Ways to include physical activity in your kid’s daily routine

Written by Varuna Shunglu
Published: March 22, 2024
Varuna Shunglu is an author, lawyer, health counselor and meditation teacher. She consults with Schools to create wellness curriculums and has worked with over 10,000+ kids in the last 8 years. Degrees : BA(Hons), LLB, Msc Yogic Science, Teacher trainer World Yoga Federation and Yoga Alliance International.

Share To

Get informed on different types of exercise and games as you start incorporating physical activity into your child’s daily routine today!

Imagine your kids waking up on their own in the morning, jumping out of bed, doing 10 jumping jacks and 10 push-ups before running to get ready for school and gobble up their breakfast. Sounds like a dream, right? 

The beauty of the human brain is that you can create a structure that can help achieve any goal that you desire( I’m sure you know that it isn’t easy!) or the lack of structure can leave your child feeling lethargic, sluggish and low in energy while they pull through the day. 

Keeping your kids active is important for their physical and mental health, but with so many other activities vying for their attention, it can be hard to make physical activity a priority. In this article, we will explore different types of physical activities for kids, the benefits of exercise for kids, and fun ways to incorporate physical games into your child’s life. 

According to the Centre for disease control and prevention (CDC), physical activity can reduce the risk of death by 30% and strokes by 27%, colon cancers by 20-30% and if this is built into daily life, your children can live healthier life spans with reduced physical pain and diseases. With this information, you can help ensure that your child is getting the physical activity they need to stay healthy and happy. 

Today we know that there exist many lifestyle diseases and it all begins with sedentary lifestyles and excessive junk foods. According to the journal of the American medical association( JAMA) regular walking, cycling and swimming can improve body metabolism, reduce weight, and prevent Alzheimer’s in the future by a whopping 30% and if combined with other anti-inflammatory practices, then even more.

Types of physical activities for kids

Physical activity is one of the best things that you can give your child. It not only helps to keep them healthy, improves cardiovascular health (means fewer colds, coughs and falling sick!), balances blood pressure and also has a variety of benefits for their overall development. 

In India, ICMR has said that 60 % of the population doesn’t meet basic levels of physical activity while the Public health foundation of India( PHFI) has found that only 13% of adults meet the WHO recommendations for physical activity. The question remains, how can we incorporate physical activities for kids so that they may enjoy it, adapt to it and miss it when they’re not able to do an activity, making physical activity an intrinsic part of their identity?

Let’s talk about the different types of physical activities for kids and discuss what equipment is needed for each activity, as well as tips on how to make physical activity more engaging for your child. In addition, we lay the foundation for some ideas to make sure your child is getting the recommended amount of physical activity each day and discuss ways to encourage them to be more active.

When it comes to including physical activity in a kid’s daily routine, there are a variety of options available. Some activities, like running or swimming, are great all-around exercises that can be done by kids of all ages. Other activities, like tennis or soccer, are better suited for older children while still others – like yoga or kickball – are perfect for younger kids who aren’t yet strong enough to participate in more intense activities. Based on your child’s age and interests, choose an activity that they will love and help them develop essential motor skills and coordination.

Kind of exercise Age group Area of impact
Running and jogging 6-13 years Cardiovascular fitness, joint stability
Swimming 6-12years Full body workout, muscle strength and flexibility
Cycling 9 years onwards Cardiovascular health, stamina, muscle strength, endurance
Dancing 4 years onwards Muscle strength, coordination, cardiovascular fitness
Yoga 3 years and above Flexibility, muscle strength, balance, coordination
Jumping rope 7 years and above Cardiovascular strength and endurance
Team sports- soccer, volleyball, basketball etc 5 years onwards Cardiovascular strength and fitness, muscle strength, fitness and endurance
Gymnastics 6 years onwards Improving muscle flexibility, muscle strength, endurance, coordination

To make physical activity more engaging for kids, try incorporating some fun props into the equation and introduce these games in an unconventional way – like bouncy balls or a slide to start with as little children at age 2-3 years – as well as songs that they can sing along with during their workouts. 

You can keep a basketball next to their study area and they have to dribble it 20 times every time they take a study break? Or jumping jacks as soon as they wake up. You can even encourage them to help you carry part of the grocery once they’re older. Sounds like fun, right? It has been scientifically proven that if we do ‘snack-sized activities’ throughout the day, we develop much better metabolic health and fitness.

And finally, don’t forget to reward your kid every once in a while with some special privileges (like staying up late) or a playdate with a friend if they’re doing their part in making healthy exercise a part of their daily routine!

The benefits of outdoor play and exercise for children

When I first met Sarvesh( name changed), he was doing poorly in school. Even though the load in classes wasn’t much, he would still avoid going out to play saying that he needed to study. He would therefore also stay up late and again wake up tired in the morning. This seemed like a never-ending cycle that his parents were worried about. 

Physical activity was essential for Sarvesh, but how could his parents introduce physical activity without making it seem like a burden? Plus, there are other factors to keep in mind- Is the child’s nutritional input balanced? Is he/she getting adequate sleep? All these factors contribute to healthy physical strength and therefore the desire to be physically active. The identification of these issues is paramount and differs from case to case.

We know that not only does physical activity help to build healthy bones and muscles, but it also helps to increase a child’s sense of well-being and overall health. There are different types of physical activities that are suitable for children of all ages and abilities, so it was important to find what worked best for Sarvesh. 

