Active living helps families enjoy life! It gives you more energy and helps you sleep. Toddlers (one to three years old) need 60 to 90 minutes of active play spaced throughout the day.
Preschoolers (four to five years old) need 90 minutes to two hours of active play spaced throughout the day. As often as possible, some of the play times should include time playing outside. For adults, 30 minutes of physical activity can provide health benefits. If you would like to prevent weight gain, aim for 60 minutes of activity each day. Moving more helps promote a healthful life for you and your child. Children often do what their parents do. Being active as a family teaches young children to become active. You do not have to spend extra money or get involved in sports. You can be active by doing everyday things.
Playing is good at any age. Playing with your child, not just watching your child play, helps build memories. You also will receive the benefits of more physical activity. Your involvement and enthusiasm supports your child’s play. Here are some ideas. Some can be done inside when it is too hot or too cold to be outside.
■ Create sidewalk art with chalk
■ Run through the garden sprinkler
■ Splash in a pool or a lake
■ Fly a kite or blow bubbles
■ Read a book and then act it out
■ Walk to the store or library
■ Enjoy a playground
■ Go on a walk
■ Create an obstacle course
You don’t have to limit activity to play. Here are some ideas for increasing physical activity and doing chores. Be sure to include the children!
■ Walk with your child to school
■ Use stairs when you can
■ Sweep the sidewalk or porch
■ Rake leaves
■ Wash the car or the dog
■ Put away toys
■ Wash, sweep or vacuum floors
■ Park at the far end of the parking lot and enjoy the long walk
Limit screen time
Set limits on computer, tablets, cell phones, gaming devices and TV time for everyone. Experts recommend no more than two hours of screen time per day. Children under the age of two do not benefit from watching TV.
Competitive sports aren’t the best choice for most young children. Children naturally start to do things in groups around eight to 10 years of age. To help your child have a lifelong active life, let them choose the type of activities they enjoy.
Reviewed by: Jenni Kinsey, MS, RD, LD & Hasina Rakotomanana, MS.
USDA.(2017) Nibbles for Health. Retrived from: https://www.fns.usda.gov/tn/nibbles-health-nutrition-newsletters-parents-young-children
AAP (2018). Preschooler – Physical Activity Recommendations. Retrieved from: https://www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/aap-health-initiatives/HALF-Implementation-Guide/Age-Specific-Content/Pages/Preschooler-Physical-Activity.aspx
Deana Hildebrand, PhD., RD,LD, Associate Professor & Extension Specialist
Christine Walters, RDN, LD, MS, Extension Program Assistant
Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service
Nutritional Sciences Department, Oklahoma State University