It’s never too soon to start fostering a love of exercise in your little one. " The goal is to do something active with your child every day," says Reyna Franco, a New York City-based certified personal trainer and registered dietician who works with many families. That’s good for both of you.
What to do:
- Ban the E Word.
There’s no need to stress exercise with your child. "At this age, it's really all about play," says Franco. "Climbing the jungle gym, playing tag, and just running around are all things that kids love to do. That’s how they learn that it’s really fun to move their bodies.”
- Get outside as much as possible.
Studies show that the more time children spend outdoors, the more likely they are to be physically active. "Go to the park or the local playground, or even your own backyard and just explore," says Franco. Don’t let cold or wet weather keep you from heading out; to a toddler, stomping around in rain puddles (wearing sturdy waterproof boots, of course) is just about the best activity on earth.
- Put ’em to work.
Little indoor chores are an easy way to make physical activity fun for kids (and as a bonus, get a cleaner house)! For example, when it’s time to tidy up and put things back where they belong, have your little helper be the "delivery guy." Invest in a few child-size tools such as a rake and a shovel, so the kids can work alongside you outside, too.
- Get in on the act.
Take long walks with your child in the stroller (and give her plenty of opportunities to get out and move), go for hikes on local nature trails, or sign up for a parent-child swim class at the Y. Says Franco, "If you show your child that exercise is a part of your life and that you're having fun while you do it, your child will want to do it, too.”