Fitness and Your 4- to 5-Year-Old

Fitness and Your 4- to 5-Year-Old

By the time kids are 4 and 5 years old, their physical skills like running, jumping, kicking, and throwing, have come a long way. Now they'll continue to refine these skills and build on them to learn more complex ones.

Take advantage of your child's natural tendency to be active. Feeling confident about his or her abilities builds self-esteem, and staying fit decreases the risk of serious illnesses later in life.

Fitness for Preschoolers

The National Association of Sports and Physical Education recommends that every day preschoolers should:

It's important to understand what preschoolers can handle. They should participate in fun and challenging activities that help build skills and coordination but aren't beyond their abilities.

Kids this age are learning to hop, skip, and jump forward, and are eager to show off how they can balance on one foot (for 5 seconds or longer), catch a ball, or do a somersault. Preschoolers might also enjoy swimming, hiking, dancing, and riding a tricycle or bicycle with training wheels.

Many parents look to organized sports to get preschoolers active. But the average 4- or 5-year-old has not mastered even the basics, such as throwing, catching, and taking turns. Even simple rules may be hard for them to understand, as any parent who has watched their child run the wrong way during a game knows.

And starting too young can be frustrating for kids and may discourage future participation in sports. So if you decide to sign your preschooler up for soccer or another team sport, be sure to choose a peewee league that emphasizes the fundamentals.

No matter what the sport or activity, remember that fitness should be fun. If your child isn't having fun, ask why and try to address the issue or find another activity.

Family Fitness Tips

Walking, playing, running in the backyard, or using playground equipment at a local park can be fun for the entire family.

Other activities to try together, or for a group of preschoolers to enjoy, include:

Kids can be active even when they're stuck indoors. Designate a safe play area and try some active inside games:

When to Call the Doctor

If your child refuses to play or join other kids in sports or complains of pain after being active, talk with your doctor.

Kids who enjoy sports and exercise tend to stay active throughout their lives. And staying fit can improve self-esteem, help a person maintain a healthy weight, and decrease the risk of serious illnesses such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease later in life.

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: May 2011





Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

© 1995-2014 The Nemours Foundation/KidsHealth. All rights reserved.





Bookmark and Share

Related Resources
OrganizationYoung Men's Christian Association (YMCA) YMCAs also offer camps, computer classes, and community service opportunities in addition to fitness classes.
OrganizationAmerican Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.
OrganizationAmerican Council on Exercise (ACE) ACE promotes active, healthy lifestyles by setting certification and education standards for fitness instructors and through ongoing public education about the importance of exercise.
Related Articles
Games for Preschoolers Whether at a party or a play date, preschoolers love to play games. These games can be used for birthday parties, rainy day get-togethers, or anytime you find yourself with a bunch of energetic preschoolers.
What's Funny to a Preschooler? Your preschooler is finding new things funny while developing a better understanding of the world - and is eager to show off new ways to be playful and laugh with you.
Fitness for Kids Who Don't Like Sports Some kids aren't natural athletes and they may say they just don't like sports. What then?
Kids and Exercise Besides enjoying the health benefits of regular exercise, kids who are physically fit sleep better and are better able to handle physical and emotional challenges.
Playground Safety Following these safety guidelines can make neighborhood playgrounds entertaining and safe for your kids.
Nutrition & Fitness Center You know the importance of exercising and eating nutritious foods, but do you know how to raise a healthy and active child? Get practical advice and tips.
When Can Young Kids Start Exercising? Find out what the experts have to say.
iGrow iGrow
Sign up for our parent enewsletter