Get Moving! Fitness Tips for Kids

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Hula hoop arms

Here is the rule: get 1 hour or more of physical activity each day! The good news is that your kids’ 60 minutes of physical activity doesn’t need to happen all at once. Just help them get active for 10 or 15 minutes a few times a day.

You don’t need fancy equipment or a health club to help your kids get their daily physical activity. All you need are some regular household items and a little imagination. Combine a few of these tips, and they’ll quickly add up to a fun and healthy 60-minute routine. Naturally, the best way to get your kids moving is to get up and go with them. So make daily activity part of the program, and you could enjoy the health benefits too!

At-Home Gym

  • Step to it: Take three trips up and down the stairs with your child, or do 20 step-ups on one step.
  • Kangaroo Jump: Tape a shoelace to the floor in a straight line. Have your child stand on one side of the string with both feet together. Count to three, and cheer as he or she jumps over the string and back 10 times. Take a short break—and do it again!
  • Crab Crawl: Sit with your feet flat on the floor, knees bent. Lean back and place your hands flat on the floor behind you. Lift your seat off the floor, putting your weight on your hands and feet. Now, crab crawl around the room with your kids!
  • Can Do: Go to the kitchen and find two of the heaviest cans your child can hold. Have him stand with his feet flat on the floor, with the cans in his hands and arms at his side. Show him how to lift the cans up to his chest, bending his arms at the elbows. Have him hold for two seconds, and then slowly lower his arms. Repeat 10 times.
  • Reach for the Sky: Grab a small textbook and hold it by the spine. Make an “L” with your arm—with your upper arm at shoulder level and your forearm pointing toward the ceiling. Now extend your arm straight over your shoulder, pushing the book toward the sky. Return to the bent-arm position. Repeat 10 times, and then switch arms. Have your kids follow along with their own books (and arms).
  • Get On Down: Start with two bottles of laundry detergent (or any large bottle with a handle). Have your child stand with her feet flat on the floor, shoulder width apart. Place the bottles on each side of her feet. Watch as she bends her knees, grabs the bottles, and stands up. Repeat 10 times.
  • Hoop it Yourself: A trashcan (or even a box) makes a great indoor basketball goal— perfect for a quick game of one-on-one.

House Music

There’s no better way to get active than to dance! It doesn’t have to be perfect—sometimes it’s more fun to be silly! Just turn up the music and move to the beat.

  • Two Steps: Teach your kids to dance while they talk on the phone, watch TV, brush their teeth or clean their rooms!
  • New Moves: Have your child invent his or her own dance steps. They can be cool—or just wacky.
  • Dance-a-thon: Try to hop on one foot with your kids all the way through their favorite song.
  • Jumping Jack Flash: Start with a shorter song, and see if your child can do jumping jacks all the way through it. Work your way up to longer songs.

Video Workouts

  • Check It Out: Libraries and video stores have tons of workout videos for all kinds of tastes. Find your child’s style and take it to the house!
  • Stretch Your Mind: What about a yoga video? Yoga is a great way for kids to start the day—it loosens muscles and even helps focus the mind.
  • Double Time: When watching TV at home, do jumping jacks, pushups, or crunches during commercial breaks.

Chores and More

  • Get the House in Shape: Not only will they score points with you, but cleaning their rooms, vacuuming, or doing the dishes can also get your kids’ hearts pumping.

Get Out There

  • Go Green (Thumb): When the weather is nice, mowing the grass or gardening are great forms of activity.
  • Team Up: Organize the kids on your block to play a huge game of “Capture the Flag.”
  • Made for Walking: Teach your kids to use their feet every chance they get. Let them walk to a friend’s house, to the store, around the mall or wherever it’s safe to walk. While they’re at it, they can walk your dog (or a neighbor’s dog).
  • How They Roll: Encourage your kids to put their muscles to work on their bikes, skates or scooters. Don’t forget the helmets and pads.
  • A Dash of Speed: See how fast you and your kids can run for one block.
  • Home Teams: Your children don’t need to play organized sports to enjoy team activities. They can meet up with a few friends to shoot hoops, kick a soccer ball, play street hockey or throw a football or baseball.Check out your neighborhood recreation center for open gym times—and for other activities like tennis or swimming.
  • Give Them the Ball: Teach your kids how to get everyone moving. When they’re babysitting or playing with younger brothers or sisters, show them how to invent games and get everyone involved. Young kids love games like hopscotch, tag, hide-and-seek, Hula-Hoops, jumping rope, squirt guns, T-ball, kickball or flying a kite—especially when they’re doing it with a “cool” older kid.