The CDC recommends at least 60 minutes of physical activity for kids each day. That might seem like a lot to fit into your schedule, but if your youngsters are playing outside and running around with their friends at the playground, at least they’re getting some regular movement. Of course, there’s always a battle when it comes to screen time and schoolwork, so it’s important to have some physical activities for kids in mind in case a rainy day or boredom strikes.
We’ve put together a list of both indoor and outdoor ideas that might include a little something different for your crew. Introducing new activities can make exercise more enjoyable, and the whole family will have an easier time getting up and moving around together. Aim for 60 minutes or more each day for healthy, happy kids and pleased parents.
Get Your Kiddos Active With Adventures From Scratch
Sometimes, a lack of physical activity isn’t due to a lack of motivation, but to a lack of creative ideas. That’s where we come in! Adventures From Scratch Family Edition is an interactive book that includes over 50 ideas for entertaining and exciting ways to spend time outdoors or in. Your kids will love picking a page and scratching off the surface to uncover what you’ll do on any given day. Find your next adventure!
5 Benefits of Physical Activities for Kids
Most of these are probably obvious, but it’s important to remind yourself of the benefits of daily physical activity for kids. These also apply to adults if you need a little extra motivation.
1. Staying active helps strengthen the heart and lungs.
Like all muscles, your heart needs to be challenged by exercise to stay strong. By strengthening your heart, you are helping to prevent heart disease and keep your arteries and veins clear of cholesterol and fats. It’s also important to exercise to increase your lung capacity. The more oxygen you move in and out of the body, the stronger your lungs will be.
2. Activities help kids develop leaner, stronger bodies.
Unused calories can turn into fat and if kids are sedentary too much, they might be consuming more calories than they are using and become at risk of dealing with obesity and type 2 diabetes. Daily exercise will help develop stronger muscles and help them with sports and other activities as they get older.
3. Exercise boosts energy and improve sleep quality.
These two may seem like opposites, but they work together. By doing physical activities, you’ll help regulate your schedule. Many sedentary kids are sluggish during the day and do not sleep very well at night. If they use more energy during the day, their sleep will improve and make them more alert and energetic during the day when they can best use that energy.
4. Physical activity improves mood and self esteem.
Physical activities don’t just impact your physical health, it also helps with mental health. Moving your body creates endorphins which are natural mood boosters. For kids that are having a lot of emotions, moving their bodies can help them work through some of their frustration and stress in a healthy way.
5. Frequent movement promotes general wellbeing.
By helping your kids incorporate physical activity into daily routines and not just during physical education classes in school, you’re helping them form healthy habits. You are a role model for your kids, so if you make time for movement during the day, your kids will learn to as well and can continue that as they grow up.
Indoor Physical Activities for Kids
Visit an Indoor Gymnastics and Trampoline Park
More and more indoor gymnasiums are opening with trampolines and foam pits. It’s become a hot spot for kids’ birthday parties. But it’s great for any rainy day or when you just need to let the kids run wild. Places like Sky Zone Trampoline Parks offer a large space where kids can literally bounce off the walls and practice flips and tumbling with soft landing spots.
There are also many indoor recreation centers with gym time if you just want to let the kids run and play in a wide open space. There are usually mats and props that can be used to play games. Utilize the free and affordable resources in your neighborhood. Kids will get the chance to play and interact with others during that time as well.
Have a Daily Dance Party
Turn on some music and invite the kids to dance and move. If this is new to them, you can show them how it is done. Whether you control the playlist or you give them some DJ powers, it will be a fun way to break up the day and have some fun together.
You can make it more interesting by playing freeze dance where you stop the music at random times and everyone that is dancing has to freeze in place. Depending on how wild the dance moves are, this can be a hilarious game.
You can also access tons of free dance lessons on YouTube where your kids can learn various styles of dance from break dancing to hip hop to ballet. They might discover a new passion and want to sign up for classes.
Set Up an Obstacle Course
Even if you are stuck at home, there are plenty of unique fun activities you can still have some fun. Set up an obstacle course in your living room. You can use masking tape, pieces of furniture, string, pieces of paper, and any other materials to create obstacles for the kids to move through.
