Helping Your Kids Get Exercise When They Don't Play Sports

Kids Exercise IdeasOne advantage to having your children play sports is that you know they will be getting the exercise they need to strengthen and develop their bodies. It's a built in perk, along with the fun life lessons and friendships that come with being on a sports team. However, there are tons of fun ways for your kids to stay fit outside of sports. And it's important that they do exercise. After all, there are undisputed benefits that come from exercise like stronger muscles, greater endurance, and bones that are denser and have greater mineral content.

Expert opinions on a child's daily exercise needs range from 30-60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity each day. Scientific research shows that short periods of physical activity--even as little as 10 minutes at a time--performed throughout the day are just as good as longer periods of activity. This means kids can accumulate their 60 minutes in shorter, more achievable chunks of time. For example, they can do 30 minutes of walking, 10 minutes of bike riding and 20 minutes of active playing such as jumping rope or playing tag.

That's great news since it means there are no limits to the combination of physical activities a child can choose to stay healthy. And if you allow your child to lead the way in the types of activities he wants to do, chances are he will not only exercise, but he'll enjoy it, too.

But what about those times when your child is tired of the same old things he's been doing to stay active? Why not post this list of ideas in the kitchen where he can choose a new activity?

  1. Play hopscotch
  2. Run through the sprinklers
  3. Walk the dog
  4. Roller skate/Roller blade
  5. Play tennis, soccer or football at the park
  6. Fly a kite
  7. Organize a water balloon fight
  8. Hoola-hoop
  9. Jump rope
  10. Wash the car
  11. Swim (Try playing games like Marco Polo, Toothpaste, or diving for objects in the
    pool to keep it interesting.)
  12. Ride a bike
  13. Play outdoor games like Duck Duck Goose, Tag, Relay Races, Capture the Flag, or Red Light, Green Light
  14. Shoot hoops in the driveway
  15. Go bowling (Plan a bowling party using SignUpGenius!)
  16. Vacuum!
  17. Wash windows
  18. Turn on the music and dance around the house
  19. Climb a tree
  20. Checkout workout DVDs from the library
  21. Play on the playground at the park
  22. Run, walk or ride your bike around the track at the local high school
  23. Run wheelbarrow races with friends
  24. Go on a hike
  25. On rainy days, try Wii Fit
  26. Go on a treasure/scavenger hunt
  27. Take a walk and go on a photo safari
  28. Play in the puddles after it rains
  29. Work in the garden
  30. Take a night hike
  31. Build a fort outside
  32. Go berry picking
  33. Go canoeing
  34. Create a miniature golf area in your back yard
  35. Play on the Slip'n slide
As Charles B. Corbin, author of more than 80 books on fitness, says, "The single best activity you can do is the one you will do." So arm your kids with ideas for staying active and get out there with them to keep your family healthy.

Janis Meredith writes Jbmthinks, a blog on sports parenting and youth sports. After being a coach's wife for 27 years and a sports parent for 17, she sees issues from both sides of the bench.