While any physical movement that gets kids moving is good, focused activities and workout exercises for kids have specific outcomes designed to let kids live their best lives. Needless to say, fitness goes hand in hand with mental, emotional, and social development.
Overall fitness exercises for kids can keep cancer, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and osteoporosis at bay while strengthening muscles and bones and controlling weight. Today’s kids have no shortage of extracurricular activities to choose from, ranging from parkour classes to ballet, self-defense, and tennis, to name a few.
Below is a list of exercises for kids to help get kids of all ages moving, at home, camps, and in the classroom.
Running strengthens muscles, boosts the metabolism, and maintains weight. It's a simple workout for kids that requires no equipment — just comfortable clothes and trainers. Running is perhaps one of the few good sports that people start as a kid and continue throughout adulthood. As a cardiovascular exercise, it bears many benefits, including decreasing the risk of heart disease.
For sedentary kids, the fresh air and blood flow bring a rush of feel-good endorphins that don’t break the bank or require a gym. Our primary source of vitamin D, which maintains healthy bones, mood, and a strong immune system, comes from the sun. This suggests the more time kids spend outdoors, the better. Plus, families can run together, killing two birds with one stone; bonding and fitness.
Basic exercises for kids, like jumping, build cardiovascular fitness and endurance. A jumping workout stimulates the lymphatic system that defends the body against infections and manages toxins. When encouraged as a fun game, kids don’t realize they’re doing a workout. Jumping teaches young kids how to safely plan and execute movements, refining their motor planning and sequencing skills.
Here are some fun exercises for kids that include jumping:
- Snake: Keep the rope on the ground. Have a kid hold it at each end and wave it gently along the ground like a slithering snake while other players attempt to jump over it.
- Helicopter: Kids make a circle on the ground and mark a spot for each player around the edge of the circle. One player stands in the middle, while the rest stay in their spots around the edges. The central player holds up the rope and swings it in a circle, shouting a color. Once the color is needed, anyone who is wearing it steps forward and tries to jump over the rope. If a player steps on the rope, the central player starts over.
- Freeze frames: Instead of having kids dance and then freeze once the music stops, they can jump up and down.
Studies have found lifestyles learned in childhood are much likelier to stick with a person into adulthood, and children exercise more when they’re having fun. Hence, the inclusion of fun and good exercises for kids (games) during school and other extracurricular activities. Kids who don’t naturally gravitate towards the sport can benefit from the kid-friendly exercises below:
- Corners: Suitable for a group of kids; this entails dividing players so they each have a “home” corner. On cue, they return “home” to complete a few simple exercises — for example, five burpees one 30-second plank. You can let the kids decide what exercises they have to perform in each corner to give them more ownership over the game.
- Exercise Relay: Kids line up on opposite sides of the room, facing each other. On “go,” all kids run toward the center of the room and meet in the middle where they do an exercise sequence like five jumps, two push-ups, and a spin, for example. The focus here is on the social interaction that comes with meeting in the middle.
- Time Scavenger Hunt: Hide five tennis balls around the house and write five different exercises on four different pieces of paper. Place a piece of paper under each tennis ball. When they find the ball, they have to complete the exercise before returning to “home base.” They have five minutes to bring all the tennis balls back.
- Penguin Shuffle: Kids start on one wall, with their hips and knees bent, eyes forward, and chests lifted. Everyone has to shuffle to the other side of the room. Whoever gets their first decides which game to play next. You can make this exercise more challenging by holding a pillow between their legs and seeing who can shuffle the fastest without dropping it.
Indoor Ball Games
Because ball play improves spatial awareness, problem-solving skills, balance, and language skills, experts recommend children engage with ball games as early as possible. Toddlers attempt their first throw between twelve and eighteen months, whereas catching comes much later, around the age of three or four years old. Either way, playing with balls provides great exercise for kids.
Some easy workouts for kids that don’t require much space include tossing balls into laundry baskets, catching balls with a plastic bucket or mixing bowl, and hitting balls against a wall or target. These exercises for young kids can get vigorous and accommodate more intense aerobic exercise the older they get. In contrast, toddlers can practice dribbling, passing, and rolling the ball with friends or parents.
