Benefits of Physical Activity for Toddlers

Benefits of Physical Activity for Toddlers


mom catchng toddler at bottom of slide



Regular physical activity can help your toddler stay at a healthy weight while playing, having fun, and developing physically, socially and emotionally. Physically active toddlers are happier and healthier, too.

Compared to inactive children, active toddlers have:

  • Better overall health
  • More energy
  • Improved fitness
  • Stronger muscles and bones
  • Better posture
  • Improved self-esteem
  • Less stress

Your toddler needs at least 180 minutes of physical activity at any intensity spread throughout the day to help build strong bones, muscles, heart and lungs. You can help by being active yourself for at least 150 minutes every week. Try a variety of activities and make them fun by, for example, joining other children and families. 

Unless your toddler's sleeping, he shouldn't be sitting still for more than 60 minutes at a time. Notice how much time your toddler spends sitting or lying down and look for ways to encourage physical activity. Here are some great tips for nurturing your toddler’s natural need to move, play, run, jump, climb, and explore:

  • Be active with your toddler. Go outside. Throw a ball, chase bubbles, play tag, investigate your surroundings.
  • Turn off the TV and other interactive media and get your toddler moving. Limit the time she spends in front of the TV to one hour or less per day - or better yet, none at all.
  • Go to a park and teach your toddler to use the slides, swings and climbing equipment.
  • Teach your toddler fundamental movement skills (throwing and catching a ball and jumping).
  • Include your toddler in daily tasks that are physically active (walking to the store, cleaning the house, washing the car, gardening).
  • Whenever possible, get your toddler out of the stroller and walking with you. Your toddler is not active while in the stroller.
  • Check with your local recreation centre or public health office about activities your toddler might be able to join (swimming, gymnastics, dance, etc.)

Avoiding Childhood Obesity

Encouraging children to be physically active will help maintain a healthy body weight. Being overweight or obese is a serious health concern for both adults and children, but it is especially serious in children.

Get Moving

For more physical activity suggestions, see Leap BC's guide Move with Me from Birth to Three.

Last Updated: August 9, 2013