He began with only 10 minutes of physical activity before he sat down to play his video games every evening. His games have a one-hour deadline. He was given some nourishing Sattu drink after he finished his exercise to provide adequate protein to nourish his muscles. Gradually, he had the inclination and the energy to exercise for longer- first indoors with his parents and then soon he was going downstairs to play football and moving on to attending a fitness class three times a week at a camp next door.

Here are some of the benefits of outdoor play and exercise for children that Sarvesh too noticed within 3 months of his routine:

1. Regular physical activity helps children develop self-confidence and esteem. He was feeling fitter and more willing to go out and play.

2. It improves problem-solving skills, critical thinking skills, maths skills, coordination, balance, and fine motor skills. Schoolwork gets better with practice and alertness, and focus gets enhanced.

3. It can boost a child’s mood and decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression. If you see your child is experiencing symptoms please get in touch with a certified therapist. Sarvesh was feeling lighter, smiling more and overall more enthusiastic.

4. Physical activity can improve sleep habits in kids by helping them regulate their own sleep cycles. Sleep at the right time for the required 8-10 hours for children is transformational. He was so tired that he was sleeping earlier than before. 

5. It strengthens social relationships by helping kids learn how to share resources cooperatively with others and spend time in each other’s company while learning how to accept defeat at a game too. Sportsmanship enhances personality. So, Sarvesh rarely missed his fitness boot camp because he knew his friends would be waiting for him.

6. Finally, safety was a priority when engaging in physical activity with the kids – they now know the importance of wearing appropriate clothing (hiking boots instead of sneakers for example), using sunscreen appropriately, staying hydrated during hot weather activities etc. 

Connecting with nature through physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your child’s development – make sure you include plenty of outdoor playtime into their daily routine!

Exercise essentials for kids

Kids are growing up so quickly! It’s important that they get plenty of exercises to keep their physical and mental health in check. Not only will exercise provide them with many physical benefits, but it will also help to develop healthy habits. Below, we’ll take a look at some of the many benefits of exercise for kids.

First and foremost, exercise is essential for keeping kids’ physical health in check. Regular physical activity has been linked with decreased risk of obesity, heart disease, certain types of cancer, and more. In addition, staying active throughout childhood has been shown to reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases as an adult.

It’s important to set achievable goals and objectives when starting out with physical activity for kids. This way, you can be sure that your child is progressing – and not plateauing – on their fitness journey. Setting measurable goals allows you to track your child’s progress over time and provides motivation to keep going.

Another great way to incorporate physical activity into your child’s life is by incorporating it into their home life and school life together. For example, you can set up a designated play space in your home where they can engage in active playtime without ever having to leave the house. Or you could create or support their participation in a sport or fitness class for school that your child can participate in after-hours without missing too much school time. This way, children have access to active activities both during the day and in the evening!

Finally, it’s important for kids to have fun while exercising! That means incorporating games into their workouts – whether they’re playing traditional sports like soccer or basketball or something more unusual like dodgeball or tag! Games teach children about teamwork while also providing intense bursts of energy that will help them burn calories faster than if they were just working out alone without feeling like it’s a chore.

Plus, playing games together helps foster relationships between parents and children which are beneficial down the road when it comes to healthy eating habits and positive self-image. Kids can be really happy with simple things but what they do need is your time, attention and sometimes your creativity.

Use movement to support healthy development In kids- Gamification Ideas

Games are fun but also help to teach children how to exercise safely and effectively. Additionally, they promote healthy habits and activities that will last a lifetime.

Here are some ideas for promoting physical activity in kids:

1. Developing outdoor adventure ideas that are fun for the whole family

2. Creating opportunities for physical activity that are tailored to each child’s interests (e.g., martial arts classes for boys, dance classes for girls)

3. Playing team sports or other active activities with friends

4. Encouraging creative movement (e.g., painting with watercolours)on large bedsheets, canvasses, walls etc.

5. Teaching kids about proper nutrition, hydration, and rest so they can perform their best physically

As you can see, developing a strategy that works well for your family is important when promoting physical activity in kids of all ages. 

Fun ways to incorporate physical games into your child’s life

There are a variety of different types of physical activities that suit all ages and abilities, so there’s definitely something for everyone. Here are some tips on integrating physical activity into your child’s routine:

1. Start by finding activities that your child enjoys – If they don’t want to play tag or go running around the block, that’s okay! Be flexible. Take your kids walking to the bus stop instead of driving if it is not too far. Encourage games you played as a kid like hopscotch or kho kho etc.

2. Make sure that you’re monitoring your child while they’re playing – if they start to get tired or restless, take them back to the original activity.

3. Sustain physical activity by continuing to introduce new challenges and activities as your child grows older. This will keep them challenged and engaged throughout their lifetime. A fun obstacle course in your backyard or living room can get the excitement soaring!

And finally, here are some fun ways to incorporate physical games into your child’s life: hide-and-seek with a ball, building towers out of blocks, playing catch with a softball, learning new dance moves together…the possibilities are endless! 

Promote physical activity by incorporating these games into family gatherings or weekend getaways as well. And lastly, make sure you keep an eye on your kid’s weight – without mentioning it to them or obsessing about it. 

Adding different types of physical activity is just the beginning!

The importance of physical activity for children cannot be overstated. Getting them started is just the beginning. Not only does it help to build healthy bones and muscles, but it also has a variety of benefits for their 360° development. With the right guidance and equipment, you can help ensure your child is getting the recommended amount of physical activity while growing into a bright and dynamic individual and they will thank you for it someday.

Share To

The views expressed are that of the expert alone.