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Exercise and physical movement should be a part of your child’s everyday life. From health and motor development to emotional well-being, the benefits of exercise are endless.

We all know that kids are full of energy - and that's the way they should be! Physical activity for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers plays an important role in their physical and mental growth. It builds muscle and bone strength, helps prevent obesity, increases self-esteem and learning capabilities, and helps kids handle stress better.

So get your kids moving! Make it a priority for your child to have a total of at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day.

Exercise at the various stages of a child’s life can look very different. For a baby, it will depend on you engaging them in movement like clapping their hands or making bicycle motions with their legs. Once your child starts walking, you will want to provide them with safe spaces to explore and run.

Finding Time

Finding time every day for your child's physical activity can seem hard. But remember — the recommended 60 or more minutes of physical activity  your child needs every day doesn't have to be all at once. It's the total amount of time that counts, so add it up! Plus, physical activity for kids under five years of age involves more than running and jumping. It can be simple:

Mother and son wearing yellow doing yoga

Be an Active Family

Physical activity is a great way to get the whole family moving. When kids are supported and encouraged by their parents, siblings, and grandparents, they gain confidence in their running, jumping, biking, and playing abilities. When physical activity is fun for everyone, no one will want to be left out!

Mother and son stretching

Ways to Be Active Together

  • Organize a family park day, swim day, or bike day.

  • Make an obstacle course together out of pillows, couch cushions, and blankets for your toddler to climb.

  • Plant a vegetable garden and let the kids help water it, pull weeds, and pick the fresh veggies.

  • Take a family walk around the neighborhood after a meal.

  • Play a game of tag, follow the leader, or “Simon Says.”

  • If your family has a dog, ask your child to help you walk it every day.

Mother doing stretches with son

Before You Head Outside to Play…

  • For kids older than six months, apply sunscreen about 30 minutes before they go outside, and dress them in a hat and sunglasses. Bring a wide umbrella or a pop-up tent for longer outside activities. Infants under six months should always be in shaded areas.

  • When playing outdoors, bring enough water to keep everyone over six months old hydrated. Babies under six months will get the hydration they need through breastmilk or formula. For everyone else, water is the best thirst quencher any time, anywhere, and especially after physical activity.

  • Boost energy by planning nutritious snacks ahead of time like fresh strawberries, low-fat cheese sticks, unsweetened dried fruit, or a boiled egg. Toddlers and preschoolers need to eat multiple healthy snacks a day – and these snack times are just as important nutritionally as a meal.

QUICK TIP: Exercise is a great way to encourage and practice gross motor skills!

First 5 California
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First 5 California
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