Physical Activities Quick Links:
- Fitness that’s actually fun
- Benefits of regular physical activity
- How much should your child exercise?
- Embrace the fun of fitness
20 Fun Physical Activities For Kids
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, “children now spend more than seven and a half hours in front of a screen” every day. That’s almost an entire workday of screen-time! As a parent, you understand how important it is to get your kids up and moving. You also know how difficult it is to compete with attention-grabbing computer games and television.
So how do you motivate your kid to turn off the screens and slip on some sneakers? You have to make exercise as fun and engaging as their devices.
Fitness that’s actually fun
Kids care much more about fun than they do fitness - that’s why they opt for Pokemon Go over pedometers. With a little creativity and some basic equipment, you can educate your little ones on the importance of staying healthy and have them running around in no time.
Not sure where to get started? Here are 20 fun physical activities for kids.
Whether your kids like to splash in the pool on a hot summer day or swim laps with their teammates, swimming is an amazing (and amazingly fun) workout. On top of strengthening the lungs, improving endurance, and engaging almost every muscle in the body, swimming also relieves stress and anxiety.
Dancing is as much sport as it is an art form. With each move, your kids can kick, flip, and sashay into a healthy lifestyle - all while making new friends. Whatever kind of music your kid likes, there’s a dance style for it. That includes:
- Hip Hop
#3: Bike Riding
When kids ride their bikes, they’re learning to explore the world around them, gain independence, and build confidence. At the same time, they’re gaining the benefits of a healthy lifestyle - strength, hand-eye coordination, balance, and control.
To make sure your kid stays safe while they explore, it’s important to equip them with the right bike. While mass-produced bikes are very affordable, this discount comes at a price. Their frames are often too heavy for small children, and their brakes are tricky to use, putting them in unsafe situations.
#4: Street Hockey
For kids who like to break a sweat (and aren’t afraid to play a little rough), hockey is perfect. Players learn how to stay agile, while improving their aim and coordination. If you can’t find a local kid’s hockey team, have some DIY driveway fun with four cones, a puck, and a few hockey sticks.
Both casual and competitive basketball gets kids’ hearts pumping, improves hand-eye coordination, and boosts agility. If your kid isn’t the competitive type - or if you don’t have enough players for a five-on-five - try some of these variations for a fun spin on the classic sport:
To work on power, precision, and reflexes, get your kid to the local volleyball club or play a game of “Pepper” (where two partners bump, set, and spike back and forth).
#7: Martial arts
Though it might be initially intimidating, martial arts dojos (i.e. gyms) offer a wide array of accessible classes for kids of all ages and skills. This physical discipline builds self-defense skills, focus, strength, and flexibility - to say nothing of confidence. Some popular martial arts styles include:
- Kung Fu
- Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
- Krav Maga
Football is a great activity for competitive kids who love to run, chase and strategize. Nothing feels better than watching your kid launch a perfect spiral, make an incredible catch, or sprint into the end zone. If you’re worried about the rough aspect of the sport, football doesn’t always require tackling. Both touch and flag football are safe alternatives for boys and girls of all ages to enjoy.
Whether you think the next Serena Williams or Roger Federer lives in your house, or you just want to rally with your kid, tennis is a great combination of endurance and elegance. Once your youngster picks up the basic skills, they’ll start seeing quick improvements in physical agility, cardio, and hand-eye coordination.
Running is an incredible test of cardiovascular health and aerobic endurance. Not only is running one of the most beneficial things to do outside with kids in terms of physical health, but it’s also a great way for them to make friends and explore the world around them - be it through after-school running programs or the track team. To integrate running into your child’s weekly schedule, check out some of these popular running groups:
For toddlers and preschoolers, introduce the joy of running through active games like:
While there are debates about whether this sport is called football or soccer, no one debates how fun and engaging it is. Soccer encourages kids to communicate with their teammates, stay light on their feet, and push themselves to the limit. As a bonus, they get to impress their friends with their cool new juggling skills.
Although it requires more equipment and teammates than many other physical activities, baseball is our national pastime for a reason. This addictive sport demands speed, power, and patience from kids. By memorizing hand signals and adapting to feedback from coaches, young baseball players strengthen both their muscles and their minds.
As a source of strength, flexibility, and discipline, young gymnasts develop both fitness and flair. From the flips and leaps to the flashy costumes, gymnastics will make your kid feel like a superhero - and give them the confidence to match.
