Studies say that the current generation of kids indulge in less and less physical activities compared to the previous generations.
If you were a kid raised in the 80s or 90s or before that, you know how back then children played in the streets and came home at dusk, often drenched in sweat, after having a fun time with their friends. It’s a rare sight now, at least in this part of the world.
Engaging kids in physical activities is not only beneficial for their health but also essential in developing their social skills, coordination, and self-confidence.
There are tons of options available, and hence, choosing activities that are both entertaining and age-appropriate can be a bit overwhelming. But don’t worry, you can try different activities and choose the ones your kids are interested in and have time for.
Whether indoors or outdoors, solo or in a group, winter or summer, in this post, you can find an array of activities that can suit any child’s interests and energy levels.
From simple games to more structured sports, each activity offers its unique advantages.
For young children, activities such as animal walks or dance parties can turn exercise into play, blending creativity with movement. Older kids might enjoy the competitive edge of sports, team games, or even indoor challenges that push their abilities while keeping them engaged.
Remember to consider the space available, the number of kids participating, and the materials you have at hand to ensure a safe and enjoyable time.
If you can set apart a particular time in a day for physical activities, it will help them form a daily routine of playing improve their mental health, and also help them form more healthy habits in life.
So, to involve kids in more physical activities and reduce screen time, check out our list of physical activity ideas for kids including sports, active games, and fun activities.
INDOOR PHYSICAL ACTIVITIES
When the weather is bad or you simply prefer to stay inside, having a list of indoor physical activities can be handy to keep your kids active and engaged. You might need to take a little bit of effort to gather the materials and set them up if necessary, but it’s not that hard.
1. Dance Parties
Crank up some energetic tunes and clear a space for a living room dance party. Dancing improves coordination and can be a fantastic aerobic activity. Try themed dances or silly dance contests to keep it exciting.
2. Obstacle Courses
Using household items like cushions, boxes, and chairs, create obstacle courses for your kids to navigate. This builds agility and problem-solving skills as they figure out how to get from start to finish.
3. Balloon Volleyball
A simple balloon can turn your living room into a volleyball court. Balloon volleyball promotes gentle, controlled movements and hand-eye coordination—all you need is a balloon and some string for the net.
4. Hide and Seek
An age-old game that never gets old, hide and seek has your kids crawling behind sofas and squeezing into small spaces, enhancing their flexibility and spatial awareness.
5. Hula Hooping
Hula hoops are easily available and make an easy indoor activity. Encourage your kids to pick up a hula hoop and give it a spin. Hula hooping can help improve their core strength and balance, and it’s an activity they can either do alone or turn into a challenge with friends or siblings.
Yoga can help improve their flexibility, strength, and balance. It also promotes relaxation and reduces stress, which can be particularly beneficial for children in today’s fast-paced world. Yoga can also enhance focus and concentration, which can be helpful for kids in school and other activities.
To encourage kids to participate in indoor yoga, try to make it fun and engaging. Consider incorporating playful and age-appropriate yoga poses, using colorful mats or props, and playing calming music.
You can also join in and practice yoga together with the kids to make it a shared activity.
7. Simon Says
Playing Simon Says is a fun way to encourage listening skills, following directions, and physical activity, making it an enjoyable game for kids. It can be played indoors or outdoors.
If you are not familiar with this game, here’s how to play:
- The chosen “Simon” stands in front of the group and gives instructions starting with “Simon says,” such as “Simon says touch your toes” or “Simon says hop on one foot.”
- The other players must only follow the instructions that begin with “Simon says.” If “Simon” gives an instruction without saying “Simon says” first, the players should not do the action. If a player does the action when “Simon” didn’t say “Simon says,” they are out of the game for that round.
- The game continues with “Simon” giving a series of commands, and the players follow them only if “Simon says” is used.
- The last player remaining after all others have been eliminated becomes the next “Simon.”
Variation: Simon Says with Exercise
How about transforming Simon Says into a workout game?
Call out exercises like jumping jacks, squats, or arm circles, but only when prefaced with ‘Simon says’. This fun twist on the game makes following directions fun and active.
- Jumping Jacks: Simon says, “Do 10 jumping jacks!”
- Squats: Simon says, “Do 5 squats!”
This variation will give kids plenty of opportunities to include more physical activity in the game.
