Why is it important to encourage active play?

By moving more and sitting less, children learn to live in a healthful way.  When children particpate in active play, they develop their large muscles.  Large muscle development is important for movements such as walking, balancing, sitting up straiight, kicking, jumping, lifting, reaching, and throwing a ball.  Large muscle development also supports the development of small muscles, which helps with skills such as holding small objects and turning pages.

Active play also develops children’s confidence in their ability physically.   Active play helps children build their bones.  Habits learned early in life can create lifelong physical activity habits. Support these good habits while they are young by getting  your children away from the computers and by being a role model encouraging active play every day.

Active play time does not have to occur in a single session. Short bursts of actvitity work well for young chidlren.  You can even plan these actvities throughout the course of the day in 10- to 20-minute intervals.  For example: 30 minutes of free play in the yard in the morning, 15 minutes of dancing after naptime, 10 minutes of tumbling, 15 minutes of climbing on playground equipment or even a 20 minute discovery/nature walk together.

It is recomended that Waddlers and Toddlers (12 months to 3 years old) should have at least 90 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day.  Preschoolers 3 to 6 years old should have at least 120 minutes per day.

For more information go to http://www.teamnutrition.usda.gov/library.html

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