How to Encourage an Early Love of Movement

children moving
children moving

Many parents and caregivers want to instill in their children a love of movement and exercise that will last a lifetime. Unfortunately, fewer than 24% of American youngsters aged 6 to 17 engage in the recommended 60 minutes of physical exercise each day (1 Trusted Source).

what is good news? Early passion for a particular activity, like exercise, often lasts a youngster their whole life. You must lay the groundwork for a lifetime appreciation for movement in your child’s early years if you want to guarantee that they receive adequate exercise as they become older.

Learn how a child develops a love of movement at home, receive tips for encouraging young children to be active and enjoy it, and find out why physically active kids grow up to be active people by reading on.

The desire for exercise begins at home.

Your example to young children is crucial to their long-term health.

Children imitate their parents’ and other major role models’ behavior when it comes to a variety of lifestyle behaviors, including physical activity and fitness routines, according to Denise Woodall-Ruff, MD, a pediatrician and the director of the Healthy Weight & Wellness Center at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital.

“A child is more likely to accept these behaviors for themselves if they see a parent or role model engage in a healthy level of physical activity,” the author claims. Similar to this, Woodall-Ruff explains, “a child is more likely to accept sedentary behaviors as the norm if they see their caregiver sit on the couch for extended periods of time and engage in sedentary behaviors.”

At the Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles, orthopedic surgeon Natasha Trentacosta, MD, specializes in pediatric and adult sports medicine. Children look up to parents, babysitters, and teachers as examples of how to negotiate life, she adds, thus they serve as role models for young children.

According to Trentacosta, “Children who routinely see their parents participating in sports and fitness activities are more inclined to do it themselves. This is particularly true today as young children are spending more time on screens and engaging in less physical exercise. Early development of good behaviors will benefit children as they age.

Developing a passion of exercise in children begins at home. An early love of movement may be fostered by modeling and discussing healthy habits, participating in physical exercise with your children, and promoting physical activity every day.

How to encourage a passion for movement

Maintaining the enjoyment element as the main priority will help cultivate a passion of exercise from an early age. Kids are less likely than adults to get enthusiastic about something they don’t like. Additionally, kids will likely want more of it if they’re having fun, which offers them time to hone their talents and advance their knowledge.

According to John Gallucci Jr., DPT, ATC and CEO of JAG-ONE Physical Therapy, “every child is different, and some gravitate toward exercise and physical activity more than others.”

Finding activities that your kid likes and transforming them into activities that encourage them to exercise more are crucial. Children, particularly young children, shouldn’t feel like exercising is a duty, according to Gallucci.

Keep in mind that although many kids like organised sports and competition, some youngsters do as they become older and more active in organized sports. Maintain a wider definition of mobility that includes activities they like, such as going on walks as a family, dancing in the living room, climbing trees, and yoga.

Kids who are introduced to movement and physical activity from an early age are more likely to experience all of its advantages sooner, and as they become older, their enthusiasm in exercise is likely to expand.

Movement and exercise shouldn’t be a hassle. Keep having fun and encouraging youngsters to engage in things they like as your main priorities as parents and carers.

advice for beginning

Your child’s physical, mental, and emotional growth depends on you giving them opportunity to exercise every day. Additionally, it assists in laying the groundwork for adult active engagement in physical activities.

Here are 12 ideas to get kids interested in activity at a young age.

Verify the activity’s age suitability.

It may not be the greatest idea to invite a 3-year-old to join in on a family game of badminton in order to promote mobility. Lowering the net and providing them with a preschool-sized racket and a huge ball, on the other hand, promotes success and raises the level of enjoyment.

enhance motor skills

Children, particularly toddlers, must develop their gross motor abilities. Children benefit from these abilities in terms of balance, strength, coordination, and response time (2 Trusted Source).

Keep games focused on kicking or tossing a ball, jumping, climbing, obstacle courses, or riding a tricycle or bike with training wheels if you have toddlers and young children.

When they are riding bikes, make sure they are wearing helmets and other safety gear, and make sure they are being properly watched when climbing or using toys or equipment that moves.

children moving
children moving

Provide toys that are active.

Include toys that demand vigorous play when picking indoor and outdoor toys, such as balls for small children and bikes and scooters for older children. Make sure the climbing toys are age-appropriate before buying them for toddlers, preschoolers, or school-age children.

At home, try to prioritize active toys over passive ones. Have your kid contribute a passive toy in exchange for a new active toy when they ask for a new one. As a result, the balance is tipped in favor of mobility, and they learn that less is more.

favor unstructured play

Children discover themselves and their world via unstructured play. Additionally, it’s a great opportunity to get in some exercise.

A few free-play moments should be scheduled throughout the day. Encourage your kid to spend 30 minutes outside using their creativity to design an obstacle course or treasure hunt, ride a bike or scooter, or play with balls and other outdoor toys in order to keep the play active.

Join your youngsters in some exercise.

The advice to “get some exercise” does not always stick with children of any age. However, if you engage in physical activity with your kids, they’re more likely to want to take part. Additionally, this may save time for working parents who want to exercise but find it difficult to be away from their children after work.