8. Jump Rope
Jump rope is a fun and engaging activity that can be done individually or with friends, making it a great way for kids to stay active and healthy. It helps to improve cardiovascular fitness, coordination, agility, and balance.
9. Pillow Fight
Pillow fight is a fun way to engage kids in a physical activity. Engaging in a pillow fight can help children develop their reflexes and spatial awareness.
It also encourages them to use their muscles and burn off energy in a fun and lighthearted manner. However, it’s important to ensure that pillow fights are conducted in a safe and supervised environment to prevent any potential accidents or injuries.
10. Indoor Bowling with Plastic Bottles
Though bowling is not a vigorous physical activity, it helps to move the body and tone muscles.
Indoor bowling with plastic bottles is a great physical activity for kids as it promotes hand-eye coordination, balance, and precision. Setting up the plastic bottles and rolling a ball to knock them down helps kids develop their motor skills and spatial awareness.
It also encourages physical movement and can be much fun for kids to engage in friendly competition while staying active indoors.
11. Freeze Dance
Freeze dance is an opportunity for kids to have fun, be active, and express themselves through dance while also learning to respond to cues and control their movements.
Here is how to play the freeze dance:
- Select music: Choose upbeat, kid-friendly music and set up a sound system or music player in the play area, or simply use your phone.
- Start the music: Have the children dance and move around the play area while the music is playing.
- Freeze the music: At random intervals, pause the music. When the music stops, the children have to freeze in whatever position they are in.
- Resume the music: Start the music again and encourage the kids to resume dancing.
- Repeat: Continue playing and pausing the music at irregular intervals, prompting the children to freeze and then dance again.
It’s a great way to squeeze in a few minutes of physical activity for kids on your busy days, as you don’t need any material or setup to do this.
12. Jumping Jacks
Jumping jacks elevate the heart rate, making it an effective aerobic exercise that helps improve cardiovascular health and endurance in kids.
It is a no-prep activity that can be done anywhere. You can ask kids to do a set number of jumping jacks or set up a timer to see how many jumping jacks they can do before the timer goes off.
Many kids return from school with tons of energy built up, ready to throw tantrums. A simple activity like jumping jacks can be helpful to release that extra energy.
13. Headstand / Handstand
Inversions like a headstand or a handstand help improve balance, enhance core strength and promote better posture.
Practicing headstands and handstands also encourages focus, determination, and confidence in children. However, kids need to learn these poses under the supervision of a qualified instructor to ensure safety and proper technique.
14. Animal Race
This physical activity is suitable for small kids aged between 4-8 and is a fun way to engage their bodies.
Animal races are physical activities where children imitate the movements of various animals while racing against each other from a starting line to a finish line.
This type of play not only builds physical skills but also helps kids learn about the animal kingdom.
Some examples to give directions are:
- Hop like a bunny
- Crawl like a crab
- Gallop like a horse
- Waddle like a penguin
- Flap your arms like a bird
- Slither like a snake
- Leap like a frog
- Scuttle like a crab
- Prowl and roar like a lion
15. Martial Arts Basics
Practicing the basics of martial arts, like Karate or Taekwondo, can significantly enhance your child’s motor coordination and self-discipline. They will learn to synchronize their movements with specific breathing patterns, an essential skill for self-control and physical health.
Outdoor Physical Activities
Outdoor physical activities allow your children to explore and engage with the natural world while improving their physical health and social skills. Outdoor activities also help to gain the essential Vitamin D they need to grow healthy.
Nature or outdoor play has many benefits. Here is a post you can read on the benefits of outdoor play.
1. Scavenger Hunts
Scavenger hunts encourage kids to get creative and explore outdoor environments in a fun, engaging way. You can tailor them to any age, ensuring that kids stay active and observant as they seek out specific items or landmarks.
2. Bicycle Riding
Bicycle riding is not only enjoyable but also an excellent form of cardiovascular exercise that strengthens the legs. It’s a skill that once learned, provides a lifetime of opportunities for outdoor adventure and transportation.
Hopscotch is a classic playground game that can be enjoyed virtually anywhere. Draw a grid with chalk on the pavement and we have a simple, yet effective activity for boosting agility and balance.
