Toddlers were made for exercise. They play hard, usually on full speed, until they suddenly crash and take a two-hour nap.
They don’t look at running as a chore – to them, it’s a thrill. They love to climb, jump and dance. And all that activity is good for them. It gives them strong muscles and keeps their weight in check. It keeps their cholesterol down, their arteries healthy and gives them a way to relieve their stress.
While toddlers are naturally active, you can help them ramp up their activity level with a few simple steps.
Make Activity a Habit
If they look at activity as the natural thing to do, they’ll keep doing it, potentially their whole life. Starting your baby early with the habit of regular exercise is one of the best things you can do to safeguard your child’s future health.
Whether you take a family walk every evening after dinner, or you have a mid-afternoon dance party once a week, consistency is key. Your child will look forward to the scheduled activity and spending time with you. If the whole family gets into it, everyone will benefit.
Focus on Overall Fitness
If your child is constantly running, but doesn’t like to test out his arm strength, take him to the playground. Get him to attempt to use the monkey bars or see how long he can hang from a pull-up bar.
Or if your child will happily sit down and draw all day, but can’t seem to run longer than a few seconds at a time, work on her endurance. Play some games that involve running, like tag, or have a couple of impromptu races in your yard.
Find a Class
There are a lot of opportunities for classes geared toward activity for toddlers. You can find tumbling classes or dance classes in many cities and gyms across the country. Not only will your children be staying active, but they’ll be learning a new skill and making friends in the process.
Skip the Stroller
Strollers are a great device to keep your child moving at your pace. They are also a lifesaver for when your child gets too tired to walk and your arms can’t stand carrying him any longer. But strollers also rob your child of the chance to get more physical activity. Every minute he sits in a stroller is one less minute of activity he’ll get.
You can compromise by walking him to a park in his stroller and then letting him roam free at the playground. Or you can wheel the empty stroller with you on your walk for that inevitable moment when he’ll get too tired to keep walking.
Swim Your Way to Health
Heading to the pool will give your toddler a lot of exercise and he won’t even realize it because he’ll be too busy having fun. Getting your toddler comfortable in the pool will also help him learn to swim down the road.
Shannon Serpette is a mother of two and an award-winning journalist and freelancer who lives in Illinois. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.