Children develop a sense of play and what types of activities they enjoy most at an early age. Physical activity has many benefits for children including:
- Maintaining a healthy weight;
- Developing motor skills and strong bones;
- Improving social skills and brain development;
- Increasing confidence in their bodies;
- Reducing stress and feelings of depression;
- Helping children sleep better; and
- Decreasing problems with behavior and discipline.
The Healthy Initiatives encourage child care providers to include opportunities for play and activity throughout the day. This includes indoor and, weather permitting, outdoor play. Specifically, children need to be physically active for at least 20 minutes every three (3) hours they are in care between 7am-7pm.
Incorporating physical activity can be done easily throughout the day. While long play times are great, child care providers can also do short bursts of activity in between other tasks. Examples of ways to keep kids moving are to have them:
- Act out their favorite story books;
- Dance to music;
- Pretend they are different animals;
- Pretend to play different musical instruments as they move from one activity to another;
- Allow babies to be active by enjoying tummy time and watching the other children as they play nearby.