Do you do cardio with your toddler? I know... chasing little ones around and keeping them out of trouble can be a workout in and of itself some days. Still, just as we read with our children to promote literacy, we should exercise with them to promote physical health. Here are some ideas to promote fitness with your toddler that will help with strength and new skills. As a bonus, they'll help you stay in shape, too!
1. Wheel Barrel
Circle of Moms member Joslin B. suggests getting your kids upside down for a fun game of wheel barrel: "Playing "wheel barrel" (where you lift up [your child's] feet and push him along as he walks on his hands) helps to improve fine motor skills because it stretches the tendons in the hand used for fine motor skills." You might find that it works some muscles you haven't used in a while, too!
2. Hop Scotch
Hop-scotch is a blast for kids, and is especially good for developing gross motor (large muscle) skills. So break out the sidewalk chalk... or some masking tape if you are stuck indoors. If your 1-2 year old isn't quite ready for full-blown hop-scotch, Rebekah H. suggests having him just hop on one foot. On the other hand, if you have a 2-3 year-old who is learning numbers and letters, Betty D. suggests hop scotch math: "just write numbers in the squares and have them hop on the correct square."
Dancing is a great workout at any age, and it can be hilarious to watch your toddler master some moves! As Uyanda G. says of her 2-year-old, "He loves dancing with me, I show him some dance moves and he has become a good dancer...lol, in the process." Mehreen A. has a 21-month-old daughter who loves dances she can learn and repeat, such as the Hokey Pokey and Ring Around The Rosey.
4. Red Light, Green Light
Red Light, Green Light is another tried-and-true game that gets your toddler moving and also teaches important skills. Terri G. was surprised how quickly her son took to this game: "You will be amazed at how fast they catch on, and the game becomes contagious in parks/playgrounds, all of the children love it." Amy D. finds the game to be useful in other situations as needed: "...if he's running away from me but I want him to stop, I just yell, 'RED LIGHT!' and he thinks it a game and stops!"
5. Mommy & Me Groups
There are many groups and gyms you can join to enhance playtime with your toddler. The Little Gym is a national chain of children's gyms that offer classes for parents and toddlers. Your area might also have a Gymboree, which offers similar classes and activities. If you have trouble finding kids' gyms in your area, Laura A. suggests looking to your local library: "My son and I attend a "Book Babies" club at our local library. It meets once a week and is completely free. There is singing and dancing, as well as reading and letter recognition activities."
6. Water Activities
Many moms start their kids in swimming programs even before the toddler years. Circle of Moms member Jessica H. feels swimming is important for the sport as well as the safety aspect. There are swimming classes available for all ages, at indoor facilities such as Aqua Tots and at your local YMCA. Winnie T. has been taking her son to YMCA swim classes since he was 12 months old: "...he took the actual swimming class at 3.5 (at the local YMCA), and around 4, he managed floating. Now he is 4.5, he can do freestyle, breast stroke, back stroke, diving, all on his own!! And he can do lap swim, too."
7. Simple Yoga
The benefits of yoga are not just for adults. Moms who enjoy yoga are teaching their toddlers some beginner poses. Jenny T. is one such mom: "To stay active WITH my kids... I do easy yoga poses (which they copied when they were littler)!" Like swimming, there are classes you can take that are designed for you and your child. Samantha C. likes yoga for kids because: "it teaches them relaxation techniques."
8. Interactive Video Gaming
The popularity of the Wii and other similar game systems have brought us a new way to work out at home. Frances G. says the Wii has helped her get in shape while keeping her 2-year-old twins occupied: "I got a Wii Fit - the sounds and colors keeps them happy while I get to do a bit of a work out." Kim F. also likes to see her kids playing the Wii: "My 3-year-old loves our Wii, especially golf, but she loves to play tennis and bowling with her older brother and sister. I think it's a lot better than just sitting watching TV or using the computer or other video games, at least she is up and moving around."
What are your favorite ways to get moving with your child?
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.