Getting Your Toddler to Exercise Outdoors

Getting Your Toddler to Exercise Outdoors

Getting your toddler to exercise outdoors is like getting a bird to fly — it’s so natural that many kids wouldn’t even dream of not doing it. Consider, for example, the following outdoor games that kids are motivated to play (and note that they all qualify as “exercise” because they build stronger, leaner bodies):

  • Play soccer, waffle ball and kickball


  • Tree climbing, monkey bars, jungle gyms


  • Jump rope


  • play hopscotch


  • Riding a tricycle


  • Take adventure walks in the woods (also known as hiking and snowshoeing)

However, a child who is used to spending most of the day watching TV may think that the outdoors is a foreign country, where you do not dare to venture. It’s up to you to change that mindset, and show your child how much more fun it is to play than watch Nickelodeon.

Take your kids with you when they play sports
If you take your toddler with you while exercising, you may feel as though your exercise will suffer, but if you leave him at home, you are missing out on a huge opportunity to make him a lifelong fitness addict. What is the right parent to do?
Bring it with you. Although you may decide to complete additional exercise on your own a few days a week, you can “workout” with your toddler while still sticking to your exercise goals. You just have to change the way you think about what is known as ‘exercise’. If you’re a runner, how about playing 20 minutes off the mark, instead, in which you do most of your runs and do long loops around your yard? If you love to walk, how about alternating ten minutes of walking your child in the stroller with five minutes of walking side-by-side with your child, and repeating that three or four times? If you normally exercise, how about putting on dance music and cutting the rug with your child?

With kids, focus on fun exercises
Your job, if you choose to accept it, is to help your child identify how he defines “fun,” and move forward accordingly. Don’t get too caught up in exercise as you might limit it – no child needs to exercise on an elliptical or a treadmill. But jumping, walking, dancing, playing pool games, doing gymnastics, playing soccer, and doing a host of other activities keep kids moving.

When it feels like exercise, smells like exercise, and tastes like exercise, it’s probably exercise. You will not deceive your child by doing an activity that is inherently boring – for example, running on a treadmill or swimming – and regrouping by calling it a game. The goal is to play a game (football, for example, or sharks and fish) with your child and let go of adult ideas about exercise. You may enjoy brisk walking, but your child probably won’t; Alternatively, you can build strength and become more active by playing duck, duck and geese with you and the neighborhood kids.
Focus on the fun, and you and your child will get great exercise in the process. Don’t worry about style or speed; Instead, keep moving and have fun. If your child gets tired after 10 or 15 minutes, that’s okay; You and your child may be able to have three 15-minute stress-free play sessions each day, which is an impressive amount of exercise for both of you.