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Physical Activity for Preschool-Age Children

It starts with you. Parents and adult caregivers are role models for children. Play together with kids.  

Kids of all ages need daily physical activity to stay healthy and feel great.
Children ages 3–5 benefit in special ways, including improved growth at a critical time when they're adding inches of height year after year.

Daily physical activity:

  • Gives kids energy during the day
  • Helps them sleep during naps and at night
  • Teaches new skills and improves confidence
  • Builds strong bones and muscles
  • Helps kids grow up at a healthy weight

As kids get older and go to school, physical activity may even improve grades. There’s a link between physical activity and doing better in school.

Keep your kids moving in all kinds of ways throughout each day.

National recommendations suggest a mix of light, moderate and vigorous activities off and on during several hours each day for preschool-age children.

There are so many ways to play. Little kids can join organized activities like youth soccer or gymnastics, but everyday activities like playing catch and tag will also get their hearts pumping and their bodies sweating.

Turn on music and dance. Go for a walk. Strap on a helmet and ride a tricycle. Grab a bucket and go berry picking. Move like a favorite animal — hop like a frog, crawl like a spider, slither like a snake.  

What you do today matters tomorrow.

Your kids are young. You might not be thinking about preventing chronic diseases during preschool.

But did you know that the physical activity your kids do now, plus the healthy drinks you serve them (think water or milk), can improve their chances of preventing diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and many types of cancers years from now?

Being active and choosing healthy drinks while growing up can prevent diseases that last a lifetime. That's a great investment that you can work toward right now with your family.

Tips for Parents. Focus on fun, not performance. Limit time in front of screens — like TV, videos and electronic devices. Take short active play breaks throughout the day. Recognize that children learn and develop skills at different rates. Keep your kids moving off and on during the day – unless they are sleeping.  

Share the Message

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You can also download free electronic copies below.

Learn more

Read the National Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, which discuss the many benefits of daily activity for preschool-age children.

Children of all Abilities Get Out and Play Every Day