“Let’s go for a walk around the block,” I suggested to my two-year-old today. He eagerly ran to the front door to put his shoes and hat on, and off we went for a 40-minute stroll up and down our neighborhood. As simple as a walk may be, I rely on these and other similar activities to make sure my little guy gets a bit of movement every day.
In general, we don’t need to push our kids to be active too often: leave them to their own devices and they’ll more often than not find their own inventive ways to keep their bodies moving. Sometimes though, there are times when the entire day seems to have flown by and all we’ve done is sit around the house feeling sluggish without having moved all that much.
With summer making its grand entrance pretty soon, I came up with a list of ideas on how to keep my toddler active should I find myself sitting on the couch wondering what on earth to do and wnted to share it with you:
- Walk around the neighborhood
- Visit a local campus
- Head over to the mall (my kiddo loves an outdoor one with fountains)
- Explore a children’s museum
- Act like a tourist and visit the hot spots in your area
- Take a hike (preferably an easy hike or one that you can leave easily should your toddler tire out quickly)
- Run around at the park
- Climb on a playground
- Walk along a nature trail
- Walk or run on a track
- Rough house indoors
- Play hide and seek
- Play chase
- Play catch
- Play soccer and kick a ball around
- Fly a kite (your kid will likely love chasing after the kite as it takes a nose dive to the ground like mine tend to do)
- Go swimming
- Walk along the beach
- Turn up the music and dance
- Do “gymnastics” in the house (e.g. leg kicks, tumbles)
Above all, I try to instill the habit of finding joy in being active. Up until I was about 10 years old, I had a pretty active childhood: I played in the backyard, I romped around with my cousins and rode my bicycle nearly every day. However, we moved to a new area quite different from what I was used to, and suddenly the active fun faded away in lieu of TV watching, junk-food eating and not nearly enough opportunities to be outdoors and play. It wasn’t until high school when I joined the dance team that I was able to regularly fit some exercise in on a near-daily basis.
As an adult, I appreciate exercise, even if it’s just to walk and get my muscles going and heart pumping. I’m nowhere near our girl Erika who can run everyday if she could, but I still want my toddler to enjoy the benefits of exercise while keeping the activities fun instead of a workout to be dreaded.
Perhaps the best way for a toddler to appreciate an active life is to set a healthy example. For some, that may be the sheer joy and pride in finishing a marathon. For myself, it could be relishing a nice walk out in the park. For others, playing a game of chase or soccer could be the pleasure kids will need to determine that being active is not only good for you, but can be enjoyable as well.
How do you keep your kids active? What physical activities do you and your kids enjoy?