Anything that gets youngsters up and active is beneficial to their health.
Regular physical activity can help children improve cardiorespiratory fitness, build strong bones and muscles, control weight, and reduce the risk of developing health conditions like heart disease, cancer, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and osteoporosis.
Below are 11 quick exercises you can do with your toddler that will raise their heart rates, build their bodies and bones, and, most importantly, keep your toddler laughing, while you will work up a sweat and show them how fun exercise can be.
After all, if children regard exercise as a fun activity rather than a chore, they are more likely to engage in it.
Although it may appear simple, running is one of the most beneficial activities for children.
Running is especially beneficial since it helps them develop strong bones while also strengthening their muscles.
It helps them maintain a healthy weight when combined with a nutritious diet.
Children who develop a love of running and regard it as enjoyable might carry this into adulthood, setting them up for a lifetime of good behaviors.
Playing tag, setting up timed relays, or simply jogging in circles around the house will get your kids up and going.
Running is one of the most basic forms of exercise, and it's ideal for children's seemingly limitless energy and need for speed.
Jumping improves muscle strength, endurance, and cardiovascular fitness.
And who doesn't enjoy competing with a buddy, sibling, or even an adult to see who can jump the farthest?
These simple examples below can help you get your toddler’s feet up and off the ground:
Criss-cross feet: Jump straight up, then cross one foot in front of the other; switch feet and continue on the next jump.
Hurdle hops: Over a mock hurdle, jump side-to-side or front-to-back.
Jumping jacks: While jumping, stretch your arms and legs out to the sides like a starfish; on the second jump, return your arms to the sides and your legs to the center on the landing.
One-foot hops: Alternate lifting one knee and jumping on the standing leg. (It's also a good balance challenge.)
Tuck jumps: While jumping, bend your knees and lift your heels high.
Hopscotch: Use chalk outdoors or masking tape indoors to make a hopscotch board (a grid of numbered squares). There are a variety of methods to play, but they all involve throwing a tiny object (such as a beanbag) onto one of the squares. They then attempt to navigate the course without landing in that square by hopping, skipping, or jumping.
Jumping rope: Have your kids jump rope for a timed duration. You can amp up the difficulty by asking them to go forward and back, or make it more competitive by seeing which child gets the most skips in a set amount of time.
One last idea: Story time does not have to be limited to bedtime. Choose a book with a frequently repeated word. If you're reading The Cat in the Hat, for example, choose the word "hat” and make your child do a jumping jack every time the term appears in the story.
Swimming is one of the best forms of exercise and can be extremely beneficial to your child's growth.
Children are naturally drawn to water, and to many kids it seems more like playtime than work.
As children grow, they can take their swimming skills everywhere they go.
Swimming ability is like riding a bicycle in that it never fades away.
In addition, swimming with your toddler is one of the best bonding experiences you can establish with your child. It’s just the two of you.
No outside distractions and your toddler gets that quality one-on-one time with you that they crave.
4. Stretching and Yoga
Yoga strengthens children's bodies as they grow and improves their flexibility, which can help them avoid injury.
Yoga also teaches self-control and curbs impulsivity.
Yoga positions can be an easy and enjoyable method for children to get some exercise.
Tree Pose, Downward-Facing Dog, Upward-Facing Dog, Cobra, Child's Pose, and Happy Baby are a few simple and pleasant postures for toddlers to attempt.
Stretching has numerous benefits, including lowering the risk of injury, increasing range of motion, and maintaining muscular flexibility and strength.
Most importantly, stretching has been shown to lower stress levels.
A stretching routine and cool-down can also help your toddler shift into a more relaxed condition after a workout, reducing the risk of injury.
Side stretches, hamstring stretches, fingers-to-toes stretches, arm circles, arms to the sky stretches, calf stretches, and runner's stretch are all good stretches for your toddler to attempt.
All this exercise with your toddler is probably making them pretty thirsty!
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5. Indoor Ball Games
Ball games, whether played indoors or outdoors, can provide excellent exercise for your toddler.
Aerobic exercise, balance, and coordination practice are just a few of the advantages. (Plus, children are drawn to any activity that incorporates a ball.)
If inside, a soft ball, such as a squishy yoga ball, a foam ball, or even bean bags, is great for keeping games safe and injury-free.
If you're using a little or hard ball, or if your toddler is still learning to coordinate, wearing properly fitting protection gear is always a good idea.
Some examples of indoor ball games that don’t require a lot of space include:
- Tossing balls into laundry baskets.
- Hitting balls at a target with a household object.
- Using a plastic mixing bowl to catch balls.
- Throwing, rolling, or kicking a ball against the wall.
Other ideas include dribbling, passing, and rolling a ball back and forth between partners.
6. Hula Hooping
Hula Hooping is more than fun - it is, after all, a workout!
Hula hooping strengthens core muscles while also improving coordination and balance.
Toddlers will struggle to hula hoop so it's more for fun and general play. For example, hula hoops are great for introducing young children to obstacle courses.
For example, a fairly simple activity is to set a hula hoop on the floor and jump inside the circle.
Your toddler will be eager to follow in your footsteps.
Put it on the floor and practice jumping in/out, side-to-side.
Use two, three, or more hula hoops after a while. Your toddler will enjoy following you from hula hoop to hula hoop.
