physical activity for

toddlers (1-3)

Toddlers should be physically active every day for at least 180 minutes (3 hours). The more the better. This should be spread throughout the day, including playing outdoors.

The 180 minutes can include light activity such as standing up, moving around, rolling and playing, as well as more energetic activity like skipping, hopping, running and jumping.

Active play, such as using a climbing frame, riding a bike, playing in water, chasing games and ball games, is the best way for this age group to get moving.

Why tummy time is important

Toddlers are known for being an active bunch. They like to explore, move around, and try new things. Pediatricians typically recommend that toddlers get at least 30 minutes of structured physical activity every day. They also recommend at least 60 minutes daily of active play or unstructured physical activity.

Simple Stretching

Stretching is a great way to squeeze in some physical activity. You can teach your toddler to stretch each morning or practice stretching after you have been sitting for a while, such as after reading or watching a movie.

Call out stretches like, “reach to the sky and keep reaching,” “touch your toes,” or “bend to the side.” Just keep it simple and show your little one how to stretch their muscles. Soon they will be able to do it on their own.

 Simple Stretches for Kids

Find the Timer

Hide a ticking kitchen timer set to 5 minutes. Your toddler should be able to detect the ticking noise getting louder as they get closer.

The object of the game is to find the timer before it goes off, so try to set them up for success by choosing a hiding spot they are likely to find. You can also indicate closeness by saying “hotter/colder” or by clapping faster or slower as they approach the object.

Obstacle Course

Get creative and use whatever you have around the house to build a toddler-appropriate obstacle course. For instance, you could begin with a climb over a big pillow followed by a crawl through a cardboard box, a circle around a footstool, and finally a dash through a doorway.

Hide and Seek

Some toddlers might be frightened by hiding or not being able to find you if you hide, so exercise caution when playing this game. Hide in obvious areas with a leg or arm visible at first until they are comfortable playing.


Dancing to music is an excellent way to work in some physical activity. Toddlers are naturally inclined to love music and move their bodies along with it. Turn on some boppy tunes while making lunch or to get your child motivated to clean up their toys.

You also can be more spontaneous if you want and pick three random songs and just start grooving. Or, you can plan a little dance party for your toddler. The key is to get them moving to the music and make it fun.

Organized Exercise

If you already do some type of organized exercise at home, like aerobics or yoga, get your toddler involved. While it is unlikely your toddler will want to do the entire workout with you and will instead opt to play nearby, you can invite them to join you for the warm-up or maybe just the last 10 minutes.

You can also build in an additional toddler-friendly 10 minutes at the end to cool down or even add a special yoga sequence just for them. Even though this workout might be for your benefit, it is a good idea for them to share this experience with you and learn from your example.