Did you know that babies AND toddlers should get 60 minutes of physical activity every day? That’s right. Your little one should be feeling the burn everyday. Also, they shouldn’t be sedentary for more than 60 minutes at a time while awake. WebMD sites the National Association of Sports and Physical Education as saying newborns to preschoolers need a daily exercise regimen to stay healthy.
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, children who are physically active early in life and stay active throughout childhood enjoy many positive benefits both to their physical and emotional health. In addition to just being fun for kids, having an exercise routine can also help prevent childhood obesity down the road. Consider the fact that we live in the age of iPads, Leap Frogs and TV. There are a lot of hurdles to overcome to ensure that our kids have a natural desire to be on the move.
So How Early Is Too Early For Kid Exercise?
Believe it or not, you can start kid exercises from day one. That doesn’t mean you need to hustle down to your local sporting goods store and search for a baby warm up. (Not sure if these actually exist, but I bet they would be super cute.) For newborns, they begin exercising from the time they start feeding. The actual process of feeding helps to strengthen a little one’s lungs. All the actions from breathing to sucking to swallowing is enough exercise for your baby. Now even though your precious little one is getting stronger every day just by learning the basics, you can still be an excellent role model. Just by having your little one watch you work out, you can get the ball rolling. Here are a few examples:
- Go for a walk with your little one facing you in the stroller
- Set your baby up to watch you work out at home
- Conduct your yoga practice or do rigorous housework while wearing your baby (Check out Atlantic Daydream’s blogger, Tiff DeLancy, on her perspective on babywearing and practicing yoga.)
Photo Credit – Tiff Delancy @namastetiff
And as your little one grows, playtime and tummy time are also forms of kid exercise. Holding her head up, or rolling over are all excellent forms of movement and exercise for your child. You can help your baby improve upon these milestones down the road by:
- Having a dance party with him – hold him while you dance together
- Help your baby roll over and do baby sit-ups
- Turn your little one into a “superhero” and help “fly” her around the room
Well I Have A Toddler, And She’s On The Move Already
If you have a little one who is on the move, odds are you’re both getting plenty of exercise. Chasing him or her around is great for both of you. But if you want to kick your workout up a notch, add some toys, musical instruments, sports equipment and even cleaning gear to the mix. (Mini-brooms are available on Amazon here.) In terms of cleaning, the expectation isn’t to turn your princess into Cinderella, its more about letting her experience the world with a hands-on approach to movement. Most likely you’ll do more cleaning up afterwards, but it is still fun and it’s exercise. And it’s also a mood-booster for your child. Some other great mood-boosting activities for the walker in your home are:
- Jumping Rope
For additional mood-boosting exercises, check out WebMD’s list.
Get Your Little One On The Go With A Movement Class
So you work out with your little one at home, but you’re ready to take it to the next level. We’re not talking P90X here, just a movement class or two designed with your child in mind. At NEST Chestnut Hill, they offer classes that help parents and little ones work out together. From 6 weeks to 6 years, they have classes to help keep your child on her toes and to encourage her to continue in life. Their class philosophy promotes exploration, not competition in our classes. At this age competition isn’t the end goal, it’s about having fun and being healthy. Beginning November 2nd, they’ve added Sports to their Fall 2 Movement offerings which already include Gymnastic, Dance and Tumbling. And whereas they would love to see your little one in every class, keep in mind the adage “Everything in moderation.” Too many kid exercise classes may overwhelm your child, so even if you love every class, try them out firsthand to see which one or two fits best with your family. For a full listing of their Fall 2 classes, visit their website or even better email their Program Director, Susie Anhorn, firstname.lastname@example.org for a full rundown on their Movement classes.
Originally published for NEST Chestnut Hill