Kids learn by falling and tumbling. In the good old days, kids were actively involved in running, playing, chasing, skipping & climbing which helped them stay physically fit. In today’s age of mobile phones, games and apps, online chat, social media and more, average daily physical activities for kids are worryingly low. The aerobic fitness of kids has significantly dropped and obesity is at near epidemic levels. This has also resulted in lack of sleep and focus problems, effect on academic performance and interpersonal relationships.
Well, if you’re struggling to motivate your kid to spend some time playing outdoor games or indulge in fitness exercises, we’ve got a perfect plan for you. Here are a bunch of workouts and indoor activities for kids that require no additional equipment.
Kids can do a mix of these to gradually build a routine. In fact, one of the easiest ways to get younger kids to do this is to simply do these activities yourself. Their curious minds will make them want to imitate, and join in.
Squats: Squats are easy! Stand with your feet apart at a distance greater than your hips, and toes pointed out. Keeping your shoulders in a straight line, bend your knees and lower your body without curving your back. Rise up again and repeat.
Jumping squats: This exercise is a more intense variation of squats. Start by taking the squat position but push your butt lower until parallel to the ground. Using your feet, launch into a jump, going as high as possible, and then landing softly using the toes, to avoid pressure on the knees. Drop back to a squat and repeat.
Jumping Jacks: Another traditional exercise for kids is the jumping jack. It’s a great warm-up and provides good cardio. Kids can do these wherever they want. Put your arms at your side, elbows straight, and feet together. Jump your feet apart and lift your arms over your head, clapping them as they reach the top. Bring your hands back down by your side and jump your feet back in. Keeping a steady rhythm with regular breathing helps make this exercise fun and a great way to teach coordination to the children.
High Knees: This is a high-intensity cardio workout. Hold your hands out, palm down, bending the arms only at the elbow. Start a light jog, but lift your knee to touch your palms, alternating at a steady pace. Make sure to lift your knee waist-high. You can start slow and speed up gradually, keeping a sustainable pace.
Burpees: Burpees work on almost the entire body. Start in a squat, as described above. Now, putting your hands on the ground in front of you, throw out your feet to go into a lying down position (alternately you can do a push up for higher intensity). Pull your feet back in and perform a jumping squat, with arms raised up in the air. Land softly and do another repetition.
Mountain Climbers: Use this exercise to give your little ones a chance to build strength in their arms and legs. Your kids will pretend to climb up mountains while focusing on their core as well as getting a quick cardio exercise as a part of their daily workout. Just grab a chair, desk or other low surface for support, lean forward, placing feet and shoulder width apart, and switch legs as if walking/running, in a constant motion if you can.
Skipping Rope: Entire generations of kids have grown up skipping. The rope is also an important part of working out, used by advanced athletes, boxers and more. It enhances cardio-respiratory fitness, while strengthening muscles and bones, and teaches young ones balance and coordination. There is an infinite variety of games, moves, shuffles that this simple little rope can be used for.
Yoga: The ancient wisdom is spot on and is great for any age and any body type. In fact, kids’ bodies are more flexible than ours, so starting them early actually will be a blessing that lasts them for life, since muscle memory will keep them more supple and mobile, and the effect stays for a long time. To make it interesting, add a layer of storytelling (superheroes or aliens) to explain a pose or add challenges. You can even add music to keep the energy flowing.
Indoor activities for kids which are equally fun & fitness centric
Balloon catch: An indoor variation of the popular ‘monkey in the middle’ can add lots of fun, while keeping stuff inside the house safe – simply substitute the ball with a balloon. It requires a minimum of 3 people to play, and can help build motor coordination while teaching group dynamics. You can vary this infinitely with volleyball, basketball etc.
Animal walks: There is an entire set of workouts styled on the movements of animals. Kids find it fascinating. You can find a lot of videos with fun workout around crab walks, deer leaps, flamingo hops, kangaroo or bunny hop, gorilla walks, galloping horse, froggers, alligator walks on all fours, cat leaps, hurt animal walks, dirty dog, superman pose, stomping elephant, sniffing puppy and jumping starfish. Not only are these walks entertaining but serve as a great exercise for kids.
Dance fitness: A variety of simple and complex movements that can be choreographed to the tunes of your child’s favourite music. The reward of a fun dance has the hidden benefit of excellent cardiovascular training. Just 3-4 songs can constitute a healthy workout. You can find hundreds of videos online to help you pick up the moves and let the kids go wild.
Obstacle course/maze: Using paper tape, rope or ribbon, you can create a path on the floor. Add soft/non-sharp household items as obstacles. Adding a variety of jumps, dodges, turns, and specific activity-stops (e.g. 5 jumping jacks when you reach this square), you can calibrate the challenge and difficulty easily. The course is essentially a time challenge, and you can add variations and rules to mix it up and keep it interesting.
Spelling Bee: One of the simplest ways to ‘gamify’ workouts for kids is spelling. Attach a specific workout/exercise/move/yoga pose to each letter. ‘Spelling’ out specific words would need them to perform the move that you have attached to each letter. So you can spell out their names, favourite characters (Spiderman, Harry Potter etc), song names – the options are endless. This can work across age groups by making age-appropriate connections for the word sources e.g. solve a simple crossword, but instead of just writing out the answer, have it spelled out with the exercises and have another child guess, and so on.
There are plenty of exercises for kids that they can do indoors. So if your kid isn’t excited about going outdoors, have these ideas implemented at home. Once you get started, you’ll be able to help your kid become physically active and fit.
The views expressed are that of the expert alone.
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