Another idea is to send the hula hoop rolling across the floor or yard, your toddler will love running or crawling after them.
Grab your toddler’s favorite stuffed animals, or use bean bags or rolled up socks.
Place a couple hula hoops on the floor and toss the plush animals inside the circles.
Toddlers will enjoy tossing the stuffed animals into the circles from a distance of a few feet.
You could also use a hula hoop as a steering wheel to drive an imaginary car all around the house!
Turn on the music and shake your groove thang!
You may have observed that getting your toddler to dance doesn't take much.
They'll start moving if you play a catchy song with a good rhythm.
Dancing with props may be a lot of fun!
Consider getting your toddler a musical instrument (nothing fancy at first; you can even make your own with wooden spoons and pots and pans), fun clothing (such as skirts that flare when your toddler spins or shoes that make a lot of noise on a hard floor), a microphone, and, best of all, a full-length mirror so they can check out their moves.
Freeze dance is a fun way to improve your toddler’s listening abilities.
The rules are simple: dance when the music is playing, then freeze in your posture and hold it till the music resumes.
Continue to start and stop the music, laughing at the amusing positions you both find yourself in.
Have a dance party with everyone’s favorite music.
Let everyone contribute to the playlist so that there is a song for everyone to go crazy with.
It's now easier than ever to learn how to bust a move thanks to handy how-tos on YouTube.
You could even attempt teaching your toddler how to moonwalk. The possibilities are truly limitless!
Find some marching band music and put on a parade in the backyard.
There are so many ways to make the most of your child's natural desire to dance.
As long as you've got music, there's no limit to the fun you and your toddler can have dancing.
8. Playing Superhero
The abdominal, back, and pelvic muscles make up the core muscles, which are the control center for everything the body does.
Things like balancing, making coordinated motions on both sides of the body, jumping, sitting up straight in a chair, and completing arm and hand tasks like holding a pencil and controlling scissors will be challenging if your toddler lacks strong core muscles.
The key to developing core muscles and making it interesting for your toddler is to make core exercises fun!
Have your little one fly like the superhero and strengthen his back!
What child wound’t enjoy releasing their inner superhero?
What to do: Lie down on your stomach, arms stretched out in front of you. As if you were flying (with a cape on!), arch your back and lift your chest, arms, and legs off the ground. Return to the starting position after a brief hold.
How To Change It Up: Place a ball between your toddler’s hands and feet. Place a plush animal on your child's back and see whether he or she can finish the activity without the animal falling.
To make it more interesting, have the child reach up for you to hand him puzzle pieces, paste stickers on the wall, or blow bubbles right above and in front of his head. Make it even more fun by trying it on a swing or a large exercise ball.
9. Balloon Games
Have you ever seen your child completely enamored with a balloon at a birthday party?
Add a few "rules" to that fascination, and they'll be joyfully moving around, strengthening their gross motor skills while burning off some of that rambunctious energy.
Try some of these favorite balloon games and always keep a few handy to pull out when the going gets tough:
Don’t Let The Balloon Touch The Ground: This is a traditional game that all children like. The rules are simple: launch the balloon into the air while avoiding contact with the ground. Time them to see how long they can do it for, or have them count how many times they can hit it back and forth... then challenge them to beat their previous time or score! This game is wonderful for strengthening your toddler’s arms and improving their hand-eye coordination.
Penguin Waddle: Waddle across the room with a balloon between your child's knees, without dropping it. If they drop it, they'll have to start over. Once they've gotten the hang of it, set your timer to see how quickly they can complete the task.
Balloon Blow: Make a "course" for your toddler to follow and see whether he or she can blow a balloon all the way to the finish line. They'll be doing a lot of army crawls to improve on their upper body and core strength.
10. Put on a Fashion Show
Kids enjoy dressing up and expressing themselves and this idea takes that enjoyment to a whole new level.
Make a runway out of tape or kraft paper and encourage your fashionistas to walk on while the music is played.
You can act as the judge, awarding marks on their overall strut, ingenuity, and flair.
Put together a trunk or bin of goodies containing items such as old clothing,
Halloween costumes, shoes, necklaces, wigs, and other accessories.
It will be a memory that your toddler will cherish for the rest of their lives and a fun way to meet that daily exercise quota.
For a bit of extra fun, tell your friends and family about it, and perhaps you can persuade them to set a date when you can all come together and put on a big show!
Bicycling promotes a positive mental attitude, relieves stress, strengthens family bonds and produces lasting memories with your toddler through engagement.
It’s also a great way to develop your toddler’s full body muscle and has been connected to children's bone health and strength and is shown to aid in cardiovascular muscle growth.
Cycling, above all, aids in the development of your child's lungs and heart.
Keep your mileage limited, especially in the beginning, and bring lots of food and beverages.
Your toddler will need to stretch their legs, so look for a location with grass or a play area.
Hopefully, you'll be instilling in your children a lifelong passion for cycling.
Keep The Party Going!
Exercise is important for all of us, including our toddlers. It improves strength, flexibility, endurance, energy, and can improve a child’s ability to be able to concentrate at school.
Plus, exercise is fun!
These 11 quick exercises to do with your toddler are a great way to introduce the concept of exercise and what it means to be physically active - all while having fun, bonding, and making memories.