Schedule your activities.

A weekly physical exercise regimen with objectives is advised by Woodall-Ruff. You should work on this project together and upload it somewhere accessible. Choose a non-food incentive with your kid for when they achieve that objective.

Discuss fitness

You must explain what movement is to your children if you want them to embrace it. Seek for chances to instill a healthy exercise culture at home. Discuss how essential your sports, hobbies, and exercises are to your life. Discuss the role that food plays in driving movement at the dinner table.

Converting tasks into exercise

Combining housework with physical contests helps your youngster finish a home duty while also getting some exercise. Make chores a game that incorporates exercise if you have more than one kid.

For instance, toddlers and young children might compete to see who can put their clothes in the basket the quickest. Make mowing the lawn or weeding the garden an outside contest. Each youngster (and adult) should be given a specific area of the yard to tidy up. Whoever crosses the finish line first wins.

Allow them to choose the activity

Even young children are aware of their preferences, and they love being asked about them. Allow your kid to choose a few sports or activities they like, and take part in them as a family.


There are a ton of books that inspire movement in young children in bookshops and libraries. Bring several of them together and let your youngster choose two or three to take home. The following titles may help you get started:

  • by Sarah Jane Hinder, “Yoga Bug”
  • Helen Purperhart’s “The Yoga Zoo Adventure”
  • Nancy Carlson’s “Get Up and Go”

Enroll in a preschool with an active curriculum.

If you require child care or want to enroll your kid in preschool, seek for facilities that prioritize mobility and fitness throughout the day.

Take up a team sport

When children are old enough, you could think about signing them up for a team sport. Most kids are prepared for basic, structured sports by the time they are six, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (3).

With age divisions that adjust the game to a child’s age and ability, group sports like soccer and tee-ball enable kids to develop new skills while learning about competition.

Children’s physical activity recommendations

Children should engage in physical exercise for 60 minutes or more each day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (4 Trusted Source).

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, in more detail, provide parents and other caregivers a framework of exercise recommendations based on age categories (5Trusted Source).

children in preschool

Young children between the ages of 3 and 5 should engage in a lot of physical exercise each day. At this age, exercise is intended to promote growth and development. Children in preschool should be exposed to a range of activities including active play. The key when feeding young children is variety.

adolescent students

Children, adolescents, and teenagers between the ages of 6 and 17 should exercise for at least 60 minutes per day at a moderate to strenuous level. This doesn’t have to happen all at once. Encourage children to divide the 60 minutes into manageable portions.

Taking part in 20 minutes of physical exercise at school, such as 20 minutes of soccer practice, 20 minutes of biking, etc. Remember that the physical activity requirements apply to all movement and exercise, from moderate to strenuous.

Youth of school age should ideally participate in bone, muscular, and aerobic building exercises. However, the majority of your daily 60 minutes of exercise should be aerobic or cardiovascular in nature. On three days of the week, they may incorporate workouts that build the muscles and bones, such as resistance training.

Tag, follow the leader, playing on a playground, biking, walking, skipping, dancing, swimming, tossing and catching games, and tumbling are a few examples of aerobic activities for preschool-aged children.

While athletics, dancing, catching and throwing games, hiking, swimming, tag, and flat football are among the aerobic activities suitable for school-age children and teenagers.

Young people in school-age groups and adolescents should engage in physical exercise for at least 60 minutes each day. Children of preschool age may concentrate on movement all day long by participating in active play, outdoor exercise, and family physical activity.

Movement in infancy is associated with adult physical fitness

Healthy physical exercise habits that are formed in childhood are more likely to be sustained as adults.

Physical exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight, strengthens your bones and muscles, and improves your heart health, according to research (6Trusted Source).

According to Woodall-Ruff, these physical advantages for kids may lead to better adult results.

According to a large observational research including more than 48,000 postmenopausal women, greater levels of physical activity during childhood were linked to higher levels of exercise as adults.

greater precisely, women who were physically active as kids engaged in greater physical activity as adults, with the majority average 2.8 more metabolic equivalent (MET) hours per week than women who were never physically active as kids (7Trusted Source).

Another research discovered a link between sports involvement at age 10 and increased physical activity at age 42. However, this research also included childhood outdoor play as a predictor of adult physical activity and found that, unlike engagement in sports, childhood outdoor play was not connected to physical activity at age 42 (8Trusted Source).

Children who are physically active grow up to be more active adults and generally have healthier lives.

According to studies, when exercise and physical activity are introduced early in infancy, self-assurance in one’s skills and a desire in leading a healthier, more active lifestyle are fostered early on and then sustained for the rest of the person’s life, says Gallucci.

Young children who are physically active grow up to maintain healthy habits and are more likely to exercise regularly.

The conclusion

Get your kids moving, and from a young age, is maybe one of the finest things you can do for their health.

In addition to promoting academic success and long-term health throughout their school years, this will also help children develop a lifelong love of exercise.