You might be surprised how much a simple daily walk can do for kids’ mental and physical health. While experts recommend that adults walk 10,000 steps a day, kids should aim for upwards of 15,000. Here are some lively twists to make this casual activity a bit more exciting:
- Turn it into a nature hike
- Walk to a friend’s house in the neighborhood
- Play “I Spy” along the way
- Take the dog with you
- Start a call-and-response chant
#15: Mat ball
This gym class fave is a variation of kickball and it’s safer for little kids than the original - and possibly more fun. While the rules are similar, the only difference is that you use mats instead of bases. That way, instead of requiring that only one kid stands on a base at once, they all get to pile onto the mat until there’s no more space!
#16: Jumping rope
Cited as one of the best activities for both cardiovascular fitness and muscle strengthening, skipping roping can be both a sport of solitude and a group activity (think Double Dutch). Kids with less time on their hands will benefit from just a few minutes of vigorous jumping, while others can play around with new tricks - or even add a second rope to the mix.
#17: Simon Says
Typically considered a low-impact game, Simon Says can easily be upgraded into a fun fitness activity for kids of all ages. Here are some command ideas for a Simon Says game that really breaks a sweat:
- Do a goofy dance
- Shake, shake, shake it out!
- Do a somersault
- Run in place as fast as you can
- Hop on your right foot ten times
- Do a cartwheel
- Spin in circles
- Hop like a frog
Try it with your kids today! (Wait, we didn’t say Simon Says…)
#18: Rollerblading and rollerskating
You don’t need disco tunes or a strobe light to have a blast on your skates. Just lace up and hit the road! Both quad skates (i.e. rollerskates) and inline skates (i.e. “Rollerblades”) promote better balance and cardiovascular health in kids, who love the speed and thrill of skating.
Skateboarding is a versatile sport that encourages creativity, resilience, and courage. Kids who skateboard learn how to take a spill, work on their balance, and develop their own style. Just make sure they wear a helmet, elbow pads and knee pads. (Maybe even wrap them in bubble wrap, just to be safe.)
Among all summer games for kids, this classic gym game is so fun that they’ll forget they’re even exercising. To make it even friendlier, opt for soft foam balls over the iconic red ones we know so well. You can increase the strenuousness of the game by widening the playing field, so kids have to run even farther and faster to jump, duck, and dodge.
Benefits of regular physical activity
On top of the fun your kids will be having, they’ll also get a truly incredible slew of short-term and long-term benefits from engaging in regular physical activity. That includes:
- Stronger muscles
- Lower body fat
- Improved gross and fine motor skills
- Stronger bones
- Better morale and self-esteem
- Reduced stressors like anxiety and depression
- Healthier heart and lungs
- Healthier habits and routines
- Better health when older
- Lower risk of chronic disease
- Lower risk of childhood obesity
- Lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels
And of course, for many kids, physical exercise becomes a lifelong passion. Instilling in kids the value of regular exercise at a young age will help pave a smooth path towards healthy adolescence and adulthood.
How much should your child exercise?
Experts at Stanford recommend that kids engage in physical activity routines according to the following standards:
- Toddlers and preschool students – 1 to 2 hours of active play throughout the day.
- Older kids and teens – At least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per day
According to health professionals, no young child should remain inactive for more than one hour - unless they’re sleeping - while older children should spend no more than two sedentary hours a day.
Embrace the fun of fitness
Building daily active play and exercise into your kid’s routine is essential for lifting their spirits, boosting their confidence, and improving their focus. Not to mention, sports and exercise can be incredibly fun and fulfilling.
No matter your kid’s sport of choice, bike riding is something that will stay with them into adulthood - whether they’re the next great cyclist or just a casual cruiser. That’s why investing in a high-quality bike for your kid is essential. With Guardian Bikes, you’ll never have to choose between safety, speed, and style. Click here to learn more.
HHS.gov. Facts & Statistics. https://www.hhs.gov/fitness/resource-center/facts-and-statistics/index.html#:~:text=Less%20than%205%25%20of%20adults,of%20physical%20activity%20each%20week.&text=Only%2035%20%E2%80%93%2044%25%20of%20adults,65%2D74%20are%20physically%20active.
KidsHealth. Kids and Exercise. https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/exercise.html
National Center for Biotechnology Information. Sedentary Behaviour and Obesity in a Large Cohort of Children. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2746930/
Stanford Children’s Health. Aerobic Exercises for Kids. https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=aerobic-exercises-for-kids-1-4800
VeryWellFit. How Many Pedometer Steps Should You Aim For Each Day? https://www.verywellfit.com/how-many-pedometer-steps-per-day-are-enough-3432827#:~:text=Experts%20view%2010%2C000%20steps%20per,girls%20and%2015%2C000%20for%20boys.