Fitness for Preschoolers - The Importance of Starting Early

March 20, 2017

Did you know the human brain uses 50% of its learning capacity in the first five years of life? This first stage of your child’s life is a crucial development period, where the basic foundation is laid for everything they will ever learn. It’s only logical to assume that this same principle applies to a person’s level of physical activity. If a child is allowed to be inactive when they are young, they will likely continue to be inactive as teenagers and adults. Thus, it’s important for both parents and educators to encourage early fitness for preschoolers.

The National Association of Sports and Physical Education recommends that preschoolers should get 60 minutes of structured (adult-led) play and 60 minutes of free play daily. In addition, they also recommend that toddlers shouldn’t be inactive more than an hour at a time, unless they’re sleeping.

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Fitness Benefits for Preschoolers

The benefits reaped from physical activity for adults are touted everywhere. From the doctor’s office to pop culture, everyone is extolling the importance of being healthy and active. It shouldn’t be surprising that these same benefits apply to children. Ensuring children have an early start with fitness gives them a leg up on the battle with childhood obesity, the rates of which have increased 21% since 2001.

In addition to the health benefits of fitness for preschoolers, physical activity provides an outlet for their energy. This helps to effectively reduce stress and calm anxiety, making toddlers happier and more attentive in the classroom. The ability to master certain physical skills also gives your little one extra motor control and will ultimately help them build confidence in their abilities.

Fitness for preschoolers also provides social benefits, both in school and at home. Playing together at school and during other recreational activities helps your little one develop relationships with their peers. It teaches them the importance of cooperation, sharing, and working together. Activities done with your toddler at home encourage parental involvement and bonding.

Activities You Can Do with Your Preschooler

Preschool-age children may be a bit too young to take up organized sports, as they’re still mastering motor control and basic functions (throwing, catching, kicking, etc). The more complex rules of organized team sports may go over their heads, which is why you’ll often see children running the wrong way in soccer. Too much of this may end up causing frustration or anxiety for your child.

There are some simple activities you can do with your child right in the comfort of your own backyard. If you have a group or a large family, “Duck, Duck, Goose” is always an entertaining game that’s sure to elicit laughter. Follow The Leader can incorporate running, jumping, and skipping to get the heart rate going. Games like Freeze Tag or pretending to be statues can even help your little one practice coordination and balance, all while keeping them active and entertained.

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Fitness for Preschoolers – Get Out and Play!

In the US, only 8% of elementary schools and 6% of middle and high schools provide daily physical education (PE) classes for everyone. In fact, 20% of elementary schools have abolished PE altogether. With childhood obesity on the rise, it’s more important now than ever to ensure that children get an early start in, and appreciation for, physical activity. Starting fitness for preschoolers early and sticking with it will help your toddler have a healthy and happy life.

At Home Away From Home Academy, we take fitness very seriously. We believe it’s important for children to not only exercise their bodies but also their minds. Therefore, our physical education program encourages children to use their minds and bodies as one.

Our program focuses on physical activity while also incorporating other important aspects to fitness for preschoolers, like proper nutrition and good hygiene. In addition, we offer a Fit Kids after school program, where children from Pre-K to Second Grade can enjoy additional physical education and entertainment! To learn more about your child’s exposure to fitness at HAFHA, feel free to contact us today!

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