When parents think about the exercise habits of their children these thoughts probably only start in middle school. It’s at this time where there are a variety of sports and clubs available. The child might want to try something new or join a team with their friends. But why isn’t physical activity encouraged more for toddlers?
According to the National Association of Sports and Physical Education, children should get at least 60-minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each day. There are also guidelines for infants and toddlers, toddlers recommended to get at least 30-minutes physical activity per day and preschoolers at least 60-minutes.
It should also be mentioned that exercise for toddlers is play-based. Toddlers are encouraged to run, jump, hop and skip and play games that require them to move their bodies. Exercise for toddlers does not mean running a mile or doing sets of squats.
As a parent of two young children and a fitness professional and exercise enthusiast I just can’t wrap my head around why toddlers get ignored when it comes to physical activity?
I know first hand that as parents it’s usually us finding a way to have our toddlers sit still or not be as active. Toddlers have so much energy! I have been exhausted on many occasions chasing after mine.
But they need to move. Toddlers need to in order to master gross motor skills that include running and jumping. Those interested in childhood milestones in the early years know how big jumping with two feet in the air is.
While researching and studying as much as I can on youth fitness, I find that even elite fitness professionals that led classes and workshops for youth exercise specialization skip right over 2-5-year-olds. This is typically under the assumption that they practice and master the fundamentals of movement and motor skills in daycare and preschool.
The issue I have is what if they don’t? Even more so during COVID with limited time spent in classrooms or time spent mostly at home, is the opportunity for toddlers to be physically active limited? Are parents more willing to hand over Fire tablets and turn on Cocomelon on the TV so they can get their work done?
Are parents avoiding public play places with gym equipment and educational toys that encourage play and movement like trampolines that they don’t have at home? Are these establishments even open?
Even without the pandemic, there are few organized sports and activities for toddlers. Since I know the importance of encouraging a healthy and active lifestyle, my children have done everything from Soccer Shots to mommy-and-me dance classes.
This post is not intended to sell me or my program, but further fuels my fire to deliver high-quality, age-appropriate physical activity programs for toddlers.
I feel like there is such a gap in this market and we should set our children up for success at an early age to be healthy and encourage movement. I still don’t understand why we focus so much on our toddler’s diet but very little is said on how much physical activity they are getting.
With childhood obesity on the rise and the current pandemic looming over us all, let’s make sure our toddlers are getting exercise and being the healthiest they can be. According to the Institute of Medicine, about 1/3 of American children and adolescents are obese or at risk of becoming obese. Obesity rates have tripled for kids ages 2-5 in the past 30 years.
Toddler classes are so important right now because not only do this population need to move in order for developmental growth, but also to decrease the risk of obesity. Parents should want to start teaching them healthy habits from an early age and promote wellness now more than ever.
For those interested in my toddler fitness classes, check out my website at Those Runner Kids.
Those Runner Kids is an 8-week toddler class in south NJ that introduces children to concepts of running and fitness in a fun and engaging way.
Skills taught include:
- Gross motor skills: running, jumping, throwing, catching
- Coordination development
- Spatial awareness
- Speed and agility