13 Fun & Easy Exercise Ideas for kids

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Exercises for kids are of immense benefit to kids. They uplift your child, set them on the road to a healthy-filled life, and help them to pick up this healthy habit early which will help them in their adulthood. 

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Studies have shown that children who exercise daily are more physically, emotionally, and mentally healthier than their peers who don’t exercise daily.

When a child has a strong sense of mental, emotional, and physical wellness, he/she is more likely to build a strong and positive sense of self and even have positive interactions within their community. 

Even during the most emotionally turbulent teenage years, exercise for kids will help regulate their emotions and sense of well-being. 

10 Benefits Of Exercises For Kids

1. Improves their sense of well-being 

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Exercises help children develop their sense of well-being. They will develop a social network of like-minded peers that share one common interest. 

This will help your child have friends to lean on for support during hard times. 

Focusing on the social benefits of exercise, this study revealed that adults increase their lifespan by 50% if they have a solid social network. 

Allowing your kids to play soccer with other kids will surely help them enjoy this social benefit of exercise. 

2. Improvement in sleep

One of the greatest benefits of exercise for kids is improved sleep. Children who engage in regular physical exercises are less prone to psychological effects caused by high levels of adrenaline and cortisol (stress). 

According to the Sleep Foundation, exercise restores the built-in circadian rhythm. If the circadian rhythm is normal, children will fall asleep easily. 

Also, physical activity prevents kids from spending too much time on the screen which can reduce their production of melatonin, the sleep hormone that helps naturally to induce sleep. 

These are the way exercises for kids improve sleep and rejuvenate the mind and body of kids. 

Also, when kids are refreshed due to deep and restorative sleep, they will have energy for physical exercises the next day thereby ensuring that the cycle of good sleep continues. 

3. Increases self-confidence 

Photo of children exercising

The Harvard Medical School reveals that humans have an in-built rewards system in their brains that encourages physical activity. This means that humans are innately tactile. 

This does not only boost mood, the mental benefits of exercise for kids are more and they are also long-lasting and cumulative. 

Children increase their self-esteem and self-confidence as they participate in daily physical exercises. 

They can even transfer this feeling of confidence over to their friendships, studies, and communities. 

4. Reduces stress 

The Harvard Medical School also explains that exercises reduce the levels of stress hormones (cortisol and adrenaline) in the body. 

Exercise also stimulates the production and release of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers. They also boost mood thereby helping to regulate the mood of children. 

So, allowing your kids to exercise daily will give them their daily dose of natural and mood-boosting neurochemicals. 

5. Protects against depression 

Depression in children is real. This study showed that physical activity can protect kids from depression. 

The study revealed that children who participated in rough and sweaty exercises in nature are less prone to developing depression than kids who don’t. 

This means you can prevent depression in your children by letting them play outdoors and stay active. 

6. Reduced sugar levels 

Childhood obesity is on the increase today. One of the ways to prevent this is by engaging in physical exercises for kids. 

Controlling a child’s blood sugar level is a serious concern for a lot of parents. They are many ways to go about this:

  • You reduce or eliminate sugary drinks, foods, and processed foods from their diet 
  • Feed them with healthy foods 
  • And allow them to engage in physical exercises for kids 

Children build muscles when they play and as their muscles are working, they will use glucose (sugar) as energy and this will help manage the blood glucose level of your child. 

7. Prevents injury and improves dexterity 

The more active a child is, the better he/she becomes at complex movements. 

It can be a game of tag, climbing into their treehouse, or running around the compounds; kids who are active are constantly teaching their bodies how to move. 

Also, children who move a lot are less likely to hurt themselves. 

8. Boosts the immune system 

Harvard Medical School reveals that one’s first line of defense is to choose a healthy lifestyle. 

And regular physical exercise for kids is a healthy lifestyle. 

Exercise improves health and boosts the immune system by increasing the circulation of blood in the body. This, in turn, allows the cells and substances of the immune system to move freely all through the body and do their job well. 

9. Prevents heart disease 

This chronic condition is a leading cause of death in the world today. 

Caring for your child’s heart is very important and one of the ways to do it is by allowing them to engage in regular physical exercise. 

The Heart Foundation reveals that physical inactivity increases one’s risk of heart disease by 50%. 30 minutes of physical exercise daily for kids can prevent this condition. 

The heart foundation also explains that for every hour of regular exercise gotten, two hours of additional life expectancy is gained. 

The sooner your child starts regular exercises, the better for him/her. 

10. Weight management 

Childhood obesity is also on the rise and this leads to a lot of complications in their early adulthood. One of the ways to prevent and control it is by allowing children to engage in exercise. 

A sedentary lifestyle and poor eating habits lead to weight gain in children and teenagers. 

This excessive weight gained will put extra pressure on major organs of their bodies like the lungs, liver, and heart. 

Obesity can cause joint pain and injuries like recurring knee issues which can make kids and teens avoid physical activity which is also not advisable. 

This avoidance can worsen already present health conditions and impact their mental health negatively. 

Exercises for kids help them maintain a healthy weight. They burn more sugar and energy when playing thereby leading to a healthier weight. 

