Physical activity for toddlers

Activity and exercise at toddler age are vitally important for several reasons. With their little inquisitive brains developing rapidly and learning new things every day, they are busy bees. 

Providing activities that stimulate and get your toddler physically active is essential for them to reach their full potential and support their health and development. 

The recommendation for the minimum amount of time that toddlers should be physically active is at least 180 minutes (3 hours).

At pre-school age at least 60 minutes a day should be moderate to vigorous physical activity.

But, the more the better. Spreading activity out throughout the day can help with all that energy your little whirlwind might have.

  • A stronger immune system
  • Strengthening of the heart and cardiovascular system
  • Weight control
  • Better sleeping patterns
  • Reduction of stress and frustration
  • Improved health and well being
  • Increased large and small muscle coordination
  • Improved balance and control
  • Better behaviour
  • Increased motivation, concentration and creativity
  • A love of physical activity from an early age
  • Improved brain function

  • Rolling
  • Yoga
  • Playing
  • Walking 
  • Standing up to draw or paint

  • Dancing
  • Skipping
  • Running 
  • Riding a bike or scooter
  • Ball games
  • Playing chase
  • Climbing on outdoor apparatus 
  • Active play

There has been an increase in the amount of time that children spend on tablets, phones and computers.

We live in an evolving world where technology skills are in demand and with parental input, technology can be a mind expanding and educational activity. 

We recommend that parents and carers use technology alongside children and engage them in discussions about media use and set boundaries on their amount of screen time.

  • Bad posture - research has shown that long usage can lead to poor posture or unhealthy ways of sitting when playing on technology.
  • Reduction of physical activity - children and adults usually move less when using tablets, phones and computers. This can lead to obesity, diabetes and a reduction in cognitive development in children.
  • Poor or severely damaged emotional health - with children focusing on technology for too much of the day, they're missing out on gaining the basic social skills of life. There is limited social interaction and play with others which can then lead children into a world where they're unsure of how to interact and communicate with others.  
  • Too little sleep or difficulty in falling asleep - an overuse of technology can also affect the quality of sleep your child has which will impact on learning and behaviour. Technology can suppress the release of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, this is the hormone that we all need to fall to sleep. When melatonin is suppressed, this can make it more difficult to fall asleep. 

Play is an important part of a toddler’s development, it's through play that children learn to be social, and through role modelling they understand the structures of life and build on the science of language and understanding.  

Providing activities doesn't t always have to come at a cost or include equipment. Getting outdoors is a great way to encourage your toddler to be active and is a fun way to boost their imaginations.  All of which can also provide quality family time. 

  • A bear hunt
  • A stick family hunt
  • Collecting leaves to create a picture
  • Splashing in muddy puddles
  • Exploring new paths on an adventure

  • Cosmic Kids Yoga YouTube Channel for yoga, mindfulness, stories and relaxation
  • Balancing by drawing a line on the floor to walk along like a tightrope  
  • Stretch and sing songs with nursery rhymes like Hop Little Bunnies and Dingle Dangle Scarecrow. Having a sing and dance together releases happy hormones (endorphins) that help us all to feel good.
  • A scavenger hunt. Each day could be a new theme. Hide toy animals, teddys or pictures around the home for your toddler to find, to make it more challenging, use colours, shapes or numbers and help boost their learning.
  • Take a toddle on the wild side. Ask your child to walk like their favourite animals. They could hold their arm to the side of their nose as if they were an elephant, open and shut their arms in front of their face like a snapping crocodile or waddle like a penguin with their hands by their sides.
  • Disney shake up activities on NHS Change 4 Life 

The NHS change 4 life website has a wide range of accessible activities for a variety of disabilities. 

There are lots of ways to keep disabled children active – start off by choosing activities your child is interested in and adapt them.