4. Nature Walks
Taking nature walks allows kids to immerse themselves in the tranquility of the outdoors. It’s an opportunity to observe local flora and fauna, and for a dose of mindfulness that can reduce stress and enhance mental well-being.
5. Tag and Chase Games
Tag and various chase games are not just thrilling; they’re spontaneous and can be played with no equipment. These games are excellent for cardiovascular fitness, improving reflexes, and teaching children about strategy and teamwork.
Here are 17 Tag and chase games that are fun and involve active play at the same time.
6. Follow the Leader
To play the follow the leader game, choose a leader who will perform various movements and actions while the other players imitate and follow the leader’s actions.
The leader can walk, run, jump, crawl, or perform any other movements, and the other players must mimic the leader’s actions as closely as possible.
The game continues as the leader changes and the new leader introduces different movements, creating a fun and active way for kids to engage in physical activity and coordination.
7. Sack Race
Sack racing is a fun and beneficial physical activity for kids. It helps improve their coordination and balance as they hop and jump in the sack. It also promotes cardiovascular fitness and endurance.
8. Three-Legged Race
Three-legged race challenges their balance and agility as they navigate the course with one leg tied to their partner’s. It also provides a fun way for kids to engage in physical exercise, promoting energetic movements that improve their fitness.
9. Tug of War
Tug-of-war is a fun game that promotes teamwork and cooperation as kids work together to pull the rope in their favor. It also encourages the development of strategic thinking as they plan their approach to win the game.
10. Relay Races
Relay races are a fun way to get some physical activity done for kids in addition to teaching teamwork and sportsmanship. Here are 46 fun relay race ideas for kids.
11. Duck, duck, goose
Duck, duck, goose can be a great exercise for kids as this game allows them to run around in a circle when their turn comes. This is a lively game that encourages kids to engage in physical activity while having fun.
WATER BASED ACTIVITIES
Water-based activities not only keep kids cool on hot days but also provide vigorous exercise.
Here is our list of water-based physical games.
1. Swimming and Races
Swimming is an excellent full-body exercise that enhances strength and endurance. Organize swim races to add a competitive edge, making sure to supervise the children at all times to ensure safety.
2. Water Balloon Toss
A classic water balloon toss encourages hand-eye coordination and teamwork. Pair the kids up and toss water balloons back and forth, aiming to increase the distance with each successful catch; the last duo with their balloon intact wins!
3. Sponge Relay Race
Split the participants into two groups and instruct them to stand in separate areas. Give each team a small, dry container and a large cloth. Position two larger containers of water at the opposite end.
Explain that when the signal is given, the first member of each team should dash to their team’s water container, soak the cloth, return with it, and wring out all the water into the team’s dry container.
They should then pass the cloth to the next person in line, and continue until one team successfully fills their container. The victorious team will be the one that accomplishes this task first.
4. Water Limbo
To play water limbo, you will need a hose or sprinkler to create a stream of water. Participants take turns trying to walk under the stream without getting wet. After each round, lower the height of the water stream to increase the difficulty.
The last person remaining dry wins the game. It’s a playful twist on the classic limbo game that keeps kids active and entertained.
5. Pool Noodle Jousting
Transform pool noodles into jousting sticks for a fun pool noodle jousting match. Kids can balance on floats and try to gently push their opponents off, experiencing both laughter and playful combat.
6. Drip, Drip, Splash
Drip, Drip, Splash is a playful and wet twist on the traditional game Duck, Duck, Goose, which involves sitting in a circle and tapping heads with a wet sponge while chanting “drip, drip, drip.” When someone is chosen as the “splash,” they squeeze the sponge over the chosen player’s head.
The chosen player can then continue the same action and choose the next player.
7. Water Balloon Piñata
Hang water balloons from a tree branch or clothesline, then blindfolded kids take turns trying to burst the balloons with a stick. It’s a refreshing take on the traditional piñata game that adds an element of surprise and water-filled fun.
8. Water Gun Tag
Kids armed with water guns chase and spray each other to “tag” opponents, promoting physical activity while keeping cool in the summer heat.
9. Splash Freeze Dance
Kids dance to music while being sprayed with water, and when the music stops, they freeze in place until the music resumes. It’s a lively and entertaining way for kids to stay active and refreshed.
