Do Your Toddlers Get Enough Exercise?

Cynthia Dermody

toddlers playing under table

Photo by laura7485

I've been struggling -- especially over the loooong holiday break -- with ways to give my kids a daily dose of physical exercise when the weather is too bad to go out. I need some free options, since I can't afford to keep going to the indoor play gym, and a Wii Fit is not in our budget right now.

You know as well as I that it's not good when toddlers have pent up energy. In my house, the result is usually destruction. I've also found that cooped up toddlers don't go to bed as early at night. And when this mom has to push back bedtime, I'm the one who gets cranky!

So aebaby kindly sent me two great ideas for indoor games to get my kids moving. I could kick myself for not thinking of these sooner.

Have an indoor snowball fight. Make a game out of wadding up lots of paper balls. Put a line of painter's tape down the middle of the room, ask each child to stay on their own side, and then throw away! When you're all done, shoot baskets into the garbage with the "snowballs" to clean up.

Have an indoor treasure hunt. Get some plastic jewels or plastic coins (at the craft store or party store respectively for about $3.99/bag; you could also use spoons and say they are silver or make the coins out of paper with the kids) and then hide them around the house. Draw treasure maps of the house, and then send the kids scavaging.

In case you were wondering, the National Association for Sport and Physical Education has set these exercise guidelines for healthy toddlers:

  • Toddlers should get at least 30 minutes of daily structured physical activity (organized sports, a game of hide and seek, a walk down the block);
  • Toddlers should get at least an hour and up to several hours of daily, unstructured physical activity (meaning they are amusing themselves, and mom is not directing or organizing the activity);
  • Toddlers should not be still or sedentary (such as in front of the TV or playing a video game) for more than 60 minutes at a time, except when sleeping.

++Are your kids getting enough exercise this winter? What energy-burning inside games do you play with your kids?

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