Physical Exercise For Toddlers: Why It’s Important To Get Them Active

Whether you’re unsure if your child is moving their body enough or you’re stuck on exercise ideas, we’re here to help.

Physical exercise for toddlers is extremely important and can include both unstructured active play and organised activities. Regular and varied movement promotes the development of a child’s motor, cognitive and social skills, as well as the growth of their bones and muscles. 

You should cultivate an environment that encourages your child to move their body in a variety of ways such as stretching, walking, crawling, rolling etc.

By introducing your child to a good exercise routine from a young age, you will help them to establish good fitness habits for the future. Use this as an opportunity to nurture their attitude and aptitude for physical activity.

We have outlined a selection of physical exercise ideas for toddlers and explored why this is important in early childhood.


How Much Exercise Does a Toddler Need?

Toddlers should be very active throughout the day to maintain a healthy mind and body. They should be getting at least 3 hours of physical activity per day, however, you should aim to keep them as active as possible. Keeping your child moving is crucial to the development of their body and the stimulation of their mind.

Be sure to include both active and high energy exercise into your child’s routine. Active activities include things such as rolling around, standing up and playing, whereas high energy activities include running, jumping and climbing.

Physical exercise for toddler as he walks on a branch


Benefits of Physical Exercise For Toddlers

There are a lot of benefits to be gained from adding regular physical exercise into your child’s routine. A mix of light and energetic activities will help them to reach the key development milestones for toddlers including :

  • Physical growth 

Movement increases the blood flow to a child’s muscles and strengthens their bones, making them stronger.

  • Gross motor skills 

Exercise such as crawling, running, jumping, climbing and throwing a ball will help to develop their larger muscle groups to improve balance.

  • Fine motor skills

Activities such as playing with building blocks help to develop their smaller muscle groups to support improved hand-eye coordination.

  • Cognitive development

Copying dance moves or other activities that require focus and concentration can improve their attention span and memory.

Physical exercise for toddler as he kicks a football


Exercise for Toddlers Indoors

There are a number of ways to keep your child active indoors, which is particularly useful if you don’t have access to a garden. Whether you have a big or small space, you’ll be sure to find an idea that works for you below. 

  • Hula hooping

You can purchase a hula hoop from a number of retailers. Demonstrate to your child how to use the hoop and let them give it a go. There are lots of tutorials to help guide you if you’re not familiar with hula hooping.

Physical exercise for toddlers playing with hoola hoop

  • Jumping

A more energetic exercise that will get your child’s heart rate up. Get your child to try jumping on the spot or jumping jacks. Jumping in puddles on a rainy day can also be a lot of fun.

  • Indoor obstacle course

Try activities such as crawling through a play tunnel or cardboard box, climbing over a pillow or bean bag, or jumping from one designated spot to another. Think about the space that you have available to ensure that the obstacle course can be carried out safely. 

  • Dance party

Put together a playlist of upbeat, child-friendly songs, clear some space and get groovy. Let your child have the freedom to make up their own dance moves to ignite their creativity and improvisation.

You could also show them some moves and have them repeat them back to stimulate their memory, concentration and coordination.

  • Stretching

Keep this simple with some easy moves. They could try reaching for the sky, touching their toes or giving themselves a big hug. Yoga is also a fantastic exercise for young children with lots of great benefits. Your toddler can take part in child-friendly yoga classes during their nursery day here at Little Angels.

This is a wonderful opportunity to increase your child’s coordination, self-awareness, confidence and self-esteem while they stretch and strengthen their bodies. Introducing your child to yoga can help them learn to relax and concentrate in a fun environment. Learn more about yoga for children here.

Parent and child stretching for physical exercise


Exercise for Toddlers Outdoors

Heading outdoors for some physical exercise will ensure that your child is also getting plenty of fresh air and will encourage them to explore the world around them.

Here are some fun outdoor physical exercise activities for toddlers.

  • Walking

Get your child moving by taking them out for a nice walk. You can make this activity even more fun by feeding the ducks during your walk or playing a spotting game, for example, get them to point out any cats that they spot along the way.

  • Running

This does not need to be anything too strenuous, instead, this could be turned into a game. You could pretend to be a tickle monster and chase your child around while they try to escape being caught. At Little Angels, we ensure that your child gets to run around and play outside on a daily basis.

  • Ball games

If your child can kick, throw and/or catch, you could get them to do this with some ball game activities. 

  • Bubble popping

Buy a mix or create your own and blow bubbles for your child to chase after and pop. If they’re able to, you could take it in turns to blow the bubbles and try to catch them.

Toddler running to pop bubbles

  • Scavenger hunt

Set up a fun scavenger hunt in your back garden and get your child to find the treasure. Hide toys such as stuffed animals and other child-friendly objects in easy to find places.


Active Experiences in Childcare with Little Angels

Ensuring that the children at Little Angels are taking part in a regular and varied amount of exercise is extremely important to us.

To give our children the very best active experiences, we work with the Stretch-n-Grow Exercise Programme, the world’s leading health and fitness programme for children.Download a brochure to learn more about Little Angels, or feel free to contact us.

Ready to experience what we have to offer at Little Angels? Book a space at our 2022 Open Day here.