Getting kids to exercise doesn’t have to be a chore. Just get them to do what kids do best: play!
- The Floor Is Lava
Every kid since the dawn of time has played some variation of this game. It’s fun when you’re at the park and you’re on the jungle gym, but it’s just as doable at home with whatever’s lying around.
You know the drill: gather up cushions, sheets of paper, or whatever you have and scatter them around a large space. The kids have to navigate the room by exclusively touching the “safe” spots that you’ve established together. The floor is hot lava, and if they touch it, they’re “out.”
You can either turn it into a race or timed competition to see how quickly they can cross the pretend-volcanic terrain, or you can turn it into a fierce form of tag. In the tag version, one person starts out as the “lava monster” and can try to tag the players as they scamper around on their safe zones. If they fall in the lava or get tagged by the monster, they can also become lava monsters for an extra challenge.
Their hearts will get pumping, they’ll be making explosive jumping movements across the lava, and their coordination and balance will be tested. It’s a great way to get them tuckered out!
- Laser Beam Obstacle Course
You know in the movies the jewel thief always has to carefully maneuver through a field of laser beams that could trigger an alarm? They had to rely on flexibility, core strength, and endurance in order to make it through.
Your kids can play at exciting espionage while getting in a workout! Find a space, and get some string. (Bonus points if it’s the classic laser-red!) Place a prize in the center of the space, then zigzag the string across the room until you have a substantial web around the prize. You can affix the string to bare walls with a bit of painter’s tape, or you can simply hook it around doorknobs, stair banisters, or whatever is available.
You can up the challenge level by overlapping the string more. Your kids will now have to inch their way through the crisscrossing string in order to get to the prize in the center and back out without touching the string and triggering the “alarm.” Think of it as a more dynamic and challenging game of Twister!
- Kid-Friendly Paintball
Paintball is one of many adults’ favorite fun ways to get exercise. It gets you up and running, dodging, crouching and hiding, and does wonders for cardio. But it’s not particularly safe for kids.
This version divides kids into teams, just like you would with traditional paintball. But instead of wielding dangerous and painful pain pellet guns, give them plain old water guns. Fill them with water that’s been dyed with food coloring. Dress the kids in light-colored or white clothes that you wouldn’t care about ruining with the dye.
It’s best if you do this in big outdoor space with plenty of obstacles and things to dart around behind, just like a real paintball course. When the kids are hit with the colored water, they’re out. Once everyone’s out, count how many shirts have been marked by each team’s color. The team with the most “outs” wins.