My children are aged 8 and 7 now and ‘getting fit’ still tops my New Year's Resolution list, but it can still feel tricky to know what I can do with them around. I know I have the opportunity to exercise while they are at school, but there are a LOT of school holidays and I think it’s important to exercise with our children to make it a normal thing that can be a fun activity to do together.
Here are some great ways you can exercise with your children, from when they are toddlers and up. If you have a baby and are looking for ways to exercise with them we have another great list here.
10 Exercises you can do with your children
1. YouTube Exercise videos – My children were only 5 and 4 when lockdown hit, but P.E with Joe opened our eyes to a whole host of Youtube videos that help you get fit in your living room, and we quickly realised that our children loved joining in. Whenever I’m doing an exercise video at home one of my children normally joins in (which can be soul destroying as my daughter can smash out 10 sit ups in the time in takes me to do one!) so this can be a great option for family work outs.
2. Brain Break Activities – This is another one on Youtube that my children love. They are specifically aimed at children to get them up and moving, but they can be great fun for adults too. Here are a one of our favourite ones – Encanto Brain break.
3. Family Bike Rides – For younger children there are some great options to attach a seat or trailer to your bike. If you are new to bike riding maybe starting with your child as they are learning would be a great plan, as you can build up your distance and fitness at a slow and steady pace
4. Learn a new sport together – This could be a sport you enjoyed as a kid that you want to try again or something completely new. My son started squash lessons a couple of years ago and it looked like so much fun that when they mentioned a class to teach adults I jumped at the chance. I now know enough of the basics that I can enjoy a hit about with him, which he loves.
5. Park runs – Now this one isn’t for me ( If you see me running then you should run too, as I will only run if I’m being chased…) but so many of our school friends enjoy doing park runs together. To find out more about Park runs click here.
6. Obstacle Course - Set up a simple obstacle course in your garden or living room using items like cushions, chairs, and ropes. Include activities like jumping over a line of cushions, crawling under a string stretched between two chairs, and hopping from one spot to another. This is great for developing agility, balance, and coordination.
7. Animal Walks - Turn movement into a game by imitating different animals. For example, hop like a frog, crawl like a bear, or walk like a crab. This not only makes exercise fun but also helps children develop motor skills and encourages creativity.
8. Dance Party - Put on some energetic music and have a dance party. Dancing is a fantastic way to get some cardio in and improve coordination. You can make it more structured by teaching them simple choreography or just let loose and freestyle.
9. Yoga for Kids - Yoga is excellent for flexibility, strength, and relaxation. There are many kid-friendly yoga routines available online that incorporate fun poses and storytelling to engage children.
10. Balloon Volleyball - Inflate a balloon and play a gentle game of volleyball, hitting the balloon back and forth without letting it touch the ground. This is a safe and fun way for kids to work on their hand-eye coordination and reflexes.
Whatever you decide to do, remember to keep the exercise sessions short and fun, as children have limited attention spans. Praise their efforts rather than focusing on perfect execution to keep them motivated and engaged. Hopefully starting to exercise with your children when they are young will set them up for a healthy lifestyle as they get older.