Children's Hospital Colorado

Expert Exercise Tips for Kids

Exercise truly is the best medicine for so many things — it helps improve sleep, stress, mood and concentration, and it can treat and prevent many medical problems. Parents often think that in order to gain benefits from exercise, workouts have to be intense. But research has shown that even short bouts of physical activity are beneficial. Here are a few easy workout tips for kids and families and how to find small windows of time during the day to sneak that activity in.

Fit physical activity in to your child’s daily routine

Physical activity doesn’t always have to be lengthy and tiring — it’s beneficial to simply walk briskly and take the stairs. The more you get kids to move, the more likely you are to create a habit and help them be regularly active.

Homework

  • Take five-minute breaks during homework time to move around, or have your child try standing while doing homework.
  • If the answer to the math question is 10, your child can do 10 of their favorite exercises (such as 10 jumping jacks).

Grocery shopping

  • Park at the far end of the parking lot at the grocery store.
  • Take extra trips through the aisles.

Going to school

  • Walk or bike to school with your kids.
  • Park several blocks away from school and walk them in or let them walk alone if they are old enough.

Watching TV

  • See how many jumping jacks, push-ups or sit-ups your family can do during commercial breaks.
  • Try to match TV time with outside time. For instance, 30 minutes of TV equals 30 minutes of outside time.

Create a time for family exercise

Think about how you can incorporate regular physical activity into your daily life as a family. Try to keep TV, movies and video games to less than two hours a day. With that extra time, consider the following:

  • Kick a soccer ball around the yard for 30 minutes.
  • Set up an obstacle course in your yard or neighborhood park.
  • Turn on some music and have a dance party.
  • Take a 20-minute walk after dinner.
  • Play a game of tag.

Set achievable goals

It’s important to set your child up for success when making a lifestyle change. Create short-term and long-term goals for your family that are easily defined and realistic.

  • Hold everyone accountable by setting a family goal (such as running a 5K).
  • A short-term goal should help you meet your long-term goal. One way to start is by committing to walking one mile as a family at least three times a week — and sticking with it.
  • When you reach your family goal, consider a reward that encourages a commitment to physical activity like getting new running shoes or fitness trackers.

Physical activity during the COVID-19 pandemic

Life is especially challenging these days. Even though your child’s sports and activities may not be in session, there are still free and fun ways to stay fit and healthy. Think about what you have available in or near your home and create a list of options for your family to choose from each day. For example, your list might look like the following:

  • Let’s go for a walk.
  • It’s time to get the bikes out and go for a ride.
  • It’s “wheels” day: Let’s find an empty parking lot where we can safely skateboard, scooter or bike.
  • Let’s go play soccer in the park near our house.
  • It’s time to find a fun YouTube exercise video.
  • Let’s play a fitness game on the gaming system.
  • We’re going to create our own game using a deck of cards or dice (for example, the jack of hearts equals 10 jumping jacks, etc.).

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