The Power of Movement in Children’s Lives

Physical activity of all kinds stimulates children’s development in the following ways:

  • Physical development – children learn about their bodies and grow strong through movement
  • Intellectual development – physical activities stimulate the connection between mind and body
  • Communication – movement is a means of communication and one of the earliest ways children express their thoughts and feelings
  • Building strong relationships – movement is an important way we connect with others
  • Self-confidence – as children use their bodies to discover their world, they gain knowledge, strength and skills

Children need lots of free time to move, play and discover on their own, but they also benefit from some caregiver directed games and activities. Provide a safe play space inside and outside and be a good role model and get moving too.


Use physical fitness as a positive tool for self-improvement and learning
Make the activities fun and interesting to specific age groups
Be a model and interact with the children in the activities

Age Specific Activities

Infant (newborn–1 year)

  • Help develop skills to roll over, sit, stand and walk
  • Time on their bellies helps develop coordination between upper and lower body
  • Dance and move to different types of music

Toddler (1-3 years)

  • Develop skills to follow directions and learning limitations
  • Activity suggestions: finger play: “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” “Ring-Around-The-Rosie,” “London Bridges,” follow the leader, dance, jump and/or chase bubbles
  • At least 30 minutes daily of physically active ,structured play, plus 60 minutes of free play.

Preschooler (3-5 years)

  • Develop skills for balance and coordination
  • Activity suggestions: make up silly movements to songs, dance, skip, navigate obstacle courses, balance on one foot, walk a low balance beam and do jumping jacks
  • At least 30-60 minutes daily of physically active, structured play, plus 60 minutes of free play

School-age (6-12 years)

  • Develop skills of complex movements and understand rules to games
  • Activity suggestions: hopscotch, jump rope, shoot baskets, play catch or kickball, free-style dance, go on a hike with a goal in mind
  • At least 30-60 minutes daily of physically active structured play, plus 60 minutes of free play

Adolescent (13-older)

  • Develop a sense of individuality and self-worth
  • Let them choose activities of interest in both team and individual fitness activities such as swimming, yoga, basketball, baseball, dance, karate, volleyball or track events
  • At least 30 minutes of physical activity daily, in addition adolescents should have three to five 20-minute sessions of vigorous exercise weekly

Benefits of Physical Activity

  • Strengthens muscles and bones
  • Increases classroom participation and attention
  • Reduces anxiety
  • Increases endurance and flexibility
  • Prevents obesity

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