Since kids have to pick up both feet simultaneously while jump roping, they build bilateral motor coordination. Jumping rope for beginners takes a lot of concentration, forcing younger ones to build focus. It’s also a great aerobic exercise for kids if the weather is bad and they can’t run and play outside.
While participating in skipping rope games, children hone their motor skills in many ways and improve muscle tone, bone mass, rhythm, stamina, and endurance. Jumping rope can burn between 200 and 300 calories in 15 minutes, which is more than other gym exercises such as treadmill running or spinning.
You can incorporate these simple kids' workout ideas into your kids' workout routine:
- Spell and Skip: Challenge kids to call out the letters of their names each time their feet hit the ground.
- Jump Rope Rhymes and Chants: Popular rhymes and chants that kids already know can be recited while they skip.
- Action Rhymes: A variation on the above two exercises, you can include hand or other body motions for an extra challenge.
The bear crawl is walking on all fours with the belly facing the floor — basically, the opposite to the crab walk. Kid-friendly exercises, like this one, are good to get the whole body moving and can be used as a part of a kids-fitness class warm-up or obstacle course.
You can get the kids to practice the movement first on their own to ensure they have the correct form before incorporating it into exercise sequences. Bear crawls provide full-body physical training for children. With care, they can also leapfrog over each other in this pose as well.
Also known as the Tin Soldier exercise, the Frankenstein Walk facilitates cross-lateral movements, which make diagonal connections in the body, encouraging left and right brain hemispheres to walk together.
Rebranded the Frankenstein Walk to appeal to kids; this exercise asks kids to put their hands straight out like a zombie and then walk, bringing each leg as parallel to the ground as possible. The aim is to get the toe to touch the opposite hand. This exercise can easily be turned into a race or form part of a kids’ workout program.
Fun and silly, this exercise for children (and adults) builds core and arm strength.
- Kids begin by sitting on the floor with their feet hip-distance apart in front of them, with their arms behind their back and fingers facing their hips.
- They lift hips off the floor and tighten their abs, their bodies making the shape of an “n.”
- The aim is to “walk” by moving their left hand followed by their right foot; then the right hand followed by the left foot.
Gym exercises for kids, like a crab walk, work the triceps, shoulders, abdominals, and quads. It simultaneously fires up multiple muscle groups, achieving more exercise goals in less time.
Squats and Lunges
The foundation of all gym exercises, the humble squat, and lunge give kids a solid foundation for physical activity. There are air squats, jump squats, single-leg squats, sumo squats, and more. Kids can try backward, forward, side lunges, and of course, the classic squat, too. To make it more fun, we suggest gamifying squats by creating time challenges.
Sit-Ups and Push-Ups
Every kid should learn how to do basic exercises like push-ups and sit-ups and their variations. They’re some of the best workouts for kids, as sit-ups strengthen the abdomen and contribute to good posture, while push-ups strengthen the upper body, enhancing sports performance and everyday activities. Pediatricians recommend developing an intense seven-minute workout for kids to maintain health and fitness.
Yoga and Stretching
Stretching reduces physical injury, increases range of motion, and keeps muscles flexible. Every workout plan for kids should always include stretching. The idea of warming up and cooling down is important to teach to kids as they begin to cultivate healthy fitness habits.
As part of physical training, yoga and stretching teach kids the value of slower movement, mindfulness, and presence. Not all activity has to be fast-paced or aggressive to have positive physical and mental results.
Other fun exercise moves for kids include Superman, which works abdominal and back muscles. This keep fit exercise tends to engage younger kids because you can encourage them by pretending to be superheroes flying through the sky.
How to do it:
- Have kids lie face down on the ground with their legs on the floor and arms stretched out in front, above their head.
- Get them to lift their legs and arms off the ground at the same time, engaging their abdominal and back muscles.
Research indicates kids who exercise have bigger brains and lower anxiety levels. Physical exercise for kids should form part of a healthy lifestyle that includes sixty minutes of physical activity a day. School-age kids have so many opportunities to take part in a range of sport-orientated extracurricular activities, even if they’re not strictly children’s fitness workouts, but rather dance or obstacle-course classes.
Training at Hot Ground Gym is a combination of the most useful exercises for the development of strength, dexterity, and endurance in children. We have a range of age-appropriate programs that include many fun exercise activities for kids. Contact us about our top-rated classes.