Health and Parenting

Raising fit Kids: Move

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Kids imagining magic carpet ride
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Move to Your Imagination

Offer up a few ideas for creative ways to move, and then let your kids' imaginations run free. Encourage them to bend all around like a tree swaying in the wind. Or they can use their arms to spin like a helicopter or zoom like a fire truck through the streets. Show them how to use their arms and legs to cut like scissors or twist their bodies into shapes of letters of the alphabet.

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Kids playing indoor bowling game
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Do-It-Yourself Olympics

Compete in family indoor Olympic events with items around your house (clear away the breakables first!):

Bowling. Set up empty water bottles and knock 'em down with a ball.

Hockey. Grab a squishy ball for a puck and brooms for sticks.

Volleyball. Stretch a piece of string or yarn between two chairs. Hit a balloon back and forth over the line while sitting, on your knees, or with your feet.

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Young girl with hula hoop
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Gather a Hula-Hoop Group

Head to the garage -- or clear some space -- for some Hula-Hoop fun. Kids can exercise different parts of the body by hooping around their waists, arms, or legs. Lay hoops on the floor in patterns so kids can jump from one to another. Or, see who can roll their hoop the farthest.

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Kids playing bouncing ball in kitchen
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Follow the Bouncing Ball

How many ways can your kids bounce a ball? Find out in a room with space to move, a good bouncing floor, and not a lot of breakable stuff. Let them try dribbling close to themselves and far away. Dribble fast and slow. Get a group together and try to bounce balls in sync.

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Family dancing together
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Get Up and Dance

When it's nasty or dark outside, dance up a storm inside. Take turns having family members make up their own dances. Teach kids a line dance. Put on music and play “statues,” where everyone must freeze like a statue whenever the music stops. Or just have a dance party with family or friends.

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Teen boy juggling
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Make a Circus

Turn your family room into the big top. Do balancing stunts, juggle, create tumbling routines, and even get your pet in the act. If you're feeling especially ambitious, make it a weeklong activity. Family members can practice each day to polish their acts. Then create costumes, invite neighbors, and put on a show.

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Kids playing balancing game indoors
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Cool Balancing Stunts

Working in pairs, you and your kids can use different body parts to balance.

  • Clear some space for safe play.
  • Standing toe-to-toe, hold hands and lean back slowly, pretending to sit on a chair. See how long you can sit on your “air chairs.”
  • Switch positions. Sitting on the floor -- back-to-back, feet flat on the ground -- lock arms and push against each other to stand up together. Then sit down.

 

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Boys playing move video games
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Get Your Exergame On

Any gaming system can become more active when you encourage kids to stand and move while they play. Or choose an “exergame,” where moving is part of the game, such as Dance Dance Revolution. Kids dance on colored arrows on a step pad, following visual and musical cues. Other gaming systems let you play different sports, including snowboarding, tennis, and tennis.

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Child pretending to be a cat
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Let Your Kids Go Wild

You say your house is a zoo? Then get your kids moving by pretending they're different animals. They can inch along the floor like worms, jump like kangaroos, kick and buck like wild horses, or creep like crocodiles, dragging their legs behind them. Have them slither or hop under, on, and around furniture.

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Kids having a wheelbarrow race
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A Day at the Races

These fun races can help build strength and balance:

  • Wheelbarrow race. Walk on your hands while your partner “steers” by holding your legs.
  • Beanbag race. Walk-race with a beanbag on your head or clutched between your legs.
  • Crab race. Sit on the floor so your feet are flat, put your hands on the floor a little behind you, and push up onto your hands and feet. Scuttle backward or forward to the finish line.

 

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Mother and daughter practicing yoga
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Get Bendy With Yoga

Help kids get a good stretch by striking some yoga poses. It helps them practice body awareness, balance, posture, and concentration. Try the modified lotus pose shown here:

1. Sit in a cross-legged position.

2. Put one foot on top of the opposite thigh. Do the same with the other foot.

3. Or place feet in a way that's comfortable (like the photo) to keep knees touching the ground.

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Child playing hide and seek
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Old-Fashioned Games

Your kids can have fun with the same games you played when you were their age. Simple activities like hide-and-seek and scavenger hunts can offer great exercise indoors. Give “follow the leader” a fitness makeover by focusing on activities such as jumping jacks or running up and down stairs.

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Kids having indoor snowball fight
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Have an Indoor Snowball Fight

You don't need snow to let your kids have a snow day. First, clear away breakables. Then, make snowballs by wadding up white socks, scrunching paper or tissue into balls, or squeezing and taping cotton balls together. If you want to really get serious, let the kids build forts with pillows, empty boxes, and blankets for hiding. Then stand back as they launch their attacks.

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Indoor parachute games
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Playing With a 'Parachute'

You don't need a parachute to play fun parachute-style games -- all you need is a bedsheet, a large space like a garage, and a group of friends. Try putting balls on top of the sheet and have kids shake it vigorously to “pop” them like popcorn.

Or play parachute tag: 

1. Have everyone lift the “parachute” high.

2. Get two people to try to run underneath and trade places before it comes down.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 11/09/2018 Reviewed by Amita Shroff, MD on November 09, 2018

IMAGES PROVIDED BY:

  1. Andrea Chu / Riser
  2. Steve Pomberg
  3. Michele Constantini / PhotoAlto
  4. Steve Pomberg
  5. Steve Pomberg
  6. Hans Bjurling
  7. Steve Pomberg
  8. Camille Tokerud / Taxi
  9. Philippe McClelland / Stone
  10. Steve Pomberg
  11. Steve Casimiro / The Image Bank
  12. BLOOMimage
  13. Steve Pomberg
  14. Art Vandalay / Photodisc

REFERENCES:

Alliance for a Healthier Generation.

American Council on Exercise.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of San Luis Obispo.

Buckley, A. The Kids' Yoga Deck: 50 Poses and Games, Chronicle Books, 2006.

Chicago Children's Museum.

Food Link New York.

FunAndGames.org

Get Kids In Action.

Parents' Choice: Children's Media & Toy Reviews.

Party Game Ideas.

P.E. Central.

Pennington Biomedical Research Center.

President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.

The New International Standard Medical & Health Encyclopedia.

U.S. Scouting Service Project.

YMCA of Northwest North Carolina.

Yoga 4 Kids.

Reviewed by Amita Shroff, MD on November 09, 2018

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.