10. Water Balloon Dodgeball
In this wet and wild version of dodgeball, kids throw water balloons at each other, aiming to “tag” opponents while dodging incoming balloons. It’s a high-energy game that combines physical activity with water play.
11. Water Balloon Hot Potato
Instead of using a ball or potato, pass a water balloon around the circle, and the person holding it when it breaks is out of the game. Simply replace the broken balloon with a new one to keep the game going.
12. Water Balloon Spoon Race
Similar to the classic egg and spoon race, kids balance a water balloon on a spoon as they race to the finish line.
13. Water Balloon Baseball
Instead of a regular baseball, kids use a water balloon as the “ball” and a plastic bat to hit it. This water-filled twist on the classic game adds an element of surprise and excitement to the game of baseball.
Note: Remember to always prioritize safety by providing life jackets for non-swimmers and monitoring the kids closely during all water-based activities.
Team sports have many benefits.
It helps to improve their physical fitness and social skills, build an active lifestyle, and understand teamwork.
Older kids may gravitate more to playing sports than games and introducing them to different sports activities can help them choose the one they want to stick to.
Sports is also an excellent way to get hours of physical activity and the whole family can participate too.
Here’s a selection of team sports that are not only fun but also offer valuable learning experiences.
1. Soccer Drills
In soccer drills, the focus is on developing your passing, dribbling, and shooting abilities. Passing drills like ‘Pass and Move’ help build team coordination, while dribbling exercises increase their control over the ball. Set up mini-games where kids can practice these skills in a dynamic setting.
2. Basketball Shooting Practice
For basketball shooting practice, concentrate on their shooting technique and accuracy. Free throws are perfect for honing their shooting under pressure, while lay-up drills improve their in-game finishing. Regular shooting sessions will gradually increase their precision and confidence on the court.
3. Ultimate Frisbee
Ultimate Frisbee is a fast-paced, non-contact team sport played with a flying disc (Frisbee). The objective of the game is to score points by catching the disc in the opposing team’s end zone.
Players move the disc by passing it to teammates and once caught, a player must stop running and establish a pivot foot. Ultimate Frisbee combines elements of soccer, basketball, and American football, emphasizing sportsmanship and fair play.
T-Ball, a simplified version of baseball, is ideal for younger children. It helps develop hand-eye coordination and introduces the basics of batting and fielding. In T-Ball drills, you’ll learn to focus on hitting a stationary ball off a tee and fielding ground balls.
Introducing kids to lacrosse can provide a dynamic team sport that promotes hand-eye coordination, agility, and teamwork.
Dodgeball helps to improve their throwing, dodging, and catching abilities while working together as a team.
Engaging in solo sports is an excellent way for kids to engage themselves when friends or family are not around.
Let’s see what they are:
1. Skateboarding Basics
They can start with the basics of skateboarding by finding a flat, smooth surface and mastering their stance and balance. Ensure they wear safety gear, such as a helmet and knee pads. Look for a local park or a safe community space designated for skateboarding to practice their skills.
2. Tennis Against a Wall
Playing tennis against a wall is a fantastic way to improve kids’ coordination and reflexes. With just a racquet and a ball, they can simulate a game of tennis, focusing on their forehand and backhand strokes. It’s an effective and fun way to practice without the need for a partner.
3. Gymnastics at Home
You can create a simple home gymnastics routine for kids with exercises such as somersaults, cartwheels, and handstands. Always practice on a soft, padded surface for safety. Home gymnastics can enhance their flexibility, balance, and core strength.
4. Jogging or Running
Whether it’s a casual jog around the neighborhood or participating in a kids’ fun run event, running is one of the best ways for kids to set and achieve personal fitness goals while enjoying the outdoors and staying physically active.
Introducing kids to solo archery practice can help them develop focus, precision, and upper-body strength.
6. Table tennis
Kids can practice solo table tennis by hitting the ball against a wall to improve their hand-eye coordination and reflexes.
7. Rock climbing
Kids can practice bouldering or climbing on indoor walls to enhance their strength, problem-solving skills, and confidence.
Kids can engage in solo trampoline sessions to improve their coordination, balance, and lower body strength.
It’s hard to get much physical activity during winter. This can lead to the winter blues and mental health problems.
