In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that children and adolescents get at least one hour of physical activity each day. It shouldn’t be breaking news that children need exercise. In fact, we are all aware that increased exercise for kids will promote healthy development, prevent chronic disease, and decrease problems such as obesity.

Helping kids enjoy being active will set them up to become stronger and healthier teens and adults. Childhood obesity has become a serious epidemic over the last decade, and there are many contributing factors; however, one of the biggest causes is that kids have become more sedentary over the past 10 years or so. In other words, they’re spending a lot more time sitting than they used to. Kids are spending several hours every day in front of a screen (TVs, smartphones, tablets, and other devices). For most kids, there is far too much screen time and not enough physical activity, which can lead to the greater problem of childhood obesity.

This guide will include a list of resources and articles about activities and exercises for children in grades K-12 with the goal of promoting a healthier and more active lifestyle.

kids with feet propped up on skateboard and soccer ball

Physical Exercises and Games in the Home

Whether it’s raining, snowing, or your family is staying indoors to avoid the heat, there are plenty of indoor exercises kids and parents can enjoy together. You can steer your children away from sedentary screen time and get them moving around. Most of these games and exercises for kids can be done from your living room or other large space. Some of these exercises for kids can even help finish chores around the house.

25 Indoor Games and Exercises for Children  

Physical Activities for Around The House

Toddler Activities

87 Exercises and Games for Indoors for Family

Home Exercises for Teens

Outdoor Games and Activities

There are many ways to get your family moving with fun outdoor activities and games. This is the perfect time for some family bonding and team building. Weather it’s in the backyard, park, or in front of your home, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the outdoors. Listed below are some exercises for kids and adults to enjoy.

5 Games to Play in the Park With Your Kids

10 Ways to Exercise As a Family

Toddler Activities

Outdoor Activities for Teens

30 Outdoor Games for Kids

10 Motor Activities You Can Do Outside

Physical Exercises and Games in the Classroom

Students are usually sitting in a classroom for long periods of time without ever getting up for a stretch. It is important for teachers to help their students add some sort of activity between long periods of sitting down. Listed below are some ways to improve exercises for kids and children in a classroom.

12 Classroom Fitness Activities for K-12 Students

Promoting Physical Fitness for Students K-5

Engaging Classroom Games for Ages K-12

6 Games for Grades 1-8

kids running ladder drills

Active Extracurricular Activities

Sports and extracurricular activities are a great way for children to get moving and build social skills at the same time. For example, you may not associate gyms with exercises for children, but some specialized gyms such as rock climbing, gymnastics, or trampoline gyms can offer a great way for children to explore new activities and have fun exercising. The resources below can help you learn more about various activities and pick the right ones for your child.

Benefits of Indoor Rock Climbing Ages 6 and Higher

Benefits of Indoor Trampoline Gyms for Ages 8 and Higher

The Pluses and Minuses of Various Youth Sports

Benefits of Youth Swimming

YouTube Exercise Videos for Kids

Help Picking a Sport for Your Kids

Ideas for the Playground

You might find yourself always doing the same activities in the playground and feel like spicing it up. Going to the playground is a simple way to get kids moving and an effective way to target nearly every developmental skill under the sun. Whether a child is just learning to walk, or they tend to seek out more movement than other kids, or even if they’re a little more hesitant and cautious, there’s a way to get everyone involved. There are plenty of exercises for children to enjoy in the playground setting. Most kids can’t get enough of those slides, swings, ladders, and other features that a playground has to offer. Here are some games and activities for kids to enjoy at the playground.

How Playgrounds Can Help Your Child’s Development

Playground Games and Activities For Kids

6 Playground Games for Kids

Playground Games For Family to Enjoy

Maintaining an Active Family

As you try to balance work and family, be aware that research shows active parents raise active children. Physical activity should be a high priority in a family’s daily schedule. The American Heart Association recommends that healthy children, age 2 and older, participate in an hour of moderate to vigorous activity every day. Doing so can work to prevent heart disease, cancer, and stroke. While an hour each day might sound like a large chunk of time, there are many ways to incorporate activity into your family’s routine.

They may include the following:

  • Music Equals Movement: Whether or not your child loves to dance, it’s hard to stay still during a great song. Incorporate music into your environment, and lead a family dance party.
  • Take it Outside: The first step is to get out of the house, regardless of the season. Summer can mean swimming or playing kickball in the yard, among many other fun activities, but winter can still offer opportunities for a snowball fight or snowshoeing.
  • Skip the Screens: Designating time for academics (and even fun and games) on a device is important, since kids may become more interested in being entertained than finding ways to get out and move.
  • Create a Chore Competition Chart: There’s plenty of exercise in housework, and getting the kids involved benefits everyone. Create a chart with various household chores, like making a bed, vacuuming, washing the windows, or carrying laundry up and down the stairs. Assigning time limits to speed up the chore can be fun, competitive among siblings and increase heart rates at the same time.