Have them jump, crawl under, balance on, or spin around objects. Games like these can be changed over and over while using the same supplies. Tell the kids that the floor is lava or they need to do everything while walking backward. Have them come up with obstacles to add in. It’s a great way to use what you already have.
Build a Large Scale Race Track
Do you have young children who love cars? Give them some rolls of masking tape and have them create a giant race track through the rooms of your house. This will get them crawling around the ground over longer distances laying out the tracks and once it’s done, there will be lots of quick movements as they drive the cars quickly around the track.
Bonus points if you have enough space to use ride-on cars. An empty garage or unfinished basement can be perfect for activities like that because there won’t be anything that can be damaged by the wheels and any possible accidents.
Try Classic Hide and Seek
Hide and seek is a fun and easy game you can play in your home. Kids of all ages can have fun playing hide and seek. There are also some fun ways to play that make it like a new game. Sardines is one version that will have everyone giggling. In this version, one person hides and everyone else looks for them. Once you find them, you join them in their hiding place until everyone is wedged in place like sardines in a can and there’s only one person left searching.
This game might not involve a ton of running around, but just being up and moving around the house counts as physical activity and the game is easy for adults to join in as well.
Play Simon Says with Classic Exercise Activities
Simon Says is a fun game to play where the leader gets to instruct everyone to do specific tasks and movements. You can incorporate some physical exercise into the game. Jumping jacks and push-ups are a few good examples. Simon can tell the kids to do a few push-ups, dance in place, do a somersault, or complete 10 jumping jacks before trying to trick them into doing something without Simon telling them to. Kids love this game and it can be a great way to get them up and moving around.
Not all video games involve sitting in a chair staring at a computer screen or television. There are some active games that can get everyone up and moving around. With new virtual reality options that allow players to explore places and complete challenges, the technology continues to add options.
Another classic option is the Nintendo Wii which makes games like bowling, tennis, and golf possible in your living room. See if you can get your hands on a game like this that will not only fulfill your child’s love of video games but it will also get them up and moving around. It’s the best of both worlds!
Utilize Tools like GoNoodle
GoNoodle is a resource for families and teachers to help use some good energy. It’s a collection of lessons for school-aged children that help kids learn about wellness, health, and how to help make positive impacts on the world. Kids will watch the videos and participate in silly games and movement activities. Each activity is created to burn up about 5-10 minutes of physical energy and is popular with teachers of younger children who have a hard time sitting for long periods of time and paying attention.
Blow Up a Few Balloons for Games
Balloons are great tools for indoor activities. You can blow up a couple of dollar store balloons and challenge the kids to not let them touch the ground. This will have kids diving to save the balloon from falling and will help get some physical activity.
You can also have them try the penguin waddle where they have to walk around with the balloon between their knees and they can’t drop it or pop it. Have the kids try balancing the balloons on the back of their hands or on their feet while laying on the ground and they will work all kinds of muscles trying to keep it in place.
Set Up an Indoor Scavenger Hunt
There are a number of ways you can do this and you’ll want to choose how hard you make it depending on the age of your kids. One idea is to hide stuffed animals and challenge the kids to find all the animals and return them to the zoo.
You can also do a color-coordinated hunt using legos or something similar. Grab different colors of construction paper to be the home base. The kids have to hunt through the house, finding the hidden items and returning them to the correct piece of paper. You can write how many of each color are hidden so they know which colors they have remaining.
Another great idea that works the mind and the body is to hide puzzle pieces. Once they find pieces, they can work to put the puzzle together. This will get them moving around and putting their brains to work putting the pieces together and creating the puzzle.
If you don’t have the time or energy to create a scavenger hunt, why not look to the experts? ScavengerHunt.com offers both outdoor adventures and indoor scavenger hunts that are fantastic for families! Purchase individual event tickets or make the most of the app and offerings with an annual family pass!
Outdoor Activities to Keep Kids Moving
If the weather is nice, get everyone outside for some fresh air and a little more space to move around and burn off some energy with one of these outdoor physical activities for kids.
