While physical activity is important for people of every age, it’s especially vital for children. Their developing years require a lot of physical and mental growth that is best supported by the right nutrition and exercise, which is why it’s so important to instill healthy habits from a young age.
It can be challenging to figure out how to encourage kids to get active, which is why we’re sharing ten fun and simple ideas for physical activities that you can do right now! We also discuss why it’s so important that children have physical activity, and how often they need to be active.
So read on to find out why, when, and how to get your children fit and active ASAP!
Why is physical activity important for children?
Physical activity can benefit children in so many ways. Clearly, the primary benefit of physical activity is that it can help improve children’s health. Exercise and movement strengthens everything from children’s bones and muscles, to even their heart and lungs. Over time, physical activity has been shown to improve their coordination, posture, flexibility, and balance.
It also plays an important role in helping children maintain a healthy weight. This reduces the risk of children developing heart disease, type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure, joint issues, breathing problems, and even some forms of cancer as they get older.
Children’s mental wellbeing can also be positively impacted by physical activity. Being active encourages a healthy body image and boosts children’s confidence in their abilities. Exercise has been known to boost the happy hormones in our bodies, which explains the feeling of joy that children get from just running around!
Physical activity can also help children improve social skills, particularly through activities that encourage teamwork and cooperation. It’s an important way to develop confidence in their communication and problem-solving skills.
Types of Physical Activity
When thinking of physical activity for kids, it’s really useful to think of the different levels of activity that children do in their day to day life. It’s more beneficial to have a balance of these types of activities every day, rather than just go gung-ho once a week and then sit on the couch all day for the rest of the week.
- Light physical activity
This includes any activity that requires movement but can be done without any strain. Examples include slowly walking to the bus stop or helping parents cook a meal.
- Moderate physical activity
These activities usually get children huffing and puffing a little bit! Examples include dancing, cycling, or even walking fast.
- Vigorous physical activity
When your children are sweating and huffing and puffing, then they’re doing a vigorous physical activity! This can include running games like chasey, or team sports like soccer and basketball.
- Strength developing activity
These are movements that isolate specific areas of the body, like jumping, climbing, running, and lifting.
- Energetic play
Children are naturally active creatures, particularly in their early years. This type of physical activity starts from when their babies (like when they kick their feet) to their childhood years (running after each other), all the way to when they’re approaching young adulthood (dancing to music).
How much physical activity should kids have?
For little babies under a year old, letting them have a lot of play time on the floor is a great way to encourage physical activity and prevent conditions like positional plagiocephaly. In general, half an hour of tummy time each day is good until they are able to sit up on their own.
From the time they’re a year old until they turn 5 years old, it’s recommended that they are active for at least three hours a day, which includes an hour of energetic play.
After that age, they should aim to do at least an hour of moderate to vigorous physical activities a day. This doesn’t include several hours of light physical activity each day as well. Three times a week, these activities should include a strength developing activity.
10 physical activity ideas for your kids
These games and activities aren’t just great for getting physical, they also happen to be great fun! These activities are a good example of activities that are appropriate for most ages, and they are a fantastic way to bond together as a family.
Remember, children do as you do and not as they’re told, so make sure that adults join in as well! It’s so important to lead by example, because children are a lot more receptive to the idea of physical activities if they see their parents do it too.
By the way, all of these can be done both indoors and outdoors, so you can get fit as a family in all seasons.
1. Scavenger hunt
Hide things around your house or yard, write out some clues to help your kids find them, and get them to race to find each clue! You could even sneak a little more exercise into this game by asking them to do animal movements or a funny dance before moving on to the next clue. Don’t forget to reward them with a small prize at the end!
2. Obstacle course
Use household items to create an obstacle course for your kiddos. Amp it up with fun music and cheering, just like your very own Australian Ninja Warrior show! Children can crawl under tables, hop over couches, and jump over piled up cushions. The options are endless, you just need to use your imagination.
3. Keep the balloon up
The name says it all – get your kids to throw a balloon around, and make sure it doesn’t touch the floor. Make it a little more challenging by allowing them to only use one part of their body for each round – it’s really funny when you can only use your nose to bop the balloon.
4. Fitness video games
This one’s for the gamers! Video games have a reputation for encouraging kids to be couch potatoes, but there are actually a lot of companies out there that have created games that will get people off the couch and moving! The best part is that these games are usually so much fun that kids – and their parents – won’t want to stop playing.
5. Clean up race
You can thank us later for this one. Get your kids to enjoy some physical activity while you enjoy some help with the housework! The next time your kids need to clean up their own mess, make a game out of it. Whether it’s a race to see who finishes first, or keeping score of who put away the most toys in a set amount of time, you’ll end up with healthier kids and a cleaner house. Can’t say no to that!
6. Nature walk
It’s amazing just how much nature provides for us, so this is a great way to encourage appreciation for the natural wonders of your local neighbourhood park or even hiking trail. Up the ante by getting your kids to climb over small hills and even running a short (and safe!) distance away. Make it even more fun by collecting different types of leaves and making artwork out of them when you get home.
7. Follow the leader
Kids are great at mimicking, so why not get them to copy you while you’re getting active? Start off with some simple movements like star jumps and squats, and you’ll be sure to pique their interest! Get them in on the game as well, and let them take turns with you being the leader. There’s nothing funnier than seeing mum and dad copy the silly moves they make up!
8. Dance party
This is our favourite way to while away the winter blues – put on some good music and groove away! Go with a freestyle dance session, or get them to copy some fun, repetitive dance moves like the chicken dance or the macarena. You could even learn some Tik Tok dances together.
9. The floor is lava
A classic game that is the favourite for most children, pretend the floor is lava and find creative ways to get around the house. You can even have official start and end points, and race each other to the finish line!
10. Animal race
A race is alway fun, but why not have a race with a bit of a twist? The rule with this game is: you must only use animal movements when you race! So hop like a kangaroo, flap your wings like a bird, and crawl like a kitty cat. Bonus points for making the right animal sounds too!
Have fun and get active!
Physical activity can be so fun and enriching for your children in many ways, so make sure you create opportunities to play these games with your kids every day.
Are you looking for ways to get active at the gym with your kids in tow? Here at Back To Basics 4 Life, we are passionate about creating a kid-friendly, family-centric environment.
Our gym includes a crèche section where your toddler and preschool aged kids can get active under our watchful eye while you work out! We also have classes for kids and teens, and we even run exercise programs at local schools.
Learn more about how we can help your kids get active by heading to our B2BFit 4 Kids page.