Regular physical activity is an important part of overall health, especially for growing children. Being active not only improves a child's physical health, it also offers cognitive and emotional benefits such as improving attention span and mental well-being.
It's recommended that children under age 6 are regularly active throughout the day, and that older children and teens get at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day. While schools and sports can encourage physical activity in children, knowing how to encourage kids to exercise at home can be challenging.
Jacob Rivera, CSCS, USAW, Performance Manager with Children's Health℠ Andrews Institute Sports Performance powered by EXOS, shares ideas to help get the entire family moving at home.
4 ways to increase physical activity at home
1. Set a goal
Talk to your child about the benefits of physical activity and get their input on a goal they'd like to reach. Achieving small, incremental goals can help motivate a child to get moving and lead to long-term healthy habits.
Goals could range from taking a walk every day, to increasing the number of jumping jacks or squats they can do, to how long they can hold a plank to even training for a 5k. You can find a variety of workout challenges online for different age and fitness levels. Consider hanging a chart in the house to check off daily goals and show progress.
2. Get creative
To keep exercise fun for children, variety is key. Ask your child which activities they like the most, so physical activity is something they enjoy. Mix it up from day to day, whether walking, bike riding, dancing, interval running, yoga, playing outside, body weight exercises or more. Rotate which family member chooses an activity for the day, or write different exercises on sheets of paper and draw them out of a bucket for a surprise.
Get Up & Go by Children's Health created easy-to-use exercise cards to help children and parents stay active together. Download a variety of exercise cards for inspiration.
3. Turn to online resources
While screen time can often feel like a barrier to physical activity, it can actually be one of the best tools for finding a wide variety of physical activities to do at home. "There are so many exercise resources online and streaming, so parents can utilize technology that kids already use to help get them moving," says Rivera. There are many family friendly and age-appropriate options available.
For children of all ages, GoNoodle offers movement and mindfulness videos online as well as downloadable learning resources and ideas for off-screen activities. For young athletes, Rivera recommends following Children's Health Andrews Institute Sports Performance powered by EXOS on Instagram for training inspiration, workout videos, nutrition tips and more.
4. Make exercise a family priority
If you truly want to inspire your child to get moving, the best way to do it is to set an example yourself. "The biggest factor that can impact if kids are going to be healthy and active is what their family is doing," explains Rivera. "Choose to be active with your kids as much as possible, rather than expecting them to do it on their own."
Take a family walk or bike ride, kick a ball outside or join your child for a video-led yoga or workout session. When your child sets a goal, set your own goal as well to model healthy choices. Being active together is not only good for your family's health, but also offers valuable time to bond.
Indoor exercises for kids
The outdoors gives children plenty of space to explore and play and offers many easy ways to be active. However, when you are stuck inside with children, it can be a challenge to find options that help expend their energy. Here are some ideas for indoor exercises for kids:
- Stream kid-friendly workout videos online
- Body weight exercises like push-ups, planks, squats or mountain climbers
- Jumping jacks
- Dancing to music
- Balancing on one foot
- Follow the leader (take turns picking movements)
- Hopscotch (place tape on the floor)
- Fill up a balloon and don't let it touch the ground
- Crab walk or bear crawl races
- Jump rope
You can always set up a circuit in your living room with different stations for variety. For more help to get your child moving, see tips to motivate children to exercise.
Children and teens need at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day. A sports performance expert @Childrens shares fun indoor exercises for kids and other ways to stay active at home.
Children's Health Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine is the only institute of its kind in North Texas, with the goal of helping young athletes stay strong no matter the season. Learn more about our programs and follow Children's Health Andrews Institute Sports Performance powered by EXOS on Instagram for at-home workout ideas.
Children’s Health Family Newsletter
Get health tips and parenting advice from Children’s Health experts sent straight to your inbox twice a month. Sign up now.