This is the youngest exercise program I have ever seen – and it had powerful results. The babies involved were tiny premies, averaging about 2 1/2 pounds in weight, and still 3 months before their due dates. Typically these babies would spend the day lying still, and typically they would lose bone strength week by week until they were big enough to start moving about on their own.
In this remarkable study, published in the July 2003 issue of Pediatrics, half of the babies were put on an exercise program: for 5 minutes a day, 5 days a week, someone moved their limbs through a gentle, passive workout.
These babies were compared to another group who just got contact and stroking for the same time (might personal touch influence bone strength?).
In just 4 weeks, the babies in the exercise group had significantly stronger bones than their little peers. Further research is still needed to learn more about the best amount and best kind of exercise for babies, but even for the youngest of us a little bit of physical activity can make a big difference.
It’s never too soon to make physical activity a daily habit for our children.