Engaging in regular physical activity is especially important for young children. It builds strength and develops healthy bodies and can even enhance academic performance. Regular physical activity also reduces the risk factors for obesity and diabetes and the development of common chronic diseases of adulthood, such as heart disease and certain cancers. Although pre-kindergarteners are not yet at direct risk of developing many of these diseases, it is important that they begin developing the healthy habits that can impact whether they will develop them later in life.
The benefits to your child of physical activity can include:
Pre-kindergarteners should be engaged in unstructured physical activity for at least one hour each day. This should include a range of activities, from vigorous exercise, such as running around playing tag, to more moderate aerobic activity, such as walking or using a swing. Children this age are usually naturally energetic and active. Many of the activities they enjoy most, such as outdoor play, help them to get the recommended amounts of daily physical activity.
Children should avoid extended periods of inactivity during the day and should be sedentary for no more than an hour or so at a time. The amount of time they are allowed to spend in front of the television or computer screen should be limited accordingly.
Your pre-kindergartener is still developing basic motor skills, such as learning to run, jump, throw, and catch effectively. Physical activities at this age should include games and sports that focus on developing these fundamental skills through play, rather than competition.
Ages 4 and 5 can be a time of great development for your child, both academically and physically.