The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 3 hours of active and outdoor play a day, for children age 3-5 years old. That is about 15 minutes per hour when they are awake. And for children age 6 and older, they need 60 minutes of physical activity a day. I know what you're thinking- who has time for that? Toddlers are very active and are probably getting the amount of exercise they need.
Team sports and scheduled activities such as dance, judo, and gymnastics are great but walking around your neighborhood, playing in the yard, throwing a ball and family bike rides all count as exercise. Be a role model and encourage everyone in the family to get moving. Exercise should be age appropriate- don't expect a toddler to walk for miles. If you are going on a walk, plan ahead. I always used to bring snacks and drinks, my children were always hungry and it was motivation for them to walk a little further and then sit and have some food. I tried to think of fun activities, counting the number of steps, walking for 10 steps and running for 10 steps, running to touch trees or hiding behind trees. Pointing out various objects helps keep a toddler engaged, look for birds, different trees and flowers. The more fun it is, the longer your child will walk! Taking a ball or frisbee to the park helps keep children interested. Don't expect them to play on their own- join in!!
There are lots of benefits to exercising. It helps children focus at school, improves sleep, burns calories, boosts self esteem and builds strong bones and muscles. So get out there and enjoy yourselves.