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For young children, physical activity is natural. Kids in Action is based on the premise that children love to move. Little ones are delighted to have your company and your undivided attention. Playing actively with them will give pleasure to both of you. You do not need to be an expert on movement to promote a child's daily physical activity, and no special equipment is necessary to make meaningful activity part of children's lives.
Being active from an early age will help children become physically fit later in life. Health-related fitness involves cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, and body composition. This booklet incorporates these elements into activities for children in three age groups: infants (birth to 18 months), toddlers (18 to 36 months), and preschoolers (3 to 5 years).

Small children need several hours of unstructured movement every day. They should never be inactive for more than 60 minutes. Toddlers need at least 30 minutes of structured activities, such as those presented in this booklet, and preschoolers need at least 60 minutes of structured activities. You can break all activity periods into smaller units of ten or fifteen minutes.

To help your child reach individual activity goals, choose several of the activities in Kids in Action each day. Play at each one for 10 or 15 minutes. Ideally, you would have at least two or three activity sessions a day. When playing with your child, choose only activities for which he is developmentally ready. For example, don't play Creepy/Crawly until your baby is able to crawl and creep successfully. For activities that call for your infant to be seated before she can sit up unassisted, prop her up against a stable object such as the front of a sofa, or surround her with firm pillows. Most babies can sit assisted by 4 months of age and unassisted by age 9 months.

As you perform activities in Kids in Action with your child, remember that the most important thing you can do to promote an active lifestyle is to be a role model. So have fun, and let the suggestions here inspire your own creative movement ideas.

Remember, in addition to structured movements such as those shown here, young children should also participate in at least 60 minutes a day of unstructured physical activity. The more the better! So be sure they have the time, space, and opportunity to crawl, walk, run, jump, climb and play actively!

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