Adding moderate-to-vigorous physical activity into every day routines supports children’s healthy development and learning. Early childhood physical activity helps children feel and sleep better. Good nutrition and enough physical activity help children reach and stay at a healthy weight. Good nutrition and physical activity can also reduce the risk of chronic diseases later in life. Even short bursts of physical activity benefit all age groups.
Preschoolers should get at least 60 minutes every day of structured (adult-led) physical activity; this time can be spread out throughout the day. Preschoolers should also do at least 60 minutes and up to several hours of unstructured (active free play) physical activity every day. Toddlers should get 30 minutes of structured and at least 60 minutes of unstructured physical activity every day. Children should not sit or lie down for more than one hour at a time, except when sleeping. Staff should never use physical activity as a reward or punishment.
There are many ways to add healthy active play into everyday curriculum. I Am Moving, I Am Learning (IMIL) includes activities that increase the amount of physical activity and improves the type and quality. IMIL also addresses healthy nutrition choices, communication with families, and physical activity by suggesting strategies and activities.
Tips and Strategies for Physical Activity in Learning Environments
- Offer children physical activity every day throughout the day.
- Add movement activities and nutrition themes into daily routines.
- Make active play enjoyable through a variety of physical activities.
- Role model movement activities during daily routines.
- Use music to boost physical movement.
- Plan activities indoors and outdoors to promote quality movement practices.
Resource Type: Article
National Centers: Health, Behavioral Health, and Safety
Audience: Directors and Managers
Last Updated: November 10, 2023