Being physically fit is a good idea for everyone-even pre-school age children. Children who are inactive risk becoming overweight later in life.
Before you begin a daily fitness routine with your preschooler it is important to understand what your child can do and what skills are appropriate for this
age. You want to engage your child in activities that are fun and challenging, but not beyond their abilities. (Remember, not all children develop physically at the same rate).
What physical activities can I expect from my 3-5 year old?
- By age 3 – go up and down stairs alternating their feet, jump in place, and throw overhand.
- By age 4 – catch a bounced ball, run and jump, pedal a tricycle.
- By age 5 – skip, balance on one foot, somersault, “pump” on a swing.
What can I do at home to help my preschooler stay physically fit?
- Turn off the TV and computer. Limiting “screen time” allows more opportunities for active play.
- Provide at least 60 minutes a day for active free play. Offer plenty of opportunities to climb, jump, swim, throw, dig, and run in a safe place until they are tired.
- Offer toys that encourage active play such as riding toys, balls, climbers, or swing sets.
- Always keep safety in mind! Make sure the activities and toys you provide are appropriate for their developmental stage and the play equipment is well kept and free from hazards.
- Find ways to make exercise fun. Dance together, play games like “Follow the Leader,” “Duck, Duck, Goose,” and “Hide and Seek.”
- Get involved in structured activities that interest your child. Take swimming, ballet, or gymnastics lessons. Classes should focus on fun and building skills, not winning or losing.
- Set a good example. Let your child see you eating healthy and being active. Emphasize becoming strong and healthy, and not losing weight or being thin.
The goal is to show your child that being active and healthy can be fun. The habits that are developed in your child now will benefit them far into their adult lives.