Our modern lives are lived mostly indoors. As such, today’s children do not get the same opportunities for physical activity that they did in generations past. This means parents need to create opportunities for their children to get the physical activity they need.
How much physical activity does my pre-schooler need?
The American Heart Association and The National Association for Sports and Physical Education (NASPE) both recommend that toddlers get at least 30 minutes of structured physical activity (e.g. gym, dance or movement classes) each day, and that pre-schoolers get at least 60.
In addition, all children should get between 60 minutes and several hours per day of unstructured activity, which is self-directed by the child. Toddlers and pre-schoolers shouldn’t be inactive (except while sleeping) for more than 60 minutes at a time.
Why do pre-schoolers need so much physical activity?
According to the World Health Organisation, regular exercise builds endurance and muscle strength, improves bone health, lowers risk factors for serious health problems like heart disease, colon cancer and diabetes in later life, keeps blood pressure within normal levels, and just as importantly, fosters self-esteem.
In addition to the critical health benefits of physical fitness, there are also cognitive benefits. Physical health is linked to brain fitness. The pre-school years are critical for brain development, and a child’s physical health and activity impacts on this development.
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