Physical and mental health are at a premium these days, which makes getting kids moving more important than ever. With COVID-19 concerns now in the mix, it can feel like a real challenge to help kids reach their daily physical activity goals indoors while keeping a safe distance from each other – but it is possible. When it’s too hot, cold or wet to have PE outside, there are plenty of great indoor options to get your students moving while still staying safe. Here are seven of the best safe distance indoor PE games.
Also, don’t forget – Marathon Kids Connect is a great and easy way to log kids’ daily physical activity! It’s not just for running or walking, either; 20 minutes of any heart-pounding physical activity counts as one mile. Marathon Kids programming is available to any school or community organization for FREE through Marathon Kids Connect, our cloud-based digital lap-tracking app and reporting platform. Whether kids are at school or doing distance-learning from home, parents, teachers and coaches can use the app to report kids’ physical activity, track their progress and celebrate milestones.
Here are seven of the best safe distance indoor PE games for days when you have to stay inside:
Yoga, at its simplest, is gentle strength-training combined with stretching, and it helps kids (and adults!) develop mindfulness – all of which has been shown to reduce anxiety, improve mood and increase physical strength and wellbeing. Best of all, yoga is a naturally socially distant PE activity. Sounds like an all-around win for living a healthy life in the midst of a global pandemic! Have kids sit six feet apart, or mark off each student’s spot on the floor with tape or colored paper. Then lead them through a series of basic yoga moves – downward dog, cat/cow stretches, cobra pose and more. Start and finish with a few moments of quiet, deep breathing to increase relaxation and mindfulness. Everyone will feel refreshed and ready to focus on academics once again!
2. READY, SET, GO!
Racing is another naturally solo sport, which makes it perfect for a safe distance PE activity. And kids can definitely race indoors, whether you’re in a classroom, a hallway or the gym. Set up cones six feet apart along two opposing walls of the hallway or room; if possible, use cones of different colors along one wall, and the same, coordinating colors along the opposite wall. That way, kids can start at a certain cone on one side of the room, and when the teacher says “Go,” they can run toward the same color of cone on the other side. Increase the length of the race by having kids run a certain number of laps, or make it an interval-training session by having them run from one cone to the other and then walk back, repeating as desired.
While masks are an important part of keeping ourselves and others safe, Marathon Kids does not recommend that kids wear masks when running. Read more about best practices for Safe Distance Running.
A bit like tennis played with a Wiffle Ball and large, wooden, ping-pong-style paddles, Pickleball is perfect for safely distanced indoor play, especially if you have a smaller class or plenty of space for groups of students to play multiple games at once. Pickleball develops students’ hand-eye coordination and strategy skills while encouraging teamwork among them. Best of all, it’s easy for kids to stay six-plus-feet apart while playing together.
4. SHARK ZONE
Shark Zone is fun when it’s played in teams, but it can be adapted as a safe distance PE game by having students navigate the obstacle course in staggered, one-by-one phases. Set it up by laying out mats throughout the gym – blue if possible! – and then setting up a series of items on top of the mats that students can stand on while moving from one to the next without touching the mats. These items might include balance beams, benches, chairs, wooden boards and so on. Tell the students the mats are the shark-infested waters, and the items on top are the safe zone. Their task is to strategize a way to move safely from one safe zone to the next without ever falling to the mat.
5. FITNESS BINGO
Fitness Bingo is a fun spin on circuit training, and it’s easy for kids to do at a safe distance from one another. Mark off spots on the floor that are six feet apart or more, and give students Bingo-style sheets with exercises listed in the squares, along with a target number of repetitions or length of time for each exercise. These might include 10 pushups, burpees or jumping-jacks; 20 seconds of mountain-climbers, jumping rope or running in place; and so on. Students stand in their marked-off sections with a Fitness Bingo sheet and a marker to mark off which activities they complete as the teacher calls them out. The first person to call out “Fitness Bingo!” when they’ve marked off all their squares gets to lead the next round!
6. RED LIGHT, GREEN LIGHT
This classic, simple movement game can be a safe distance indoor PE game if you have a smaller class or a larger space. Use masking or painter’s tape to delineate lines from one side of the room to the other side that are six feet apart. Students can line up, one per taped line, and follow these lines to maintain their distance as they follow the teacher’s cues. “Green light” means everyone advances toward the finish line; “red light” means everyone freezes in place as quickly as possible. The game ends when everyone has crossed the finish line. The movements students use in moving toward the finish line are up to them and the teacher to decide; they can speed-walk, run, skip, dance, or do jumping jacks, high-knees, lunges, or even burpees. The possibilities are limitless!
7. INDOOR FREE-PLAY STATIONS
Many kids love having free choice and autonomy built into their school day, and indoor PE days are perfect for blending these elements with movement and fun. Set up stations at a safe distance around the gym (or wherever you’re meeting with students) and have children cycle through activities of their choice. These can include activities that develop their endurance, balance, and strength along with their persistence, spatial awareness, and hand-eye coordination. Try activities like hula-hooping, underhand throwing with bean bags, jumping rope, jumping-jacks, long jumps, pushups, planks, burpees, high-knees, or running in place.