Right now, many parents are working from home while their kids engage in distance learning or enjoy time off of school. This situation can be challenging, with some kids using the lack of structure as an excuse to excessively snack and overload on TV shows and video games. You might find yourself wondering how to get the kids off the couch.
It's important to keep kids exercising and not let them spend all day looking at a screen. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, too much screen time contributes to sleep problems and obesity in children and adolescents. The Centers for Disease Control also recommends all school-aged children engage in moderate-to-vigorous exercise for at least 60 minutes each day.
Daily exercise protects against obesity, diabetes, and other illnesses while building what can become life-long health habits. To keep your family healthy and active while everyone's at home, try out these 10 quarantine exercise ideas for kids. All of them can be done inside the home or in the yard, and none require special workout equipment.
1. Relay Race
Running is a full-body workout and one of the quickest ways to get a kid's heart rate up. Since running laps can be boring, create a relay race!
A fun relay race gives kids a reason to run back and forth across the room or yard. To increase motivation, have siblings compete against each other or time your child's running, so they can compete against their own personal high score.
Make the relay race more fun by having your child:
- Balance something on a spoon as they walk or run, and start over if it falls off
- Move across the space in ways other than running, such as lunge-walking, crawling, hula hooping, or somersaulting
- Pick small items (marbles, pennies, etc.) out of a bowl at one end of the race and drop them in a bowl at the other end, one-by-one
2. Scavenger Hunt
Turn a scavenger hunt into a race activity. Your kids will become so caught up in the game, they won't even realize they're exercising!
Create a list of items your kids must find and bring to a designated "home base." The catch is, they must touch home base after finding each item. Once they've gathered all of the items, have them race to put each item back in its place, one at a time. Here are example indoor scavenger hunt items:
- Roll of toilet paper
If you hold the scavenger hunt outdoors, change the rules a little so the kids don't have to collect objects. Instead, have them run and touch an item, run back to home base, then run and touch the next item. Here are example outdoor scavenger hunt items:
- An oak tree
- A flower
- The front door
- A shed
- A fire hydrant
- A garden hose
3. Obstacle Course
Create an obstacle course or, better yet, challenge your kids to create their own obstacle course.
An obstacle course presents a series of challenges that require kids to engage in different movements before they can move on to the next obstacle. Most kids have done an outdoor obstacle course at school and are already familiar with the general concept. With a little ingenuity, you can create an indoor obstacle course for them at home.
An indoor obstacle course might include:
- Running up and down a flight of stairs
- Crawling under chairs or other furniture
- Doing a handstand against the wall
- Throwing bean bags or other small toys into a basket
- Jumping from one marked spot on the floor to another
4. Agility Training
Athletes in football, soccer, and basketball commonly engage in agility training to increase their performance. Agility training improves speed, balance, and motor skills while giving an intense cardio workout. Plus, you can do it with only a few marks on the floor!
If outdoors, you can use sidewalk chalk on concrete or cones in the grass. Inside, use masking tape or string to create lines on the floor. Here are a few simple agility training exercises your kids can try at home.
Knee-high running is often done with an agility ladder, which is a rope or fabric ladder that lies flat on the floor. If you don't have one, use another method to place several lines on the floor or ground, with about a foot of space between each of them.
The challenge is to "run" across the stretch of lines as fast as possible. The catch is, your kid must step inside each space, so their steps will be closer together than they are in a normal stride. Also, with each step, they must lift a knee up as high as they can. It might feel (and look) a little funny, but it's a great workout!
Create the shape of an "X" on the floor or ground using tape, chalk, rope, or something else. Have your child jump from one section of the X to another with their feet together. Come up with different jumping patterns and encourage them to come up with patterns as well.
5. Push-ups and Crunches
Push-ups and crunches are common in physical education classes, so your kids might already be familiar with them. These exercises build strength and, when done in quick succession, create a cardio workout as well.
To make push-ups and crunches more fun, turn on some music. Ask kids to do 10 of one exercise, then 10 of the other, repeatedly until the song ends. Try making it into a family challenge. Who can do the most push-ups before they have to stop? Who can do the most crunches in one minute?
Push-ups and crunches are also a metric you can use to gauge where your child stands in terms of age-appropriate fitness. Push-ups and curl-ups, which are similar to crunches but involve sitting all the way up, are both parts of the Presidential Youth Fitness Program, which students across America participate in every year.
6. Squats and Lunges
Bodyweight exercises aren't only for adults! They provide strength training without putting excess strain on your child's joints as free weights might.
Squats and lunges strengthen the lower body and core. Teach your kids to do them with a straight back and head facing forward. As they squat or lunge, their knees shouldn't extend beyond their ankles.
To mix things up, integrate squats and lunges into relay races, scavenger hunts, obstacle courses, and agility training. A quick set of five to 10 squats or lunges can be required before or after other exercise activities. For example, require a set after your child completes a relay round or returns a scavenger hunt item to home base.
Stretching is important because it increases flexibility and reduces the likelihood of injury from other physical activities. If you do yoga, invite your kids to try it along with you. There are also plenty of free yoga videos online, and some of them are specifically geared toward children.
8. Dance Party
Who doesn't like to dance? Create a playlist of your kids' favorite songs, and ask them to bust a move. If your kids are older, challenge them to create and memorize choreography to an entire song. Then, they can perform the dance for the family.
To make the dance party even more fun, do something special to set the mood. Lower the lighting, or ask the kids to dress up in their "dance party" clothes. If you have a disco ball or colorful lights, now is the time to break them out!
The limbo is a great mobility exercise that involves bending backward to fit underneath a limbo stick. A broom or mop handle can also be used. Or, if you want a more forgiving limbo stick, opt for a piece of rope or a twisted beach towel instead.
The limbo works best with multiple people, but you can also tape string across a doorway if you don't have someone else available to hold it. Have kids lean back to walk beneath the stick, then lower the stick an inch and have them walk again. Keep lowering it to see how low they can go.
Kids love to jump, which is great, because jumping is a powerful lower body exercise. Jumps can be done on their own, or used to punctuate relay races and obstacle courses. Jumps also integrate well with music and dancing. Here are a few fun jumps to try.
Have kids start from a standing position, then jump as high as they can. At the peak of their jump, they should tuck or raise their knees up to their chest.
These classic jumps require kids to jump their legs outward while extending their arms up and clapping their hands overhead. Then, they jump their feet back together and drop their arms down to the side. Have them do 100 jumping jacks in a row for intense cardio exercise!
Have kids start in a crouch, then jump as high as possible while spreading their legs and arms out like a starfish.
How do you get your kids up and moving?
Let us know in the comments!
Kids need 60 minutes of exercise a day, which can feel difficult when all they want to do is watch TV. Liven things up with these fun exercises, and you'll find your kids having so much fun, they want to work out.