Exercise with a Toddler

Toddler playing at a playground

Running around after your energetic toddler might seem like enough exercise, but you still need focused activity for full fitness. Exercising with your toddler can benefit you both.

There are several good reasons to exercise with your young child. First, you need the exercise for stamina, fitness, and stress relief. Second, your child needs it as a way to deal with all of the energy that comes with the new-found freedom of walking and running. Finally, you are creating habits for life. Canada’s Physical Activity Guidelines suggest that children need at least 90 minutes per day of activity, and adults need at least 30 minutes of activity a day, including muscle strengthening. We all need to get active to stay healthy.

Make deliberate exercise a part of your child’s routine every day, and activity will become part of the fabric of your child’s life. You are creating patterns of health and fitness both through your child’s experience and through the behavior you model.

Exercising with a toddler differs from exercising with a baby. Your toddler can stand, so your activities can be separate. Your toddler can drift away, so you need to make the activities interesting enough to keep a busy little person’s attention. Your toddler has begun to develop personal preferences, so you need to tailor activities to each child.

Tips for Toddler Exercises

  • Make it developmentally appropriate. Don’t rely on memorizing anything, and be prepared to be silly.
  • Keep it short. A very young child probably won’t stay interested longer than 10-15 minutes, so you might want to do your own warm up and cool down alone and the vigorous exercise together.
  • Alternate bursts of activity with quieter periods. Yoga can be a great tool to help a busy toddler slow down, but some will get bored and resistant if you spend too much time on one slow activity. Try a slow-paced stretching activity or visualization exercise after a tiring activity.
  • Keep it interesting. Don’t do the same routine every day. Show up with surprises to keep attention and vary the activity.
  • Keep it playful. Don’t make this like work for your child. Everything is play for a very young child. Turn on the music and dance. Make it fun.

Image © Yanlev | Dreamstime.com

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