7 Fun Family Exercises for All AgesBy: Rachel Paula Abrahamson
There’s no question that it’s important for your kiddos to keep moving. Research has shown the huge benefits of exercising: children who exercise daily are more likely to be physically, mentally and emotionally healthier than their peers who do not. But of course, it can be a challenge to entice kids away from all their many digital entertainment options for some family exercise.
So how can you help your little ones get excited about moving? The good news is you don’t need any fancy equipment — just a few creative ideas. Here are seven fun family exercises to try for family time fitness.
Try a fitness scavenger hunt
Use plastic eggs — you can find them at a dollar store — to hide slips of paper with different actions written on them. Possible action ideas:
- Complete five burpees
- Do a crab walk around a tree
- Jog in one place for two minutes
You don’t need any fancy equipment — just a few creative ideas.
Try old-fashioned games
Introduce your littles to games such as Twister and jump rope. Twister is great for developing core and gross motor skills, while jumping rope improves coordination, cardiovascular fitness and focus.
Try high-intensity interval training
Michael Kazin, a physical education teacher in Great Neck, New York, loves high intensity interval training, or HIIT for short. The hallmark of HIIT is alternating fast bursts of intense work with periods of recovery. “For example, I’ll blast fun music and have the kids do 30 seconds of jumping jacks followed by 15 seconds of rest,” he said. “Then we’ll do 30 seconds of squats and 15 seconds of rest.” Kazin noted that HIIT workouts help build endurance, coordination and strength.
Try movement breaks
Encourage your kids to get moving during TV commercials. To make it more fun, write activity suggestions on popsicle sticks and have everybody choose one.
“I’ll blast fun music and have the kids do 30 seconds of jumping jacks followed by 15 seconds of rest.”
Try a nature walk
Research shows that outdoor time improves mental and physical health. You can play an “I spy” game or create a scavenger hunt that encourages children to use each of their five senses to find treasures. For example, for the sense of sound, kids could be encouraged to “find something that snaps.”
Try running games
The classic game “Red Light, Green Light” is a great way to keep children active and hone their listening skills. You also can make up your own games, Kazin said.
“I’m big into goal setting,” Kazin explained. “With my own kids I’ll say, ‘Let’s try to make it to the end of this block in 30 seconds.’ And then we’ll do it again and try to beat our time from the last round. It keeps them motivated.”
Try YouTube yoga
Yoga enhances physical flexibility, refines balance and coordination and strengthens the mind-body connection. It’s also an excellent tool for managing stress and anxiety. YouTube is a great source of yoga for children. The Cosmic Kids Yoga channel is a good place to start.