With the evidence from this research, it’s clearly important to help encourage young children to exercise, but the key to success is ensuring that the children find exercise FUN! Making exercise a joy that they look forward to means they are more likely to engage with whatever the exercise you get them doing. The benefit of movement is that it helps to build a stronger heart, stronger bones, and stronger muscles, which are all a big part of healthy development and growth.
So how can you make fitness fun for kids, well the best way is turn it into a game or an adventure. Below I describe some games that adults and children can play together, and the good news is that they can all be done for free.
Game 1: “What Animal am I?”
For this all the parent needs to do is make the noise of the animal or say the animals name, then the child must guess (if a noise has been made) and then mimic the movement of the animal and do it for a count of 20. A couple of good examples are a frog, so they jump around, a bear so they crawl around, rabbit so they bounce around, snake so they belly crawl around.
Game 2: Don’t let the Balloon Drop
For this all your need is a balloon or balloons, (the more you have the harder the game). The idea is that the child must keep tapping the balloon to keep it high up in the air, when the balloon touches the ground, the game is over. If you try this one indoors make sure you put away any fragile items before you start!
Game 3: Walk the Alphabet
This is a simple game which can be done whilst out on a walk together. Starting with the letter A and then working all the way down the alphabet each of you must spot something beginning with that letter and they all must be different things for the same letter. If the child is having trouble seeing something you can give them clues and make it fun – so for each clue you give them they need to perhaps do a jump, hop or a skip. Your can always play along and get them to give you clues too as they will love seeing you hop, skip or jump too!
Game 4: Follow along to a Fitness Adventure Story
I have several of these on my YouTube Channel and the children love listening to a story whilst following along too. You can also do this with any of their favourite children’s book too and pretend to act it out – some children’s favourites are The Gruffalo series or We’re Going on A Bear Hunt.