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Questionnaire: Is Your Early Years Child Active Enough?

Is Your Kid Active Enough?

You can't plop a 2-year-old on a treadmill and measure his heart rate, or ask a 4-year-old to do push-ups -- but you can get a good idea of whether your child is getting enough exercise by answering these questions.

1. What's his body mass index, or BMI? BMI is a measure of body fat based on height and weight; use the calculator at the centers for Disease control and Prevention's site, cdc.gov. Record your child's BMI (and BMI-for-age) here: __________

2. Outside time: Playing in the sandbox counts as much as tooling around on a trike. Outdoor time can be broken up. For example, if one morning she runs around in the backyard for 20 minutes, and then that afternoon she spends an hour at the playground, write down 80 minutes for that day.

Monday:______ minutes___ minutes____ minutes____ TOTAL
Tuesday:______ minutes___ minutes____ minutes____ TOTAL
Wednesday:_____ minutes___ minutes____ minutes____ TOTAL
Thursday:______ minutes___ minutes____ minutes____ TOTAL
Friday:______ minutes___ minutes____ minutes____ TOTAL
Saturday:______ minutes___ minutes____ minutes____ TOTAL
Sunday:______ minutes___ minutes____ minutes____ TOTAL

3. Structured physical activities: This refers to adult-led activity -- anything from games at preschool (check with the teacher) to soccer, gymnastics, or movement classes.

Monday:______ minutes___ minutes____ minutes____ TOTAL
Tuesday:______ minutes___ minutes____ minutes____ TOTAL
Wednesday:_____ minutes___ minutes____ minutes____ TOTAL
Thursday:______ minutes___ minutes____ minutes____ TOTAL
Friday:______ minutes___ minutes____ minutes____ TOTAL
Saturday:______ minutes___ minutes____ minutes____ TOTAL
Sunday:______ minutes___ minutes____ minutes____ TOTAL

4. Unstructured physical activities: Play that's not adult-led, both indoors and out -- such as dancing, climbing on the jungle gym, swinging, splashing in the pool, even digging in the sandbox or simply running around.

Monday:______ minutes___ minutes____ minutes____ TOTAL
Tuesday:______ minutes___ minutes____ minutes____ TOTAL
Wednesday:______ minutes___ minutes____ minutes____ TOTAL
Thursday:______ minutes___ minutes____ minutes____ TOTAL
Friday:______ minutes___ minutes____ minutes____ TOTAL
Saturday:______ minutes___ minutes____ minutes____ TOTAL
Sunday:______ minutes___ minutes____ minutes____ TOTAL

5. Sedentary activities: This category includes screen time (TV, computers, video games), as well as reading, coloring, and doing puzzles. Note when your child is just sitting, and jot down for how long each time.

Monday:______ minutes___ minutes____ minutes____ TOTAL
Tuesday:______ minutes___ minutes____ minutes____ TOTAL
Wednesday:_____ minutes___ minutes____ minutes____ TOTAL
Thursday:______ minutes___ minutes____ minutes____ TOTAL
Friday:______ minutes___ minutes____ minutes____ TOTAL
Saturday:______ minutes___ minutes____ minutes____ TOTAL
Sunday:______ minutes___ minutes____ minutes____ TOTAL

Measuring Up

Compare your findings with these activity goals:

  1. Body mass index is one of the best ways to evaluate health risks as they relate to size, says Eliana Perrin, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of medicine.

  2. "Research shows that if a preschooler has plenty of opportunities to be outdoors, he'll be more physically active," says Faigenbaum. And yet some kids get only 10 to 15 minutes of daily outdoor playtime, according to the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

  3. According to the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE), 2-year-olds should get at least 30 minutes of structured physical activity each day; kids ages 3 to 5 should get at least 60 minutes of structured activity each day.

  4. According to NASPE, toddlers and preschoolers should get a minimum of 60 minutes and preferably several hours of unstructured physical activity daily.

  5. NASPE also recommends that toddlers and preschoolers not be sedentary for more than 60 minutes at a time. This doesn't mean that reading or doing crafts is inferior to peewee soccer; it does mean that there should be a healthy balance between sedentary activities -- especially screen time -- and physical ones throughout the day.

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