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Our Blog: April 9, 2014

Spring into Fitness with the Little Ones

In efforts to boost family heath and fitness, The National Association of Young Children (NAEYC) is sponsoring the annual Week of The Young Child from April 6-12 with events around the world. Last year alone, supporters like you added more than 250 global events to focus public attention on the needs for early childhood programs.

In my family, we’ve set a goal for everyone to be outside together much more. Children need a good, solid hour of physical activity every single day, which packs the healthy punch of improving their sleep, mood, behavior, learning, and immune system. Worth the effort, huh? Here are some ideas for how your family can spend more time running around outside:

  • Just Get Out There. There are lots of excuses to keep you indoors, but simply setting foot outside helps sweep those excuses away. Aim to simply get outside – the rest will follow more easily.
  • Have Simple Outdoor Toys by the Door. Soft flying disks, jump ropes, chalk for hopscotch, and hula hoops are inexpensive toys that are easy for everyone in the family to store, carry, and use. Multi-purpose those toys to use as markers for running races or obstacle courses. Add some bubbles and shovels in an outdoor bag and leave it by the door. You’ll be ready for outside play any time!
  • Tend a Garden. Whether it’s an apartment balcony or an acre in the country, everyone can tend a garden. Digging in the dirt, carrying watering cans, and covering compost heaps are all great ways to get some exercise. Plus, the kids will want to munch on what they’ve grown, too. Healthier eating is a great side effect of gardening.
  • Weather or Not! Don’t let a little weather stop you. Stock your outdoor bag with season-specific gear such as raincoats, bug repellant, hats, or sunscreen. Show the kids that weather can make the outdoors a fun adventure! Jumping in puddles is great cardio, too.
  • Bring the Playground Inside. Some days are just too hot, cold, or stormy to safely be outdoors. On those days, push the furniture out of the way and do long-jump contests, measure everyone’s highest high-five, and see how many times you can all jump on one leg. Throw some pillows around for safety, and you’re good to go.

Want more ideas? NAEYC has some great ones here. How will your family get (and stay) outside this month?

About the Author

Dr. Heather Wittenberg

Dr. Wittenberg is a psychologist specializing in the development of babies, toddlers, preschoolers — and parents. She offers no-hype, practical parenting advice on her blog BabyShrink — rooted in science, and road tested in her own home as the mother of four young children. She has helped thousands of parents over the years and knows that the most common problems with young children — sleep, feeding, potty training and behavior — can be the most difficult ones to solve.