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An Introduction to Fun Indoor Exercises for Kids

In this introduction, we'll explain how you and your babysitter or nanny can use this guide to instill healthy habits in your child early on.

Image via Unsplash.com/Kelly Sikkema

We all know how important outdoor exercise is for children. With so many entertainment options available nowadays, it’s understandable that our kids would rather watch TV and play video games than run around outside. But, after too much Mickey Mouse and not enough movement, those young bodies will only gain weight and lose muscle.

"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."

The key here is to make exercise fun. By doing this, you 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.

That said, when the sun's shining and the temperature's just right, this is a pretty easy task. But, what happens when the weather takes a turn for the worse and you're stuck indoors?

When in Doubt (or Inside), Get Creative With the Exercises

Whether it's you, your nanny , or your babysitter who's home with the kids, it's important that at least one of you gets everyone off the couch and elevates those little heart rates -- while still giggling and having fun, of course!

[RELATED: " 101 Indoor Games and Activities for Kids"]

"Indoor exercises kids tend to enjoy are planks or a downward dog position or backward bends," said Ty Kain, who teaches athletics at Global Village Academy in Colorado. "Kids also love to jump rope or perform an exercise to get back into a game."

Experts also told us that utilizing down time is a good way to sneak exercise into a kid's day.

"I always recommend that children 'commercial-cize' where they exercise during commercial breaks. Every time a commercial comes on the TV, they can do pushups, jumping jacks or jumping rope, " said Len Saunders, an author, teacher and exercise physiologist. He organizes national fitness initiatives such as Project ACES each year, where millions of children exercise simultaneously each May.

"These are all great suggestions," you might be thinking. "But what else can I have them do when they get bored with these?"

Enter: Our "Guide to Children's Exercise."

How This Guide Can Help You

We've created a series of "exercise guides" that will cover all of the important information you need to know. First, we'll walk you through the specific physical and mental benefits of exercise. Then, we'll provide you with a number of fun, playful heart-pounding indoor games that 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 to 12 should receive, and we’ve listed those guidelines 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 still worthy and helpful. 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 stay hydrated.

Without further ado, let's get started! Take a look at our index below and you'll find a link to the next article in our series: "Why Kids Need Exercise."


Originally written by Anne Etra. Updated by Jerriann Sullivan on June 15, 2017.

* This article is for general informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be providing medical advice and is not a substitute for such advice. The reader should always consult a health care provider concerning any medical condition or treatment plan. Neither Care.com nor the author assumes any responsibility or liability with respect to use of any information contained herein.

Feb. 12, 2013

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.

Feb. 25, 2012

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.

Feb. 10, 2012

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.

Jan. 25, 2012

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!

Jan. 25, 2012

Well-written, insightful; very much the trainer in form.

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