7 Ways to Exercise at Home With a Toddler or Preschooler

At home with a rambunctious toddler or preschooler? Here's how to exercise in a way that gets your heart pumping and helps run down their energy, too.

Boy dancing and jumping
Photo: Orbon Alija/Getty Images

Being stuck inside for days on end is one thing. Being stuck inside for days on end with a toddler or preschooler is quite another. Finding ways to contain little ones' energy while adhering to stay at home orders and social distancing measures is proving truly exhausting for parents everywhere.

Thankfully, there are a variety of ways to help them stay active and burn off all that buzzy energy right in your own home, no matter how much space you have. Here, several types of activity and exercises kids will love.

1. Throw a Dance Party

"My toddler loves dancing and singing and so I typically set up a 'stage' for him to perform on," explains Olga Zakharchuk, the founder & CEO of Baby Schooling. "I just push chairs out of the way and set them up on either side of the space to create his makeshift stage! I'll let him listen to his favorite songs and use one of his toy microphones to sing into. He'll dance for an hour or longer and is always more tired after doing so."

Or if you want to get organized with it, try a hip hop cardio class, like Studio SWEAT onDemand's Hip Hop Cardio Class for Kids, featuring an easy-to-follow routine.

2. Do a Zumbini Class

The spin-off from Zumba and kids TV channel BabyFirst is an early childhood program, which combines music, dance, and educational tools for kids up to 4 years old. And now you and your child can take the 45-minute class virtually.

3. Take a Ballet Class

The Cultural Council for Palm Beach Country, which represents several arts and culture institutions, is touting a variety of virtual dance lessons for kids. Check out the Ballet Arts Dance Company (offering virtual classes), Ballet Florida (free classes via Instagram Live), Boca Ballet Theatre (free classes via Instagram Live), and Downtown Dance ($10/class on Zoom).

4. Learn a New Yoga Pose

Before you do a whole yoga flow with your toddler or preschooler, consider starting out with teaching one pose per day, suggests Kamala Alcantara, co-founder and the Chief Content Officer for Ninja Focus, a digital mindfulness coach for kids.

"Learning yoga poses like a pigeon, down dog, and warrior are not only fun for your child to learn but will also benefit them physically and emotionally," explains Alcantara. "Ninja Focus has an entire section devoted to yoga for kids, making it simple and easy for them to learn poses and then putting the poses together in yoga flows."

From Cosmic Kids Yoga to Yoga With Adriene Yoga for Kids, there are a bevy of resources for children's yoga classes. Here's a sweet 15-minute flow from Nicole Glor of NikkiFitness, which she did alongside her 4-year-old daughter.

5. Play Some Soccer

Preschoolers can work on their soccer skills through virtual instruction. One option: SoccerStars at Home, which connects kids with their friends and a coach via screen share so they can receive group and one-on-one attention. Lessons are designed to play in small spaces with no formal equipment needed. They might also enjoy the DribbleUp Smart Soccer Ball, which works with any phone or tablet and connects to your TV via Apple TV or Chromecast and helps kids improve footwork through one-on-one virtual coaching sessions and 30-day programs.

6. Try Some Tennis

Net Generation, the youth tennis brand of the United States Tennis Association (USTA) is aiming to keep kids active and engaged mentally and physically with its Tennis At Home resources. Check out their follow-along video workouts—like this video for working on footwork.

7. Build an Obstacle Course

The Olympics might not be happening this year, but that doesn't mean you can't recreate the spirit of the games for your child with an indoor obstacle course. "Set up an outdoor obstacle course using big cardboard boxes, blankets draped over a chair and other objects," suggests Lee Scott, a member of The Goddard School's Educational Advisory Board. "Include your child’s favorite stuffed animal or a ball or two. Your child can then explore going in, under and around the items. Give simple directions such as 'Roll the ball into the box' or 'Let’s have Teddy go through the hoop.' Your child will build language and listening skills as well as work on gross motor development."

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