Your child should be getting an hour of moderate physical activity every day. As our lives continue to get more digital, this can be a difficult recommendation for some kids to meet. But encouraging and incorporating physical activity into your children’s lives is very important. Here are a few activities for every age group to consider for your kiddo.
6 months–2 years
- Walking: Even before your child is taking their first steps, you can introduce walking into your schedule to encourage and normalize regular movement. Take your kiddo for a walk a couple times a week while they’re a baby, and encourage them to walk on their own once they have the ability to do so.
2–4 year olds
- Running: As your child transitions from toddlerhood to childhood, this is when their bodies are constantly working on motor control. Encouraging running activities on a playground, at a park, or in your backyard helps improve their motor skills, strengthen their bones, and get their little hearts pumping!
- Ball Sports: It’s unlikely that your 3 year old is going to be very good at any sport they try, but this is a great age range to introduce ball sports. Ball sports — whether it’s a hand ball like basketball or baseball, or a ball for kicking like soccer — are a great way for your child to improve their motor coordination in new ways while having fun. Take a ball to a local park and practice throwing and catching, kicking, or dribbling.
4–8 year olds
- Swimming: Swimming is a low-impact, high-entertainment activity for every child to learn if they have access to a pool and qualified instructors. It’s also a life-saving skill that they can carry throughout their lives!
- Team Sports: If you have kids sports teams in your local area, this is a good age range to get them started. Remember to go in with accurate expectations of what your child is capable of. A group of 7 year olds aren’t going to be pro athletes yet, but they can learn about sharing and teamwork while having a good time.
8–12 year olds
- Family Fitness: In this age range, your kids may begin to transition away from the regular physical activity they got through recess, playing on a playground, or playing actively with friends. While this isn’t true of every kiddo (many kids in this age range play on sports teams, still play actively with friends, etc.), as kids get closer to their pre-teen years there are less opportunities during school and social time for regular physical activity. A great way to combat this problem is with regular family fitness! By making physical activity part of your family’s lifestyle, you can all benefit.
13+ years of age
Teenagers can have a wide variety of fitness levels. Many teens exercise or play sports on school teams, at their local rec center, or with friends. Other teens may not enjoy organized sports and may have a harder time meeting the recommended hour a day of physical activity. Adolescence is an important time to establish healthy perceptions and habits around physical fitness. Any of the activities listed above can be a good fit for a teenager in need of a new way of exercising. The best options will be the ones that they choose for themselves or show an interest in. Just like adults, if kids are forced or cajoled into an exercise that they don’t enjoy, it likely won’t last long.
Take a look at our blog for other kid-focused fitness tips, advice, and recommendations.