Fit Family: Being Active Together

Dad dancing with Daughter

Physical activity should be included in the daily lives of children, and parents should serve as active role models. Research indicates that multiple benefits of mental and overall physical health occur from being active (Moore, 2008).  A simple way to incorporate physical activity in our daily routine is to plan activities that include the entire family. Current recommendations state that toddlers (0-3 years of age) should engage in a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise a day, and children and adolescents should engage in at least 60 minutes of exercise daily (Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2018). Some activities are listed below.  Remember, sometimes, let your children come up with activities, and, sometimes, plan your activities together. Allowing your children to organize the activity supports their independence and individuality, and planning together allows your children to know you care about what they say and helps develop decision-making and responsibility skills.

Infant/toddler Activities could include the following:

  • Pull the string – Set the toy just out of reach, and encourage the child to pull a string to grasp the toy.
  • Make your own instruments – Use pots and pans as drums and pound on them with hands or wooden or plastic spoons to improve your child’s large and small motor coordination skills
  • Rattle shaking – Allow the infant to explore and play with a rattle. If it is easy to shake, put a sock over it to teach the baby hand-eye coordination.
  • Remix of Old Macdonald – Sing Old Macdonald using the baby’s name as Old Macdonald and body parts as the animals.
  • Play ball – Sit on the floor with your infant and roll a ball or multiple balls (i.e., how many balls depends on the child’s age and developmental stage) to him or her to encourage body movement and muscle control.
  • Busy board – Build a board full of objects that generate the use of sensory skills, such as attaching Velcro, sandpaper, or silk

Family Inclusive Activities could include the following:

  • Bicycling
  • Playing Tag
  • Swimming
  • Swinging
  • Hiking
  • Sledding
  • Walking
  • Cooking
  • Collecting leaves
  • Going to the park or zoo
  • Bowling
  • Dancing at home
  • Playing on a Jungle gym
  • Making an obstacle course
  • Playing Simon says

References

Moore, M., & Russ, S. W. (2008). Follow-up of a pretend play intervention: Effects on play, creativity, and emotional processes in children. Creativity Research Journal, 20(4), 427-436.

Office of Disease Prevention & Health Promotion, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2008). 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Retrieved from http:// www.health.gov/paguidelines/ guidelines/default.aspx

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