When it comes to keeping kids active, it's all about “exercises for kids.” which should be a type of “Play” As Ewunike Akpan, a certified personal trainer by the American Council on Exercise and associate manager for the mid-Atlantic region of BOKS (Build Our Kids' Success), puts it, let's ditch the idea of “working out” and embrace the concept of engaging “exercise play.”
BOKS, a school-based fitness program tailored for elementary and middle school children, revolves around one core principle: fun and games. Imagine kids arriving at school 45 minutes early, spending that time in exciting, active play. This innovative approach seamlessly integrates fitness into their daily routine, fostering both academic and behavioral improvements in school.1
In this guide, we're dishing out some fantastic exercise play suggestions for kids. The best part? No equipment or vast outdoor spaces are needed. These activities can be enjoyed in quick five to 10-minute bursts, or you can seamlessly string them together for a more extended playtime.
Getting Started: Warming Up Muscles and Hearts
Before diving into the excitement, it's crucial to prepare those little muscles and hearts for action. A few minutes of warm-up exercises will do the trick. Let's kick things off with some energizing warm-up routines to get those bodies ready for a fun-filled workout.
1. Jumping Jack Jamboree Start with a classic jumping jack session. Have the kids spread their arms and legs wide, then bring them back together while jumping. It's not just a cardio boost, but a joyful dance move too!
2. Silly Stretching Safari Transform stretching into a playful adventure. Encourage kids to mimic animals as they stretch. Can they stretch like a giraffe reaching for leaves or hop like a bunny in the meadow?
3. Twist and Shout Time Get those torsos twisting! Stand in a circle and have the kids twist their hips and arms in opposite directions. It's like a group dance party that warms up muscles and gets everyone giggling.
4. Marvelous Musical Statues Crank up the tunes and make freezing in place a game! When the music plays, kids dance around. When it stops, they freeze like statues. Add a dash of unpredictability to your warm-up routine.
These warm-up activities aren't just about loosening muscles. They're about setting the stage for a playfully active session that will leave the kids asking for more. So, let's get those bodies moving and grooving!
Physical Activity Guidelines for Energetic Kiddos
Before we jump into the whirlwind of exercise play, it's essential to have a compass to guide our journey. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has laid out some fantastic guidelines to keep our little adventurers on track.
Amp Up the Action: The CDC's Recommendations
For kids aged 6 to 17, the CDC sets the compass at a minimum of one hour of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per day. And guess what? We're not talking about one-dimensional workouts. The ideal mix includes both aerobic exercises and muscle-strengthening activities. Let's break it down:
1. Aerobic Adventures: Get those hearts pumping and those lungs working with activities like running, swimming, or even dancing like nobody's watching. These activities keep energy levels high and promote cardiovascular health.
2. Muscle Mavericks: Flex those muscles! Activities like climbing, push-ups, and games that involve hopping, skipping, or jumping play a significant role in building strong bones and muscles.
So, there you have it! A roadmap provided by the CDC to guide us in ensuring our young explorers get their daily dose of active fun. And remember, variety is the spice of life! Mixing up aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities adds zest to their exercise play routine.
1. Run Wild and Free
Ah, the exhilarating art of running—the ultimate celebration of boundless energy and the insatiable craving for speed! Kids are born sprinters, and it's high time we tap into their natural zest for life with the classic joy of running.
Unleash the Fleet-Footed Warriors: The Beauty of Running
Whether it's a sunlit park, a cozy hallway, or a makeshift racetrack around a grand table, the world becomes a playground for runners. Running is not just a physical activity; it's a journey that connects kids with their own pulsating vitality.
1. Run the World: Venture outdoors or dash indoors—the choice is yours! The thrill of running can be felt on various terrains. Zooming around a gym, dashing down a hallway, or conquering a racetrack—it's a symphony of laughter, speed, and pure joy.
2. Games of Dash and Dance: Unleash the magic of running through the corridors of imagination. Transform running into a relay race, igniting friendly competition and camaraderie. Combine it with other moves to create dynamic games that keep hearts racing and spirits soaring.
3. The Dance of Variety: Running isn't just about the straightforward sprint. Infuse creativity into their strides! Transition between running and skipping, or challenge their agility by practicing “fast feet” (running in place with nimble steps). Elevate the energy with high knees that greet the chest or playful “butt kicks” that say hello to the heels.
4. Twist, Turn, Triumph: Introduce the thrill of directional shifts! Sideways, backward—these twists not only sculpt muscles but also sharpen coordination. It's a dance that unites brain and body, enhancing their harmony.
So, let the kids experience the exhilaration of running—each step a heartbeat of adventure, each sprint a testament to their spirited souls. It's not just a run; it's a symphony of laughter, speed, and pure, unbridled joy.
