Life is feeling unpredictable these days, with the unprecedented novel coronavirus pandemic causing widespread changes across the country and the world. School closures and bans on large gatherings are affecting everyone, including children. With organized sports also being canceled in many areas for the foreseeable future, kids have less daily structure and fewer outlets for their energy.
Regular physical activity has been proven to help alleviate anxiety in both children and adults, so in times like these, staying active is more important than ever. Fortunately, we have lots of great resources and suggestions for ways to keep your kids active at home—including running and walking, two of the most basic ways to move our bodies (and our favorite ones!).
Remember that positive modeling from the important adults in their lives helps children of all ages. Translation: Parents being active with their kids benefits everyone involved! Tackling physical activity as a family will help your children make moving their bodies a lifetime healthy habit, and will help you stay physically and mentally healthy as well.
Free Resources to Get The Whole Family Moving Today
Mileage Log (available in both English and Spanish): Kids and adults can use these logs to track their cumulative mileage on family walks or runs. You can set a goal of covering a marathon (26.2 miles) or more over the next three weeks, and work toward it together!
Walk and Talk Conversation Starters (available in both English and Spanish): Turn family walks around the neighborhood into quality connection time with your kids with our free conversation starters. These wide-ranging topics and questions are designed to stimulate fascinating conversations with kids of all ages (and as you walk and talk, you’re covering miles to check off on your mileage log!).
Fun Warm-Ups: Before you start walking or running with your kids, don’t forget to warm up your bodies first! These activities are guaranteed to make both children and adults giggle as they get their blood pumping.
Running Games: These games require little to no equipment and are a good time for kids (and kids-at-heart) of all ages. They’re a great way to switch things up and keep exercise fun for everyone.
Cool Down and Stretching Ideas: After you work out, it’s always smart to cool down slowly to prevent injuries. Stretch your muscles as a family and show your children how to prepare for the next workout.
More Fun Ways to Keep Your Kids Active at Home, Both Indoors and Outdoors
The following are five more fun (and free!) ways to keep your kids active at home during the coming weeks:
Family dance parties: Turn on some music or watch videos of your favorite tunes and dance it out with the whole family.
Balloon volleyball: Younger kids might love this one best, but people of all ages can get into the laughing fun of working together to keep a balloon aloft. Try to pass it to each other often as you keep it from touching the ground for as long as possible.
Mazes and obstacle courses: These can be set up inside the house or out in the yard, and can involve everyday items you have at home—couch cushions, sheets hung up as “walls,” stuffed animals, living room furniture and so on. Be sure to include your kids in the devising of the course, to engage their imaginations and problem-solving abilities along with their muscles as they navigate over, under, around and through to the finish line.
Family strolls, runs, and races: Along with exercise, fresh air and sunshine also have both mental and physical health benefits. Head outside with the family to walk or jog around the neighborhood, or go for a hike in a nearby, natural space. If you’re wanting to stay close to home, you can do short runs in the backyard or even up and down a hallway inside your home; mark off lines at each end of the space for runners to lean down and touch before returning as quickly as possible to the start.
Interval stations: Set up centers in the house or yard where each family member can perform predetermined physical activities for 30–60 seconds at a time before switching to the next station. Jumping rope, Burpees, mountain climbers, jumping jacks, squats, wall-sits, plyometric jumps, push-ups and running in place are all great options for both kids and adults to stay fit.