Most toddlers are bundles of energy and constantly on-the-go so you might wonder why would we need to help them exercise? There are many benefits to be gained from planning and implementing a regular exercise schedule for your toddler.
Uncontrolled energy can lead to fidgeting and frustration. The National Association of Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) recommends that toddlers should get a least 30 minutes of structured exercise (such as a walk or tricycle ride) and at least one hour of unstructured exercise (running around the yard or a park) every day. The benefits are numerous.
Toddlers who exercise regularly
Maintain a better weight
Are less likely to succumb to heart disease, diabetes, and some forms of cancer later in life
How to make sure your toddler gets the exercise they need
There's nothing better than fresh air and sunshine to get you in the mood to move. Take your toddler to the local park, walk there if possible, and let them burn off some energy running and climbing. If you are short of time, let them run around the yard. Encourage them to ride a bike, kick a ball, teach them to catch a ball. Play with them, don't just send them outside. Walk every chance you get. When running errands, park your vehicle far away from the store. Use the stairs instead of an elevator. Every single step helps.
Have a routine
Just as it is important to have a regular lunch time and nap time, it is also important to have a routine when it comes to exercising. Children feel safe if they know what to expect. Set aside time in each day to run, jump, exercise, and play.
It's easy to put your toddler in front of the TV or a DVD so that you can have a few minutes of peace and quiet or get some chores done. You should try and limit their TV time to no more than two hours per day and never all at one time. If they do watch TV a good idea is a DVD that encourages them to be active. As they get older they will be exposed to more and more electronic devices so it's important to set boundaries at a young age and create good habits now.
Join a team
Signing them up for a sports team not only encourages your toddler to be active but also teaches them discipline, socializing skills, and team spirit. There are many options available - Little League, soccer, tennis, swimming, etc. Ask other moms in the area what is available.
Lead by example
Children learn from watching and listening. If they see that you are organized and active they will learn how to be that way too. Similarly, if they see you enjoying your exercise time they will copy you. By making exercise fun you can create a lasting bond with your toddler while also teaching them lessons they will use throughout their life.
Get up and get moving!