2. The Magic of Jumping
Picture this: feet off the ground, hearts racing, and spirits soaring like never before. It's time to lift off with the magnificent art of jumping—a captivating exercise that's all about strength, endurance, and soaring camaraderie.
Taking Flight: The Marvel of Jumping
Jumping isn't just about those breathtaking moments of mid-air suspension; it's a celebration of power and vitality. With every jump, muscles strengthen, cardiovascular fitness surges, and endurance gets a friendly nudge.
1. Friendly Foes in the Air: Who doesn't adore a friendly jumping rivalry? Whether against a buddy, a sibling, or even a grown-up, the race to the highest leap promises giggles, competition, and shared triumphs.
2. A Symphony of Jumps: Prepare for a symphony of dynamic jumps that infuse life into exercise play.
3. Tuck and Takeoff: Brace for the tuck jump, a gravity-defying spectacle! Bend those knees and soar with lifted heels. It's a burst of energy that adds a touch of excitement to each jump.
So, let's honor the art of jumping—each leap a testament to strength, every jump a brushstroke of vibrancy. It's not just about elevating off the ground; it's about soaring to new heights of delight and vitality.
3. Game On! Infuse Fun into Fitness
Exercise becomes pure magic when it's wrapped in the enchantment of games. Let's sprinkle a dash of playfulness into their active routines with exhilarating exercise games. Thanks to the ingenious suggestions from Akpan, it's time for exercise to transform into an adventure!
1. Corner Carnival: Embark on a journey across corners! Assign each child a home corner, and as they sprint around the room, await your cue. With a nod from you, they race back to their “home” and indulge in a mini-workout. Jumping jacks or a 30-second plank, perhaps? To add a touch of autonomy, let the kids choose the exercises in each corner—empowerment and exercise, all in one!
2. Go Back and Hit It: Ready, set, go! Propel forward in lanes, and when you command “back,” reverse course. The magic happens with “hit it!”—a cue to perform an extra move, whether it's a tuck jump or a squat. But the charm doesn't end there! Let the kids decide on the “hit it” skill, letting their imagination soar as high as their leaps.
3. Squat Relay: Line up, face-to-face, in the room's expanse. As the signal goes off, converge in the center and enjoy three squats while sharing high-fives. Return to the starting line and repeat. The essence? High-fives and social connections that blend seamlessly with physical play. For larger groups, shift lines sideways between rounds to meet new friends at the center each time.
4. Traffic Tales: Embark on a colorful journey akin to a road trip! Embrace a BOKS twist on “Red Light, Green Light,” where red and green lights dictate movement, and yellow lights entail shuffling. Bunny hops for speed bumps, linking elbows for a “carpool,” and galloping for “deer crossing”—let imagination take the wheel!
4. Ball Bonanza – Playful Energy Unleashed
Roll, bounce, toss—the world of ball games is an enchanting realm where energy transforms into laughter, and movement into camaraderie. Dive into a world that combines aerobic exercise, balance, coordination, and endless fun.
1. Indoor Ball Bliss: The indoors become a playground of possibility! Toss balls into laundry baskets, test aim by hitting targets with everyday objects, or catch balls using plastic mixing bowls. Walls transform into playmates as kids throw, roll, and kick balls with joy.
2. Endless Versatility: Ball games grant an arena of versatility. Dribble, pass, and roll with a partner—a dance of coordination and cooperation that keeps spirits high.
3. Safety First: Prioritize safety by choosing appropriate balls—soft ones like squishy yoga balls or foam balls. For those still honing coordination, proper protective gear is essential. And of course, choose a play space with a safe distance from delicate objects.
Ball games aren't just about exercise; they're about friendship, laughter, and the joy of play. Let's celebrate the magic of movement with every bounce, every toss—a symphony of joy that echoes through the heart.
5. Skip to the Beat – The Joy of Skipping
Skip to a rhythm that echoes laughter and exhilaration! Skipping isn't just about moving forward; it's a dance of aerobic joy that spins balance and coordination into the mix.
1. Dance of Skips and Hops: Discover a medley of skipping games that infuse exercise with unadulterated delight.
2. Conquer the Obstacles: Ready for an obstacle course extravaganza? Construct a playful track using accessible items like chairs and pots. Set the clock ticking and watch as kids beat their own records, mastering each hurdle with laughter and determination.
3. Skipping Tag: Transform tag into a skipping spectacle! Instead of running, skip your way to victory. For a twist, introduce hopping on one foot, going all fours, or any other imaginative form of movement.
6. Crab Crawl – A Marvel of Core and Fun
Unleash the power of the crab crawl—a joyful movement that not only ignites laughter but also nurtures core and arm strength.
1. The Delightful Challenge: Introduce the crab crawl with a flourish. Teach kids the pose—upright torso, tummy facing the sky, and movement using hands and feet on the ground with knees bent. Now, let's dive into the magical challenges this pose brings.
