From early on, encouraging kids to be active is beneficial to their health. This can be easier said than done, though – which is why it’s also important for parents to share some easy exercises for kids that are just pure fun to do.
Whether it’s as simple as running a race, doing jumping jacks or trying classic playground games, there are plenty of ways to make exercises entertaining for kids. And most of them can be done right at home, whatever the weather.
Lisa Pecoraro, a physical education teacher with Violet Elementary School in St. Clair Shores, has some great ideas to get your kids moving. She incorporates music in her classes, which she says her young students find more enjoyable.
Her list of easy exercises for kids require little to no equipment and can be done with a group or just one or two people.
1. Jumping rope
“Jump rope to music and compete with one another to see who can get more jumps,” says Pecoraro. “You can even learn new tricks by going on YouTube.”
She adds, “If you have a long rope and three to four people, you can try to touch the ground while jumping, play hot potato, turn in a circle, clap your hands and have the turners spin the rope faster and faster.”
2. Dance party
Dancing is a great way to get the body moving. Let your kids pull together a playlist of their favorite high-energy songs so they’re extra invested in those tunes.
“Kids can make up their own moves that everyone has to do and the next person can add on a move – without repeating any that were done before,” says Pecoraro.
“They can even incorporate a limbo stick or hula hoops” and create games “in which whoever hula hoops the longest or to the whole song, wins.”
“Relay races don’t have to have any equipment,” Pecoraro explains. “One person runs to the line and then runs back and high-fives the other person.”
Or try using some equipment like a balls, balloons or homemade hurdles.
“They can put a ball or balloon between their legs and run like that,” she says. “Or, if they don’t have anything like that, they can run with their hands on the knees.”
You can even race around and do a scavenger hunt, combining two easy exercises for kids into one.
“This helps them to work on problem solving and cooperation,” she says. It may be a lot of preparation for the parents, but you can place things in areas that will make kids have to climb or jump to make it more action oriented.
4. Playing tag
There are many different types of ways to make the game of tag fun and exciting.
“There’s freeze tag, stuck in the mud, bridge tag – or you can incorporate exercises in the game,” Pecoraro says. “If the person gets tagged,” for example, “they have to go do their favorite exercise or go shoot a basket or jump rope so many times.”
5. Tumbling and balancing
“Everyone can do a type of roll – whether it’s a forward or backward roll, egg roll, straddle roll or a log roll,” says Pecoraro. “Or it can be a transfer of weight like a cartwheel, donkey kick, yoga poses, headstand or handstand, backbend or even a front flip, if they can do it.”
6. Follow the leader
“The leader has to do an exercise for 30 seconds,” she says. “Then another person is the leader and has to do another exercise and cannot repeat one that has already been done. It’s so funny to do with little ones.”
The more energetic the move, the better the exercise. Consider weaving in stomping, jumping and squatting, too.
7. Playground course
Try creating a relay race course out of pretty much anything on-site at local playgrounds and play structures, which are great picks for all sorts of easy exercises for kids.
“You can go up or down the slide, under the swing, across or over the monkey bars or maybe even add small exercises in there – like five jumping jacks,” Pecoraro says.
8. Using chalk
Chalk may not seem like an exercise, but you can use it for games that will either have you working on your balance or jumping skills.
“Hopscotch can practice their formation,” says Pecoraro. “If they’re little, they can draw their own hopscotch with chalk or play the game and practice skipping over the number their rock lands on.”
Or, she suggests, “Draw circles all over and jump in and out of them with music playing. Once the music stops, the last one in the circle is out – kind of like musical chairs.”
9. Using the weather
“In the winter, it could be bundling up and taking your pet for a walk, going sledding or building snow forts or snowmen and snowwomen,” Pecoraro says. “Or it could be raking leaves and jumping in them in the fall or helping your parents plant flowers in the spring.
“You can set up a slip-and-slide obstacle course in the summer and incorporate other exercises into it,” she continues, “like running around the tree three times – or run to the sidewalk, do 10 marches and then go run through the sprinkler.”
10. Be creative
In her classes, Pecoraro gives the kids guidelines for the unit they’re working on or a type of exercise. From there “I tell them to be creative,” she says. “I encourage them to come up with their own ideas, and I love to see what they come up with.”