You might think your toddler doesn’t need to ‘work out’ but experts say that it’s never too early to encourage your child into an exercise.
This doesn’t mean the same type of fitness regime you put yourself through but about making sure your child gets the physical activity they should be getting to assist their development.
For example, a child won’t run for 30 minutes non-stop from point A to point B, but they will run flat out for 5-10 seconds, pause, run again, pause which is just how it should be.
“Young children don’t need to get their heart rates into a certain range. What’s important is developing their fundamental movement skills such as running, jumping, throwing, catching, kicking and so forth,” says personal trainer Larysa DiDio, co-author of a book entitled Sneaky Fitness: Fun, foolproof ways to slip fitness into your child’s everyday life.
It also helps establish healthy habits.
“Children are naturally into fitness. The challenge is to keep them that way and to set them up for the healthiest future possible.”
Here are some suggestions from Larysa’s book on ways to engage your toddler in activity without them even realising!
- Make music – get out the spoons and saucepans and form your own marching band around the house
- Chase bubbles – you make the bubbles, they have to chase them!
- “Simon says” – include a variety of stretching, bending, jumping and heart-pumping moves
- Paint a mural: set up a space (such as the kitchen floor) covered with paper taped together and covering the surface, and let your child decorate the entire surface with crayons or finger paint
- Walk the line: place a skipping rope or tape on the floor and challenge your child to walk the line without straying from it. (Skipping rope makes it slightly more challenging).
- Dig to China: give your child a plastic shovel and bucket and tell them to dig the biggest hole possible to China (or wherever). Make it a muscle builder by making them fill the bucket and lugging it to another part of the yard.
- Hopscotch: you played it, your own mum played it, and it’s still a good one.
- Jumping through hoops: place several hula hoops on the ground and have your child step through each one in order. You can make it more challenging by having them hop on one foot – but make sure they use both feet.
- Limbo: another oldie, but goodie. Using a skipping rope or broom to create a horizontal line, have them shimmy under.