Preparing your preschooler for a foundation of healthy learning!
Fun Ways to Exercise
Importance of Physical Activity
Regular physical activity is important for preschoolers. Physical activity helps normal growth and development, helps maintain caloric balance, and stimulates neurological/brain development.
Any movement that uses energy and increases the heart rate can be considered physical activity. Some examples include walking, running, dancing, skipping, jumping, climbing, and swinging.
Engaging in physical activity has many benefits. Physical activity:
§ Improves strength and endurance
§ Builds healthy bones and muscles
§ Develops motor skills and coordination
§ Helps reduce stress and depression
§ Promotes well-being
§ Improves social skills
Amount of Physical Activity
Early childhood is a time to begin teaching the foundation of a healthy, physically active lifestyle. It is easier for children to develop healthy habits early in life than it is for them to break unhealthy habits once they are formed.
Recent studies show that young children are not getting enough active physical play at preschool. Do you know how much physical activity a preschooler should get? The National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) recommends the following daily accumulation of physical activity minutes for preschoolers:
§ At least 60 minutes of “structured” physical activity every day
§ At least 60 minutes of “unstructured” physical activity every day
§ No more than one hour at a time of inactivity, unless they are sleeping
These recommendations are for an entire 24-hour day, which means that the preschool program cannot provide the total recommended number of minutes for physical activity. However, active physical play can and should be integrated into the preschool curriculum throughout the day. According to the , full-day programs should have regularly scheduled physical activity time daily, both in the morning and in the afternoon for a total of 60 minutes. Half-day programs should schedule at least 30 minutes of active physical play.
Remember that children develop at different rates and should be allowed to meet these recommendations at their own pace. As preschoolers develop, they are able to manage increasing amounts of moderate to vigorous physical activity. For those children who are initially sedentary, teachers can play an important role in helping children become more active.