Children's Exercise Guide: Fun Indoor Exercises for Kids

Games you and your babysitter can do with kids that will boost their heart rate, keep them entertained and inspire healthy habits.

It's snowing outside - again. With little ones - or big ones -- stuck inside and feeling trapped, it's easy to resort to TV and video games to pass the time. But after too much Mickey Mouse and not enough movement those young bodies will only gain weight and lose muscle.

What can you do? How do you stimulate your children to exercise - to move - indoors? Whether you or your nanny are home with your kids, it's important that one of you is getting everyone off the couch and elevating heart rates - while still giggling and having fun, of course.

"The importance of exercise for youth should not be understated, says Dr. David Bernhardt who specializes in primary care sports medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. "Rather than getting your youngsters involved in a lot of structured sports, the focus should be on a variety of free play activities both in the home, and outdoors," he adds.

Indoors or out, making exercise fun can excite children to move around and get them physically vital, stronger and more energetic. It's a great first step on the road to cultivating a lifetime of health and fitness.

We've created four exercise activities that parents can use to entice their children to run, jump, push, pull, play, dance, balance, stretch, and let rip a little, bringing fresh blood to their muscles, looseness to their limbs, and alertness to their brains.

But first, why should children exercise? In a nutshell: By developing in your children a love of movement when they're young, you are setting them up to be stronger, healthier, and disease-free when they're older.

Read this guide for the exciting physical and mental benefits of exercise, as well as fun, playful heart-pounding indoor games you can create for kids of all ages.

Note: The National Association for Sport and Physical Education has guidelines for the amount of daily exercise children aged 1 - 12 should receive, and these are listed for each age group. It's important to keep in mind that these are only recommendations, that all body movement is good, and a burst of 10 or 15 minutes of exercise is worthy. The goal of the following activities is not to develop athleticism or foster competition. It's simply to help instill in your children a love of movement and show them that exercise can be fun.

And remember, have a water bottle nearby so they can drink during the activities.

Author, ANNE ETRA is a writer and fitness professional with a passion for fitness at every age. She has taught and trained people aged 8-92, which allows her to consider optimum ways to grow strong when you're young and stay strong as you get older. Learn more about Anne.

Next: Why Kids Need Exercise »
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Comments (5)
Photo of Shante S.
Shante S.
I usually play a hide and seek as well then a few games I learned in high school when I mentored the underclassmen, called the trail. You would get 12 sheets of paper and mark spots on the sheet and guide the kids across the sheets of paper.
Posted: February 13, 2013 at 12:54 AM
Photo of Teresa E.
Teresa E.
When working with children, you learn to improvise quite often. When I worked at a school age center, even in the art/science room, you found activities to get the children motivated. For one hour every day, I would hold some sort of exercise activity. Even with a gym for the children to go to, it was always good to have other forms of physical excercise outlets. Sometimes we would play musical chairs, limbo, have freeze dances, and hot potato games. In addition to learning to build volcanos, geysers, learning about parallel lines and how to make puppets, I tried to get the children motivated in creating their own exercise games. This allowed them to use not only their bodies from the exercise, but also their cognitive and thinking skills to set their exercise plan in motion. In addition, they also built teamwork skills establishing their plans.

Both PBS/kids and TLC have great activities that you can use to get your charges motivated.
Posted: February 25, 2012 at 10:35 AM
Photo of Serena S.
Serena S.
I usaually find some fun arts & craft activites to do with the kids, from my exprience they really enjoy it. I also try to make it a learning enviroment for them so they are learing new things as well as having fun. Its also great to come up with some good clean up games that way they learn how to pick up after themselves and still are entertained, it helps the parents out A LOT! I have resontily found a fun activite that is a sience project and a craft all you need is (salt,glue,water, and food coloring) you let the kids draw a picture with the glue on construction paper then you take the salt and put lots of it on the glue drawing, after that you take the different colors of food coloring add them to water and with a eye dropper put the different colors all over the picture and as the colors run down the salt it make a fun, and colorful project.
Posted: February 10, 2012 at 8:47 PM
Photo of Krystal R.
Krystal R.
Usually when i am with kids i like to do what they want to do and then at certain times we play hide n seek if the house is able to hide in and also Simon says. If anyone has any idea's you should tell me!
Posted: January 25, 2012 at 8:54 PM
bro b
Well-written, insightful; very much the trainer in form.
Posted: January 25, 2012 at 5:55 AM
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