It’s no secret that kids should practice healthy habits—eat their broccoli, floss their teeth and go to bed on time. That’s one of the reasons you, as the parent, are around: to help guide your children through life and make sure they are able to live it to the fullest (and healthiest!)
It may come as a shock to you but in 2012, more than one-third of children and adolescents were considered obese, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. If the current movement toward childhood obesity remains steady, more than 70 million kids are projected to be obese by 2025!
"Not only is physical activity integral to a child's physical health, but it is also critical for their mental health."
With stats like those, it’s hard to argue with the fact that children need more health parameters than just an 8:00 p.m. bedtime. It’s important that kids eat healthy, but it’s also important that they are exercising on a regular basis as well.
“Not only is physical activity integral to a child’s physical health, but it is also critical for their mental health,” says Mary Muhs, Dean of the Rasmussen College School of Education. She explains that physical activity pumps blood through the body and provide energy for thinking and creating, which leads to increased performance in the classroom.
So how can you get those kiddos up and about? Keep reading for some entertaining ideas.
15 fun fitness activities for kids
Getting kids to “work out” can be challenging. But there’s no need to stick to run-of-the-mill, boring exercises like jumping jacks, push-ups and sprints. We put together a list of some fun and creative fitness activities for kids that will get them moving in no time at all.
1. Go on a bear huntDid you ever sing the classic bonfire song at summer camp, “I’m Going on a Bear Hunt”? While this song can easily be sung while sitting on a tree stump at camp, there’s also opportunity to make the whole song more active. Act out the different motions: swim across the lake, climb up the tree and stomp over the bridge. This activity gets especially entertaining when you’re scurrying away from the bear at the end.
2. Play follow the leader
This classic game never gets old, and you don’t need any equipment to play. Let your kiddos take turns being the leader, directing the others to match their every move. Encourage them to get active by hopping, skipping, crawling, shuffling and using their imaginations.
3. Have a dance party
Pop in your favorite tunes, crank up the volume and get moving and grooving! For extra fun, kill the lights and turn on some fun lighting, like a disco ball or some lava lamps. Kids can compete for best dance move, or you can simply make up a dance to an entire song.
4. Create a scavenger hunt
Hide things all over the backyard or throughout the house and have kids race to find each clue. If you want to sneak even more exercise into this activity, include requirements with each clue, like “Do four cartwheels before moving on,” or “Make up a funny dance.” This activity is fun because it can be elaborate and long or short and sweet.
5. Use a Wii Fit
What a wonderful world of technology we live in today. Instead of letting your kids sit for hours in front of the television playing video games, leverage that love for technology and get them going with a Wii Fit game! There are all sorts of fun and active kids’ games out there such as Just Dance Kids, Nickelodeon Fit and many more!
6. Draw a maze on the driveway
Chalk can help you create beautiful masterpieces, but it can also assist in some fun fitness activities. Draw an elaborate, detailed maze all over the driveway, then let your little ones run (or race) through it! This activity encourages fitness and creativity at the same time!
7. Animal walks
Use your imaginations to come up with different types of animal walks! Imitate bears walking, or run fast like a cheetah. Waddle like a penguin, or pretend to swim through the ocean like a dolphin.
8. Sock skating
If you have hard surfaces in your house, put on some socks and slide around. Kids can practice spinning and seeing who can slide the farthest. Pretend you are professional ice skaters in the middle of a frozen pond in the winter. Be careful of corners, however, and watch for splinters!
9. Have pillow fight
It’s an age-old activity, and pretty much every little kid’s dream! We recommend using pillows other than the feather-filled versions, unless you enjoy having a house covered in feathers.
10. Make an obstacle course
Using couch cushions, pots and pans, and plenty of other household objects, construct an engaging and challenging obstacle course. Kids can climb under blankets stretched between the couch and coffee table, or they can somersault across the living room. Take this kind of play outside if you want more room to move around.
11. Push mom over
Stand firmly on the ground and see if your kids can push you over! This works best if you have little kids—otherwise, you might actually get pummeled. This exercise inevitably ends in giggles as kids push and pull, trying to budge you from your iron stance.
12. Wheelbarrow or crab walk races
These tough, yet funny positions are both fun to attempt and hilarious to watch. Have kids race from one end of the yard to another, or time a pair to see how long it takes them to wheelbarrow around the house three times.
13. Clean-up race
What could be better than fun exercises for kids that benefit both their bodies and your house? Pick a room or assign the whole house and see which kid can clean up the most. This exercise is practical enough that you could employ a “clean-up race” in your kids’ rooms every day.
14. Go for a hike or nature walk
Who says walking long distances has to be boring? Pick a scenic trail, strap on your hiking boots and explore the outdoors! If you don’t live in a mountainous area, go for a nature walk in a park, by a pond, or in the woods and investigate the landscape. Do a little research beforehand, and the exercise doubles as an academic lesson.
15. Red light, green light
It’s an oldie, but a goody! Play the “red light, green light” game in the backyard, and help kids exercise and learn about following directions. Add color visuals by making a red or green sign to help children learn about color as well!
It’s time to get movin’
Now you know that exercise doesn’t have to be boring. Start implementing these ideas into your child’s routine and emphasize the importance of being active. These activities may seem silly, but you’ll start laying the groundwork for a healthy, happy life.
“By keeping active, even in the simplest ways, children can support each part of their body and their brain for optimum learning and growth,” Muhs says.
Your concern for your own kids’ well-being may be a sign you should direct your passion towards other children. Here are 9 other signs that you should be teaching preschool!