Baby Exercise: Starting Healthy Habits at a Young Age
New exercise guidelines came out this week from the U.K. health department that recommends infants and toddlers ages 1 to 5 should be getting regular, daily physical activity. How much, you ask? They are saying three hours every day.
I thought this was a very interesting topic and I read more because I wanted to make sure my daughter was compliant, so to speak. The activity recommendations are:
For infants and toddlers not walking yet:
- Tummy time (time spent playing on stomach)
- Reaching for objects
- Pulling, pushing, and playing with other adults
- Baby-Parent swim sessions
These guidelines seem pretty standard to me in terms of what a pediatrician would recommend. The suggestions above helps develop motor skills and muscles necessary for larger movements.
For kids who can walk:
- Limit sitting and sedentary time as much as possible (minus sleeping time)
- Floor and water based activities
For children who are walking, I think there are a lot more opportunities to incorporate physical activity. Things to keep in mind for children playing:
- Consider special activities for special needs children
- Make sure environment is safe
- Always make sure the child is supervised
One guideline also mentioned is that for children ages 2 to 5 should only have 1 hour of computer or TV time. Children under 2 should have no TV time at all.
Children and Adolescents
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently recommends 1 hour of physical activity/play for children and adolescents. There are not any guidelines currently in the U.S. for young children.
At first, I thought 3 hours daily is a little extreme for infants, but looking at the statistic that 1 in 7 preschool age children in the low-income range are obese, it may not seem so extreme after all. We all know that the sooner a habit is developed, the more likely it will stick. At best, the child will ultimately enjoy physical activity instead of watching TV, because that is what they know.
Currently in the United States, 2 out of 3 adults are either overweight (Body Mass Index 25-29) or obese (Body Mass Index 30 or greater) as well. It may be time to start incorporating physical activity as a family unit. This strengthens the family bond and burns some calories as well.
Ready, Set, Play
Obviously there are only certain activities you can help your baby with because of muscle and coordination limitations. The bigger they get, the more they will be able to do once they move on their own with ease.
Here are some other blogs I wrote this summer that encourage family activity time, with ideas to boot.
- Exercising with Your Children: Healthy Habits to Last a Lifetime
- How You Can Burn Calories in 15 Short Minutes
- Switch Up Your Routine with These Fun Summer Activities
- How to Keep Your Kids Entertained Over Summer Break
What are your favorite physical activities to do with your child of any age?
Photo credit: Chris and Kris