Engaging in physical activity during winter is an effective way to combat the winter blues and release endorphins, which are natural mood lifters, helping to alleviate feelings of sadness and lethargy often associated with the colder months.
Here are some winter-specific physical activities for kids:
1. Sled Riding
Grab your sled and find a snowy hill for an exhilarating ride down. Sled riding provides a rush of excitement and kids will enjoy it. Ensure everyone’s safety by wearing a helmet and scouting for a safe area free from obstacles.
2. Snowball Fights
A classic winter pastime, snowball fights encourage strategic thinking and exercise. Form teams, create snow forts for defense, and enjoy a friendly competition. Remember to set ground rules in advance to keep the game fun and safe for everyone.
3. Ice Skating
Ice skating improves their balance and coordination while offering a fun way to exercise. Be sure the ice is thick enough for safety and consider wearing gear like elbow pads and knee pads for protection.
4. Building Snowmen
Help kids to roll up snow to craft their snowman. This creative activity is perfect for families and sparks the imagination. Decorate with items like carrots, buttons, and scarves to give the snowman a unique personality.
Building a snowman also involves lifting, bending, and sculpting, providing a good range of motion and exercise.
Introducing kids to skiing on gentle slopes can be a thrilling and physically challenging winter activity.
Kids can learn and practice snowboarding on beginner slopes, improving balance and lower body strength.
Exploring snowy trails on snowshoes can provide kids with a unique and low-impact winter workout.
8. Building snow forts
Kids can engage in building snow forts, promoting physical activity and creativity.
9. Winter nature hikes
Taking kids on winter nature hikes can provide them with exercise and the opportunity to appreciate the winter landscape and it’s a good physical activity for the entire family.
10. Ice Hockey
Kids can enjoy playing ice hockey on outdoor rinks or frozen ponds, improving their mental resilience and teamwork skills.
11. Snow obstacle course
Setting up a winter-themed obstacle course can provide kids with a fun and challenging physical activity.
12. Ice climbing
Introducing older kids to ice climbing in a supervised and safe environment can provide them with a thrilling and physically demanding winter activity.
13. Ice sculpting
Ice sculpting can offer several benefits for kids. It provides a creative outlet for artistic expression, allowing children to explore their imagination and develop fine motor skills through the manipulation of ice and tools in addition to the light activity.
Engaging in fitness challenges not only promotes a healthy lifestyle for children but also introduces an element of fun competition. These activities can be tailored to various skill levels and can be done individually or in groups.
1. Jump Rope Competitions
Jump rope competitions are a dynamic way to improve your child’s cardiovascular fitness and coordination. Start with a basic two-minute jump-off and progress to more complex tricks and sequences to keep the challenge exciting.
2. Pull-up Contests
Pull-up contests will help strengthen your child’s upper body and core muscles. It’s a simple yet effective challenge: See who can perform the most pull-ups in a set time frame or who can achieve their personal best over time.
3. Push-up Challenges
Push-up challenges are versatile and require no equipment, making them an excellent exercise for core and arm strengthening. Initiate a friendly contest to see who can do the highest number of push-ups or who can maintain proper form the longest.
4. Frisbee Throwing Contest
A Frisbee throwing contest for kids is a fun and engaging activity where children compete to see who can throw a Frisbee the farthest or with the most accuracy. It provides an opportunity for kids to develop their throwing skills, hand-eye coordination, and overall physical fitness.
The contest can be structured in various ways, such as distance throwing, target accuracy, or even freestyle routines where participants showcase their creativity in throwing and catching the Frisbee.
5. Plank Challenge
Encourage kids to hold a plank position for as long as they can, aiming to increase their endurance over time.
6. Running Challenge
Kids can set a distance goal, such as running a certain number of laps around a track or completing a set distance within a specific time frame.
7. Squat Challenge
Kids can challenge themselves to complete a certain number of squats each day, gradually increasing the count as they build strength.
8. Flexibility Challenge
Encourage kids to work on improving their flexibility by attempting to touch their toes, stretch their arms overhead, and perform other flexibility exercises for a set period like 14 days or 30 days.
Daily physical activity is a non-negotiable habit we all must try to develop irrespective of age. Engaging kids in physical activities from a young age helps to develop a love for moving their bodies and reaping the benefits of it.
I hope from this post, you were able to find some good ideas to encourage children to do more physical activity.