Use Chalk to Outline a Hopscotch Court
Outline a classic court outline on the driveway with squares from one to ten. Then all you need is a small object, like a rock or coin, to use as the lagger. The first person throws the lagger onto square one and hops over the square and into each of the other squares up to ten and then turns around and comes back until they are in front of the lagger, they pick it up and return to home.
According to the rules for classic hopscotch, the first person to get it in each of the squares and back without stepping on the lines or losing their balance wins. The game helps work on balance and coordination, plus it’s a fun little competition that only requires some chalk and a small object.
Practice Jump Rope Skills
Jump ropes are simple exercise tools that are great for active kids. It makes movement fun, elevates your heart rate, and improves agility and coordination. There are many variations that kids can learn and you can also do some double dutch with a few other kids. Even five minutes of jump roping can do wonders for physical health.
Have a Nature Scavenger Hunt
Nature walks and hikes are fun for adults, but if you want to bring the kids along, make it a little more interesting. Give them a list of things to hunt for on your walk, like a scavenger hunt. Depending on your location, you can use birds, animals, plants, and landmarks as items that they need to check off.
This can be a fun way to get out and explore the parks and areas near you and help kids focus on their surroundings. They can learn about creatures and plants that live and grow near your home. To add a little extra excitement, come up with a fun prize if the kids are able to find everything on their list.
Create Your Own Olympics
Does your whole family get into the Olympic games every two years when they are on TV? Why not take the time to organize your own version for the family and any neighborhood friends? You can set up events like the long jump, gymnastics, the shot put, and any type of running race. The supplies required are pretty simple for many of the events.
Have each person represent a distinct country or create teams, depending on how many participants you have. Host a medal ceremony and play national anthems or have everyone pick a song they want to be played if they win an event.
If the traditional Olympic events don’t interest your kids, you can always come up with unique and original events and share the rules with everyone ahead of time. Utilize playground equipment like the monkey bars and swings and anything else you have access to in your backyard.
Try New Sports
There are so many sports and games that are easy to learn with a quick internet search. If you have adolescents or older kids that are looking for something to fill their time, get them into a new sport like Pickleball or Golf. You can get everyone involved for some family fun. Even if you just try mini-golf or a game of HORSE with a basketball hoop at the park. It’s great to introduce kids to all kinds of activities to see what they enjoy the most.
Twirl with the Hula Hoop
Hula hoops are another great outdoor toy to get some physical activity for kids (and adults). It builds up your core muscles and helps improve balance. Challenge your kids to see how long they can spin it around their hips. You can turn on a traditional Hawaiian hula song and challenge them to keep it going the entire song.
Bike Rides instead of Car Rides
Do you have a few errands to run? Swap your car for bicycles and bring the kids along. If you live in a town or city with great trails, utilize them especially on nice days. The car might seem easier, but if you bike places, you’re crossing multiple things off your list at the same time. You can get everyone some exercise while running errands. Plus, it creates great habits and models environmentally responsible behaviors of using bikes or your own legs instead of driving when it’s possible.
Depending on the weather where you live, this might be an indoor or outdoor activity. Enrolling your children in swimming lessons has so many benefits. Not only will they have fun and burn up some energy, but they will also get an important safety education on water. Knowing how to swim and float can help save lives, so it’s good for every kid to be enrolled in the basics at some point during childhood.
Once your kids know how to swim, you’ll be able to enjoy more beach days and pool days. Swimming and playing in the water is great physical activity and allows everyone to enjoy sunny weather and lots of vitamin D.
Enjoy These Physical Activities With Your Kids!
Have fun with these physical activities! Share special time with your kids, and you’ll get double the benefits.
Use the comment section below to let us know which of the suggestions is your favorite!
Frequently Asked Questions
As often as you can, incorporate physical activities for kids in your daily activities. Use simple tools like hula hoops, jump ropes, or even local playground equipment.
Physical activities for kids have many benefits, including improved focus. Give the kiddos movement breaks, allowing them to do jumping jacks, push-ups, or whatever they need to get the wiggles out.