- Encouraging kids to move helps them refine motor skills
- Parent-child exercises are easy and make workout time feel more like playtime
Looking after a young child doesn’t leave much time for exercise, although some would argue that chasing them around is a workout in itself. If you’re having trouble keeping up with healthy habits with a toddler in tow, the good news is there are plenty of exercises you can do together. What’s more, they’re so easy to do that your workout may just feel more like playtime.
Before we get into the fun activities you can do with your toddler, keep in mind there is a recommended daily number of minutes where a toddler should be active. A two to three-year-old should get at least one to one and a half hours of physical activity a day and not be inactive for more than one hour, except for sleeping. Kids are naturally active but encouraging movement ensures healthy development and refines motor skills such as catching, kicking and balancing. Active kids also have a lower risk of developing childhood obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes later on in life.
An average two-year-old toddler weighs around twenty-two to twenty-six pounds. Calories burned during play depends on many factors – a toddler certainly doesn’t burn as much as a ten-year-old, however, exercise accompanied by appropriate caloric intake is extremely important for helping your child maintain a healthy weight.That being said, what activities can you do with your little one to ensure you both stay healthy and fit?
Bear crawls. Bear crawls are a great way to work your core muscles. Since you’re continuously moving, it ends up working your entire body including your shoulders and glutes. To do this:
- Get down on all fours with your arms straight and hands below your shoulders.
- Bend your knees ninety degrees below your hips so that only your hands and toes touch the ground.
- Keep your back flat and crawl forward moving opposite hands and feet forward.
You’ve probably seen your toddler bear crawl before, and now you can do it together. Bear crawling enhances balance and improves coordination and mobility. Try this activity in your home where you have a lot of free space to move around. You can make this fun by making bridges with your body at certain intervals and having your toddler bear crawl underneath!
Remember the “Hokey Pokey”? It may seem like an old song to you, but it’s brand new to children. The “Alphabet Song” is another great song that teaches kids while stimulating activity. Encourage your kids to get up and dance by playing exercise songs designed for moving. You’ll get your heart rate up, and your toddler will have fun following along with the music. While this type of structured dancing is an option, you can always play upbeat music and freestyle dance moves with your toddler.
Bike or run
If you have a bike, consider attaching a trailer so you can take your little one out on rides. As you’re cycling, point out aspects of the scenery and try to keep your child awake and in tune with their surroundings. If you’re a runner, there are many backpack and carrier variations available that are designed to safely hold your child. Until your toddler is old enough to climb or go for runs, this is a great way to enjoy the outdoors together without compromising your exercise routine.
Take a break from simply carrying your toddler – squat with them instead. You can also try doing modified sit-ups with your child on your stomach. Bend your knees, then roll forward and back down again. The added weight will add greater resistance to your workout, making it more effective and your baby will benefit from learning balance and a strengthened lower body.
Act like an animal
Ask your child to choose an animal, then take turns acting like them. For example, you can walk like an elephant, run like a tiger, hop like a frog, or fly like a butterfly. This activity is not only fun, it gets strengthens your child’s larger muscles and gets their entire body moving.
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.