When energy stores are used up, they won’t accumulate and put stress on major organs or cause weight gain. 

This will also promote the mental and emotional health of kids by allowing them to participate in games and sports along with their peers. 

However, to enjoy all these benefits of exercise, children have to develop the habit of regular exercise early in life. 

How To Make Kids Interested In Exercise

Photo of kids cycling; one of the great exercise ideas for kids

Exercises for kids should be fun. Don’t call it a workout or make it look like a punishment, they might not like it. 

Train them to view exercise as “exercise play”. 

Then have gifts for them when they are done, it doesn’t have to be something big. It can be their favorite threat or food, just something to encourage them to look forward to exercising every day until it becomes a lifestyle for them. 

Also, to prevent injury, ensure that your kids warm up properly before exercising. Warm-ups include 5 to 10 minutes of light exercises like bending, walking, knee lifts, and stretching. 

An important factor regarding exercise is that the correct form is more important than speed. When your kids are familiar with these exercises, you can increase the speed at which they perform them. 

Indoor Exercises For Kids

Photo of kids playing soccer; one of the great exercise ideas for kids

It may be raining or snowing outside or the sun may be too hot, however, you want your little ones to exercise. Why not try these fun amazing indoor exercises for kids? 

1. Indoor ball games 

Indoor ball games have many benefits for children, some of the benefits are improvement in balance and coordination, aerobic exercise, and also, kids love any activity that involves the use of balls. 

Some examples of indoor ball games you can try that don’t even require a lot of space are: 

  • Throwing, kicking, or rolling a ball against the wall 
  • Catching balls with a plastic mixing bowl 
  • Hitting balls at a target with an object (kid-safe object) 
  • Tossing balls into the laundry baskets 

Other ideas of indoor ball games for kids are passing, rolling, and dribbling a ball back and forth between partners. 

Always provide a safe location for your kids to play indoor ball games, this helps in reducing accidents and other damages. Set their indoor playground away from breakable items. 

They can use a softball like a foam ball, squishy yoga ball, or even a bean bag to ensure that their indoor play is safe and free from injuries and damages. 

If they are using a hard or small ball, or your kids are still working on their coordination, you can get them protective gear.

2. Skipping 

This is a fun form of aerobic activity and it improves balance and coordination skills in children. 

Teach your kids these skipping games to improve their overall health. 

  • Skipping tag: This is a fun skipping game in which everyone skips to catch their opponent instead of running or walking. You can add variations to make it more interesting for them, they can skip on one foot or hop on all fours or just invent some other ways of moving that are kid-safe. 
  • Obstacle course: Simply set up an obstacle course with accessible items like chairs to skip around or a pot that they can skip over. Set a timer and have your kids beat their personal records. 
  • Jumping rope: have your kids jump rope for a timed session. Amp up the difficulty by telling them to go forward and back or you make it more competitive to see which child gets the most skips in a specific amount of time. 
  • Hopscotch: Set up a grid of numbered squares (hopscotch board) using masking tape (if you are indoor) or chalk (if you are outdoor). There are many ways they can play this game and despite the method of play, the aim of the game is to get the players to throw a small object (maybe a bean bag) into one of the squares. 

Then they try to skip, jump, or hop their way through the course without landing in that square in which their object fell in. 

3. Crab walk 

Apart from the health benefit of exercise for kids, crab walk will help kids build their core and arm strength and it is also a fun activity they will love. 

You start this exercise by teaching your kids how to perform this movement. Their torso and tummy will face up while their hands and feet will be on the ground with their legs bent at the knees. 

When they learned how to stay and walk this way, then you set up fun challenges for them to do in this pose. 

Some ideas you can try are: 

  • Race: have them run a race in this position and the winner gets a gift. They are to crab walk to the finish line. 
  • Obstacle course: Set up an obstacle course for your kids to navigate while crab walking. 
  • Balancing act: Have your kids stay in the crab walk position while you balance items on their tummy. It can be plastic cups or stuffed animals. 

Then tell them to crab walk while you see the person who can go the farthest without dropping the object. 

Another fun way of doing a crab walk is to see how many stuffed animals your kid can balance on their belly as they hold this pose. 

4. Bear crawl 

This is the opposite of crab walk, it is walking on all fours with your belly facing the floor. This is a good whole-body exercise for kids, it also challenges them to use their core and limbs. 

First, you have to teach your kids this movement. Have them practice it before you engage them in competitive games in this pose. 

When they’ve mastered the bear crawl, engage them in complicated games like racing to a certain location in the house and back while you wait to see the winner or you have them do an obstacle course. 

5. Squats and lunges 

These simple indoor exercises for kids help build leg strength and give them a good foundation for all kinds of fitness activities and sports. 

Teach them how to squats first and then you try the forward, side, and backward lunges. Turn this into a game by seeing how many squats or lunges your child can do in 30-second intervals while keeping proper form. 

Their knees should be kept in line with their feet and not bent too far. You can even incorporate jumps into their squat sequence by having them hop every time they stand up between repetitions. 

