Anyone who has spent more than 20 minutes around a toddler can attest that attempting to keep up with their level of energy is a tough and tiresome task. Sometimes it can feel like someone has released the Energizer Bunny (is that still a thing?) into your home after a full charge - they just keep going and going and going...
So naturally, many parents and guardians can become misled into thinking that their child is getting more than enough physical activity every day. However, just because watching them jump from couch to couch and run up and down the hallways tires us out, does not mean that they’re hitting those daily recommendations for a healthy, physical lifestyle.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children between the ages of 2 and 5 should participate in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity each day, comprised of aerobic activity, muscle strengthening, and bone strengthening movements.
But what exactly does moderate and vigorous activity mean, and what kinds of activities can we do with our toddlers to keep them healthy and moving?
According to the CDC, if we ranked our children’s activity levels on a scale of 1 to 10 - 0 being completely sedentary and 10 being the highest levels of activity - a moderate-intensity activity would fall between 5 and 6. This can result in an increased heartbeat and breathing pattern from your toddler. Vigorous-intensity activities push the scale to a 7 or 8, which can result in a much faster heartbeat, increases in breathing, and typically sweating. Think about it as taking a walk around your neighborhood versus running laps around it.
If you need some suggestions, here are some examples of activities that can help keep your child moving and healthy:
Taking walks around your neighborhood as a family. This is also a great time to introduce your child to outdoor safety tips, as well as exploring their surroundings.
Active play at your local park with friends and family.
Gymnastics and jumping rope promote muscle and bone strengthening in your child.
Bike rides help promote aerobic capacity building, as well as teaching your child about bicycle safety.
Hiking is a great option for a family friendly outing, and will allow your child to explore the wilderness instead of just seeing it on TV.