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HLT 111 - Health and the Young Child - Textbook

Chapter 14: Physical Education and Physical Activity for the Young Child

Chapter Objectives

At the conclusion of the chapter, students will be able to

  1. Identify the benefits of regular physical activity for the young child.
  2. Describe the key physical activity guidelines for the young child.
  3. Identify age appropriate physical activities for the young child.
  4. Describe barriers to meeting physical activity guidelines for the young child.
  5. Describe the role of schools, in partnership with families and communities, in promoting physical activity among children and adolescents.


The goal of early childhood physical education includes (I) provide developmentally appropriate physical activity experiences, allowing children an opportunity to accumulate 60 minutes of daily physical activity; (ii) provide instructional content designed to foster the development of knowledge and skill in six main movement exploration categories (Movement Concepts, Balance, Locomotor, Manipulative, Health & Nutrition, and Social & Emotional Development); and (iii) provide early childhood teachers and program providers with movement-based activities that work toward developmental outcomes and indicators defined within the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework.

All children need both planned activity and free play. The National Association of Sports and Physical Education recommends that preschool children should get at least one hour of structured and unstructured physical activity each day. While one hour of physical activity may help overall health, two or more hours are needed to develop the motor and social skills that children need to enjoy a lifetime of physical activity.  In addition to being physically active, children should not remain inactive for more than an hour at a time. The only time kids should be not moving for more than an hour straight is when they are sleeping.

According to the CDC (2019), physical activity fosters normal growth and development, can reduce the risk of various chronic diseases, and can make people feel better, function better, and sleep better.  The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition  outlines the amounts and types of physical activity needed to maintain or improve overall health and wellbeing.  It also highlights individual and community-level strategies to encourage physical activity in the places where children live, learn, and play.

The key guidelines for school-aged children and adolescents focus on three types of activity—aerobic, muscle strengthening, and bone strengthening.  Appropriate physical activities for preschool children include playing on a playground, tricycle or bicycle riding walking, running, skipping, jumping, and swimming.  Students need to refer to the guidelines for examples of moderate and vigorous intensity aerobic, muscle-, and bone-strengthening physical activities appropriate for the child’s age.  

Chapter Review and Discussion Questions

Chapter Review

  1. What are the benefits of physical activity for the young child?
  2. How much physical activity should children and adolescents should do daily?
  3. How are physical activity guidelines for the youth different from guidelines for adults?
  4. List examples of moderate-intensity and vigorous-intensity aerobic exercises for pre-school children.
  5. List examples of muscle strengthening and bone-strengthening exercise for pre-school children.