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Family Health

The Best Exercises for Kids: 7 Fun and Creative Ways to Get Moving

Finding the best exercises for kids means finding activities that get them moving without feeling like a chore. Exercise should be fun and something they look forward to so they grow up thinking of fitness as enjoyable. Sure, you could line them up and make them do calisthenics every morning, but would you have enjoyed that? There are plenty of ways to move around that are fun, and play is an important part of a child's development -- it's good for grownups as well!

During school sessions, kids often get opportunities to exercise during physical education classes and recess, but it can be hard to make sure they're moving their bodies enough during school breaks. For many kids, breaks between school terms become extended periods of screen time. So how do you get the kids moving? Here are a few ideas.

1. Living Room Dance Party

This family activity is a great way to get some exercise and share music as a family. Set up a few dance music playlists that mix your music and whatever new hits your kids are listening to, and when the need arises, press play and get dancing. Sometimes just one song is enough, but you might find yourself dancing for a while once you get started. In addition to being a wonderful way to get moving, the act of dancing will lift your mood.

2. Air Guitar

Anyone who came of age in the 80s knows that a good air guitar performance is a great workout. Again, this is a wonderful opportunity for family members to share their musical interests with each other, so it's not just fun exercise -- it's family bonding time as well. Put on some classic rock and show your kids how to shred.

3. Balloon Volley

The game is simple: You just have to keep an inflated balloon from touching the ground. It doesn't sound exciting, but kids love it. This game is not appropriate for every home, depending on how many fragile items or sharp edges populate your living spaces, so it's a good idea to establish boundaries for this game.

4. Living Room Fort

The act of working together to build a fort using chairs, couch cushions, blankets, and pillows requires a good amount of physical activity, but your kids will never feel like they're exercising. Even better, once the fort is built, the kids can play in it or read with flashlights for a while. Then, more energy is expended when they take the fort down, fold up the blankets, and put everything away.

5. Twister

While this classic game doesn't involve a lot of running around, the act of holding these poses for long periods helps kids build strength. The mat and spinner can be used indoors or outdoors, so this game is appropriate for all seasons.

6. Exercise Videos and Games

Many exercise videos are geared toward kids, and they're a fun, engaging way to get some exercise. Additionally, there are a number of different exercise games available, such as Dance Dance Revolution, that provide an excellent opportunity for exercise and allow kids to spend their screen time in a healthier way.

7. Creative Outdoor Activities

It's always important to get kids outside and in the fresh air. If you don't have your own backyard, there are still many options available to you. Try these:

  • Make a plan to tour the local parks in your city. Look up a list of city parks, and each weekend explore a different one.
  • Stand outside your front door and blow bubbles. Kids love chasing bubbles.
  • When you have high-contrast shadows, play games where you try to stomp on each other's shadow. It's a fun variation on tag.
  • Look up your local community centers to find out what kind of activities they have available. Many offer a few selections at a low cost or for no cost at all.

Getting enough exercise is important for good physical and mental health. To help kids develop a healthy attitude about exercise, the most important aspect of finding the best exercises for kids is finding a way to make physical activity fun.

Posted in Family Health

Judy Schwartz Haley is a freelance writer and blogger. She grew up in Alaska and now makes her home in Seattle with her husband and young daughter. Judy battled breast cancer when her daughter was an infant, and now she devotes much of her free time to volunteering as a state leader with the Young Survival Coalition, which supports young women with breast cancer.

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*This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute health care advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or physician before making health care decisions.