6. Sit-ups and push-ups 

Allow your kids to hit the floor for basic exercises that work their core. Sit-ups, push-ups, and planks can be done by kids, they can also do traditional abdominal crunches, legs up sit-ups, bicycle crunches, and more. 

Kids strengthen their upper bodies and core muscles in the abs and back when they learn how to do basic push-ups and planks. 

Incorporate these exercises into games to make them more enticing for them. This will also keep them engaged and help them have more fun. 

7. Yoga and stretching 

This is a fun and simple way for kids to exercise. Kid-friendly poses are the:

  • Tree pose 
  • Downward facing dog 
  • Upward facing dog 
  • Child’s pose 
  • Happy baby
  • Cobra 

Then have them follow this up with simple stretches for kids to keep their muscles strong and healthy. Simple stretches for kids are runner’s stretch, calf stretch, arms to the sky, arm circles, finger-to-toes, hamstring stretch, and side stretch. 

Outdoor Exercise For Kids

Photo of a mom walking with her kids; one of the great exercise ideas for kids

1. Running 

This is one of the simplest outdoor exercises kids can take part in. It is also perfect for kids’ need for speed and their seemingly endless energy. 

You can let them outside to run around the house. They can also run inside (around a large table) but you have to make the indoor space safe for such sport. 

They can run in a gym, down a hallway, in the playground, etc. 

Change things up for your kids while they are running by changing their movement patterns. They can skip or run in place with their feet very close to the ground. This is called “fast feet”.

Or they can run with high knees (they lift alternative knees towards the chest with each step) or they do “butt kicks” they kick alternative heels towards their buttocks with each step. 

You can also get them to change their direction like side-to-side or reverse. This will work for their muscles and brain and also improve their coordination. 

2. Jumping 

This is another interesting outdoor exercise kids love but it also is done indoors. 

Jumps help build muscle strength in children, it increases their endurance and promotes cardiovascular fitness. 

10 Fun Daily Exercise For Kids To Do At Home

Types of jumps you can teach your kids are: 

  • Criss-cross feet: The kids will jump straight up and then cross one foot in front of the other. On the next jump, they switch feet and continue. 
  • Hurdle hops: They jump side-to-side or front-to-back over a pretend hurdle 
  • Jumping jacks: They stretch their arms and legs out to the side like a starfish while jumping and on the second jump, they return arms to sides and legs to center on the landing. 
  • One-foot hops: They lift one knee up and jump on the standing leg. Then alternate. This is a great balance challenge too. 
  • Tuck jumps: They bend their knees and lift their heels high while jumping. 

3. Walking 

Walking in nature is a simple but highly beneficial exercise for kids and everyone. 

You can take your kids out for a one-hour walk either in the mornings or evenings when the heat of the sun is at its lowest. 

This improves all parts of their health and also improves their mental health. 

Playful Exercise For Kids

Photo of kids skiing; one of the great exercise ideas for kids

If you want to make exercise more fun for your kids, turn it into a game. Here are some ways to go about it. 

1. Corners 

Divide your kids into groups so that each group has a home corner which they call “Home”. Then have them run around the room in a circle, on your cue, they all return home and do a few easy exercises. 

Some of the exercises they can do are 5 jumping jacks or one 30 seconds plank. 

You can also allow your kids to decide what exercises they have to do in each corner. This will give them ownership of the game. 

2. Go back and hit it 

When you say “go”, your kids run forward in a designated lane. Then you say “back” and they run in the reverse. Finally, you say “hit it” and they incorporate another skill like the squat or a tuck jump. 

You can also give them ownership of the game by allowing them to choose their “hit it” skill. 

3. Squat relay

Tell your kids to line up on the opposite sides of the room and they should face each other. 

On your word “go”, all kids run toward the center of the room and meet in the middle. Then they do 3 squats and give each other a high 5 with both hands in between each rep. 

Then they return to the starting point and repeat. 

The focus of this exercise play for kids is on the high-fives and the social interaction. If you have a large group of kids, you can shift the lines sideways so that between reps, kids can meet a different friend in the middle of the room each time. 

4. Traffic 

This interesting playful exercise for kids will help them move more. You can also come up with more moves for them. 

During this play called traffic, the kids stop and start at green lights, they shuffle to the sides at yellow light, they do bunny hops at speed bumps, they link their elbows and run with a partner for a carpool, and they gallop when you give the cue “deer crossing”. 

This playful exercise is so flexible that you can easily come up with more moves. 

How Much Exercise Should My Kids Be Doing?

Photo of kids playing football; one of the great exercise ideas for kids

Children aged 5 to 18 years old can partake in aerobic exercises for at least one hour daily. This one hour should not be spread out during the day. 

Also, these exercises for kids have to be intense but the intensity should be appropriate for their age. Don’t allow them to exercise too hard. If not, they will not like exercise. 

For children less than 5 years of age, they need longer hours. Allow them to play for at least three hours every day but it can be split up throughout the day. 

You can help your child complete the 3 hours by letting him/her do 30 minutes of energetic physical exercise every hour. 

Conclusion

Exercises for kids are healthy and it helps them to carry on this healthy habit into their adulthood. Also check out other fun activities for kids that would help them burn some calories and keep fit.

Lily & The FBM Team
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