Being physically active every day is important for the healthy growth and development of babies, toddlers and preschoolers. It’s important that your toddler or preschooler exercise regularly and avoid being sedentary. But why and how much exercise is enough?
Exercise for Kids
When most adults think about exercise, they imagine working out in the gym, running on a treadmill, or lifting weights.
But for toddlers and preschoolers, exercise means playing and being physically active. And it’s important that they get exercise, which is crucial for health growth.
Exercise for Toddlers
The National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) recommends that toddlers get at least 30 minutes of structured physical activity and at least 60 minutes of unstructured physical activity each day.
In fact, toddlers shouldn’t be sedentary for 1 hour at a time except when they sleep.
Exercise for Preschoolers
New guidelines released by Canadian researchers on Monday say kids aged one to four should get at least three hours of physical activity spread throughout the day.
Of course, that is the least time possible – your little bambino should also be physically active for several hours each day and shouldn’t remain seated for more than 60 minutes at a time unless they are sleeping.
What are Structured Physical Activity & Unstructured Physical Activity?
Structured Physical Activity
Structured Physical Activities are intentionally directed by an informed adult. These activities contribute to a child’s basic motor development and enjoyment of movement.
Structured activities can be either indoor or outdoor activities. Examples of structured activities are:
- Musical games
- Guided play with homemade props (yarn balls, simple bean bags, paper plate paddles, scoops made from milk cartons)
- Games such as “Simon Says” or “Follow the Leader”
These activities will definitely make your child jump, run, walk, etc. with joy and excitement as well as get them good health.
Unstructured Physical Activity
Unstructured physical activities are not directed by an adult and are often called “free time” or “self-selected free play,” . For instance children playing on a playground, rolling around the garden, chasing others or dancing and singing to their favorite songs.
Keep in mind: Although unstructured activities are not directed by an adult, they should still be supervised by an adult.
No matter it’s structured activity or unstructured activity, should keep your child active and energetic all day.
Why your child has to exercise at such young age?
Regular physical activity can help your toddler stay at a healthy weight while playing, having fun, and developing physically, socially and emotionally. The earlier a child starts getting in shape, the more she’ll reduce her risk of numerous illnesses. Some benefits of physical activity:
- It strengthens the heart, lungs
The heart responds to exercise by becoming stronger and more efficient. Strengthening the heart muscle can help ward off heart disease. Also, being active and exercising increase lung capacity, and their efficiency in moving air in and out of the body. As a result, more oxygen is drawn into the body and more carbon dioxide and other waste gases are expelled. Regular exercise helps prevent the decline in oxygen intake that occurs naturally with age or as a result of inactivity.
- It regulates blood pressure.
Exercise has been shown to reduce stress levels. As the levels of stress in a person’s body subsides, his blood pressure and his risk for heart disease decline.
- It improves energy levels.
Regular exercise often makes people feel more energetic, allows them to be more active, and reduces the likelihood that they’ll tire during the day.
- It enhances emotional and mental health, keeps your child happy inside out.
There is accumulating evidence that walking, and physical activity more generally, can be an effective way to enhance positive moods. For example, people with high levels of regular physical activity have been shown to have higher levels of positive emotions such as interest, excitement, enthusiasm and alertness compared to people with moderate and low levels of physical activity. Therefore, starting exercise at such young age will have positive effects on your child in long term and during the lifespan.
In a nutshell, regular physical activity can help your kids stay at a healthy weight while playing, having fun, and developing physically, socially and emotionally.