By David Geller, pediatrician [See Biography]
Answer: It's important to give your child lots of opportunities to get physical — kindergartners figure out what their bodies can do (and burn off energy) by running, jumping, climbing, and exploring their world. Kids this age are usually so active that they get the exercise they need just from going about their daily routine (skipping, dancing, chasing, and wrestling). Some kindergartners, though, may need some extra encouragement. It may be as simple as getting your child outside to play ball, chase butterflies, or climb the jungle gym. You'll want to check, too, to see that her school provides recess and plenty of space to run and play.
By now, most kids have grown out of their baby fat. If you're worried about your kindergartner's weight, talk to her pediatrician. If she's too sedentary, replace quieter activities (playing computer games and watching TV) with more energetic ones (riding a bike or roller blading). And make sure you get active with her as much as you can. Play tag in the backyard, start a kickball game at a nearby field, or take a brisk after-dinner walk together.
On the weekends, make sure some family outings are active ones (for instance, hiking, swimming at the local pool, sledding in the park, or riding on a bike trail) instead of sedentary ones, such as taking a drive. Since kindergartners love to be around their friends, invite one of her pals over to splash in the pool or run through the sprinklers. Or bundle them both up to go sledding or have a snowball fight. Kindergartners also enjoy going to the playground with good buddies to slide, swing, climb, and chase each other. If your child seems interested in signing up for a team sport, go ahead and let her. Just make sure that the main focus is on making fitness fun and developing skills — not producing a world-class athlete or burying the competition.