2. Obstacle Odyssey: Craft an obstacle course that pairs perfectly with the crab crawl. Let kids navigate the course with the elegance of crabs, celebrating every victory with contagious laughter.
3. The Great Race: Ready, set, crab crawl to victory! Line up and embark on a race that's a symphony of laughter, a dance of movement, and a showcase of strength.
7. Bear Crawl – Unleash the Beast Within
Prepare to go on all fours and unleash the magic of the bear crawl—a whole-body journey that summons core strength and tests limbs with a delightful challenge.
1. Dance of Paws and Power: Begin with the fundamentals—teach kids the bear crawl stance, a mesmerizing belly-down posture. From there, let's weave this movement into captivating games that combine fun with fitness.
So, let's embrace skipping, crab crawling, and bear crawling—each movement a vibrant testament to strength, joy, and the unbreakable bond between play and exercise.
8. Squats and Lunges – Building Strong Foundations
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the realm of strength and stability—where squats and lunges reign supreme. These simple yet powerful exercises lay the groundwork for a world of sports and fitness prowess.
1. Mighty Leg Builders: Prepare for leg-day extravagance! Squats and lunges build leg strength that sets the stage for various sports and active adventures.
2. Jump into Action: Add zest to squats by incorporating jumps! Each leap adds an extra layer of excitement as kids spring to their feet between repetitions.
9. Core Strength Unleashed – Sit-Ups and Push-Ups
Get ready to hit the floor and ignite core strength with sit-ups, push-ups, and planks—an exercise trio that unlocks the power within.
1. Core Carnival: The floor becomes an arena of strength and vitality. Kids dive into a repertoire of sit-ups—traditional crunches, bicycle crunches, and legs-up sit-ups. Each movement celebrates the strength pulsating within.
2. Game On: Elevate the excitement with game-infused exercise! Incorporate sit-ups, push-ups, and planks into circuits, races, and other playful activities that keep kids engaged, motivated, and above all, having a blast.
10. Yoga and Stretching – A Dance of Flexibility
Prepare to embrace the grace of yoga poses and the magic of stretching. This duo not only keeps muscles agile but also nurtures a sense of tranquility and balance.
1. Yoga Marvels: Introduce kids to a world of yoga wonder. From Tree Pose to Downward-Facing Dog, each pose is a journey into flexibility, balance, and inner calm.
2. Stretching Symphony: Let the stretching commence! Guide kids through side stretches, hamstring stretches, arm circles, and more. This symphony of movements keeps muscles strong, flexible, and ready for action.
3. The Tranquil Transition: As the workout winds down, lead them through a cooling-down sequence. Not only does this prevent injuries, but it also transitions their bodies into a state of relaxation, post-workout.
And there you have it—the final steps of our exercise adventure! From skipping to squats, from core strength to yoga grace, each movement is a step toward vitality, laughter, and the magic of active play.
Final Thoughts on Exercises For Kids…
And there you have it—our journey through the world of exercise play for kids is coming to a close. We've hopped, skipped, jumped, crawled, and danced through a symphony of movement and laughter. With each stretch, each squat, and every leap, we've uncovered the magic of blending fitness with unadulterated fun.
Exercise play isn't just about physical benefits; it's a celebration of the boundless energy, the curiosity, and the vivacity that define childhood. As parents and guardians, we hold the keys to nurturing their bodies and spirits in ways that shape them into confident, strong, and joyful individuals.
Remember, it's not just about counting reps or tracking steps—it's about celebrating the joy of movement, the camaraderie of play, and the thrill of discovery. Each leap and twist is a step towards a healthier tomorrow, where our young explorers build strength, resilience, and an unwavering sense of adventure.
So, as you embark on your exercise play journey with your little ones, keep the laughter flowing, the games evolving, and the memories blooming. Let's raise a toast to a world where fitness is fused with playfulness, and where every step they take is a leap towards a brighter, more vibrant future.
Here's to their endless energy, to their laughter that echoes through the air, and to the boundless possibilities that unfold with every skip, hop, and jump. Let's keep the magic alive, one playful movement at a time!
With hearts full of joy and gratitude, let's continue to inspire, empower, and cherish the vitality that resides within every child.
Contributor at Trendingkidstuff.com
Andrew Habeeb, a mastermind in child development and nutrition, contributes his insights and knowledge to trendingkidstuff.com. Holding a master’s degree in his field, Andrew’s passion transcends professional boundaries as he often finds solace in the waves, surfing, or pushing his limits at the local gym. His love for the ocean and fitness shapes his vibrant personality, a reflection of which can be found in the engaging and informative pieces he authors. Andrew’s unique blend of expertise and hobbies provides him with an intuitive understanding of children, infusing his work with practicality and a touch of fun.