games such as "Duck, Duck, Goose" or "Follow the Leader," then mixing
it up with jumping, hopping, and walking backward
kicking a ball back and forth or into a goal
hitting a ball off a T-ball stand
playing freeze dance or freeze tag
Kids can be active even when they're stuck indoors. Designate a safe play area
and try some active inside games:
Treasure hunt: Hide "treasures" throughout the house and provide clues to their
Obstacle course: Set up an obstacle course with chairs, boxes, and toys for the
kids to go over, under, through, and around.
Soft-ball games: Use soft foam balls to play indoor basketball, bowling, soccer,
or catch. You can even use balloons to play volleyball or catch.
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 enjoy sports and exercise tend to stay active throughout their lives.
And being active can improve learning and attention, prevent obesity,
and decrease the risk of serious illnesses such as high
blood pressure, diabetes,
and heart disease later in life.