Fitness and Your 2 to 3-Year-Old

22 Aug 2016


Kids this age are walking and running, kicking, and throwing. They're naturally active, so be sure to provide lots of chances for your child to practice and build on these skills.

How much is enough? Physical activity guidelines for toddlers recommend that each day they:
        •  get at least 30 minutes of structured (adult-led) physical activity
        •  get at least 60 minutes of unstructured (free play) physical activity
        •  not be inactive for more than 1 hour at a time except when sleeping

What Kids Can Do
It's important to understand what kids can do and what skills are appropriate for this age. By age 2, toddlers should be able to walk and run well. They might be able to kick a ball and jump in place with both feet. By age 3, toddlers usually can balance briefly on one foot, kick a ball forward, throw a ball overhand, catch a ball with stiff arms, and pedal a tricycle.

Keep these skills in mind when encouraging your child to be active. Play games together and provide age-appropriate active toys, such as balls, push and pull toys, and riding vehicles. Through practice, toddlers will continue to improve and refine their motor skills.

Family Fitness Tips
Kids who like to engage in active play now are likely to stay active and be physically fit in the future. Walking, playing, exploring your backyard, or using playground equipment at a local park can be fun for the entire family.

Also, these games provide fun and fitness for parents and toddlers:
        •  Walk like a penguin, hop like a frog, or imitate other animals' movements.
        •  Bend at the waist and touch the ground. Walk your hands forward and inch along like a caterpillar.
        •  Sit on the ground and let your child step over your legs, or make a bridge with your body and let your child crawl under.
        •  Play follow the leader and other similar games.
        •  Listen to music and dance together.

Come up with your own active ideas or follow your child's lead. Also, limit the amount of time your child spends watching TV (including DVDs and videos) or playing on a computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Mary L. Gavin. Fitness and Your 2 to 3-Year-Old. Kids Health Online. 2014; [cited 2014 Sep]; [1 screen]. Available at URL:

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