Resources for Families

Physical Fitness for Pre-School Children

Childhood obesity has tripled in just 20 years. Preschool children who are inactive risk becoming overweight later in life. The U.S. Surgeon General says daily exercise is a key to being fit.

What physical activities can you expect preschool-age children (ages 3-5) to do?

By age 3 most children can:

  • Go up and down stairs by alternating their feet.
  • Jump in place.
  • Throw overhead.

By age 4 most children can:

  • Catch a bounced ball.
  • Jump with a running start.
  • Pedal a tricycle.

By age 5 most children can:

  • Skip, leading with one foot.
  • Roll like a log.
  • "Pump" on a swing.

What can you do at home or in school to help young children be physically fit?
Encourage then to get moving. Make positive comments that focus on effort: "Wow, you zoomed down the slide!" "You almost made a basket."

Provide at least 60 minutes a day for active free play. Let them run, climb, march, pedal, throw, roll, skip, dig and jump in a safe space until they are tired. Offer riding toys, balls, beanbags, climbers, balance beams, and obstacle courses.

Think about safety. Help children remember hats and mittens during cold weather. In hot weather, see that they cool off in the shade and drink plenty of water. Whatever the weather, help them avoid overexposure to direct sunlight.

Plan an hour or more of structured physical activity each day. Families and teachers can teach creative movement, dance, and game-playing skills.

Turn off the TV and computer. Experts say preschoolers should not sit in one place or lie down for more than an hour at a time unless they are sleeping. Limiting “screen time” provides more opportunities for active play.

Set a good example. Let children see you eating healthy food and being active. Discuss becoming healthy and strong.

Share books that show the importance of fitness. Offer children books about dancers, athletes, construction workers, farmers, and other physically active people.


*Adapted from Illinois Early Learning Project: Illinois Department of Education.


Fun and Fitness for the Family in the Pottstown Area

Take advantage of fitness-oriented activities that are fun, easy, and in most cases, absolutely free. Fun & Fitness for the Family from the Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation features great local destinations and things to do year-round from hiking, biking and tennis to cross-country skiing, softball, swimming, horseback riding, boating, fishing, bird walks and more.

Here are a few ideas:

  • French Creek State Park
  • Green Lane Park
  • Pottstown Family YMCA
  • Daniel Boone Homestead
  • Green Valley Association Barn
  • Schuykill River Trail
  • Trilogy Park

For more information and activities visit and click on Fitness Guide.