Thursday, March 13, 2014

Kiddie Calisthenics

A new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a 43 percent drop in obesity rates among children aged 2 to 5 during the past decade.  Researchers found that a little more than 8 percent of children aged 2 to 5 were obese in 2011-2012, down from nearly 14 percent in 2003-2004.  This is an encouraging sign that families are trying to eat healthier and keep their young children active.  Learning the value of a healthy, active lifestyle from a very young age will teach children good nutritional habits, the importance of exercise and that fitness can be fun.
How can parents and toddlers remain physically fit together?  Make physical activities and games FUN for the whole family! The key to successful participation is creativity and positive reinforcement as well as scheduling a regular time during the week as “family playtime.”

Try incorporating these games into your toddler’s playtime to ensure that he/she grows up understanding that fitness is fun:

·    Silly Shakes – Just like the Raffi song says, “Shake your sillies out!”  If you do it long enough, you'll not only end up getting a great workout, you and your child will share some laughs.

·    Balloon Ball – Play a game of volleyball using a balloon.  Tie a piece of string between two chairs and use your hands to hit the balloon into your opponent’s territory.  Or, play tennis by using old pantyhose wrapped around a bent coat hanger to create a racket.  Playing balloon ball teaches and reinforces hand-eye coordination while burning calories.  (Although, be mindful when toddlers play with balloons.  Non-mylar balloons can become choking hazards when popped.)

·    Play Tag – Enough said.

·    Dance – Toddlers love music and dancing.  Create your own dance party.  Raid your closets to dress up and recreate your favorite music videos.  Film them and, if you dare, load them onto YouTube to send to your extended family.

·     Pushover Pop – I read about this idea on  Plant your feet (or stand on one foot) and see if your child(ren) can budge you. If you move your feet, he/she wins.

·    Bowling – Create your own bowling alley in the hallway.  Use empty milk cartons or juice boxes as bowling pins and use a ball from the toy box as the bowling ball.  This will help your child learn depth perception and how to aim.

·    Toddler Stairmaster – Need a use for those diaper boxes?  Create a “stairmaster” that your child will love.  Stack diaper boxes into a pyramid and help your child climb up and down the “ramps.”

·    Go to the Playground – Playing on the swing set or crossing the monkey bars is a great workout – for you and your child!

·    Act Like an Animal - Walk like a penguin, hop like a frog or imitate other animals' movements while making sounds like that animal.  Use this exercise as a teachable moment to help your child recognize animal sounds and get ready to head to school.

·    Play Catch – Include your whole family in the fun!  Play catch – or fetch – with your dogs.  Run around your house or backyard chasing and playing with your pets.

Children who are active as toddlers tend to stay active throughout their lives.  Staying fit can help maintain a healthy weight, improve self-confidence and decrease the risk of certain diseases, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease. 
So, play with your toddlers!  Your child will have fun and so will you!

Are you looking for a fun, fitness program for your child aged 3-5?  Fitness for Health now offers “B” Social Preschool Motor Group!  This 6-week session – beginning on Thursday, March 27 - will integrate social cognitive thinking with motor activities in small groups comprised of 6 - 8 children. Concepts will be introduced in fun and motivating ways encouraging participants to explore and improve their social thinking and motor skills. And, this class will be implemented by a team of professionals - a collaboration with Early Intervention Therapists (Speech & Language Pathologists) and Fitness for Health staff.  Visit to learn more.

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