For kids to unplug all year round, physical activities for kids are essential for social, emotional, mental, and physical health.
Today’s kids spend significantly more of their time plugged in than their parents did when they were young. From e-reading to educational activities and socializing with their friends. That being said, you want them to move!
These tips will encourage your kids to unplug year-round.
Beyond Physical Health
Just like adults, children require a mix of aerobic activity and strength training. Unlike adults, most of their activities should incorporate play. Make it a family activity, and you’ll get some exercise too.
Kids are busier than ever, so rest should be built into their weekly schedule—even on the weekends. We all know how amazing a lazy morning or lazy day can feel, but also how down and drained we can feel if we don’t engage physically, socially, or mentally. The same is true for kids, so try to balance it.
Mass General Brigham outlines the widespread benefits of exercise for kids, particularly when speaking of group and team activities. This includes:
- Improved social, motor, and emotional skills.
- Improved mood, concentration, and attention.
- Decreased anxiety and depression.
- Lower risk of suicidal thoughts.
- Fewer at-home and classroom behavioral issues.
- Better academic performance.
- Lower risk of addiction in high school students.
- Minimizes hyperactivity and impulsiveness.
- Improved lung, heart, and brain health.
- Building strength and minimizing the risk of obesity.
- Increased endorphins and feel-good chemicals in the brain.
- Helping the body physically adapt to external stressors.
Adults achieve the same benefits when we incorporate more movement into our day, but sometimes we’re a bit more mindful of how things benefit our children. So, participate in your kid’s activities as much as possible.
What if My Child Isn’t Into Traditional Sports?
No worries if one or more of your children isn’t athletically inclined as there are a variety of physical activities for kids of every age, skill, and interest level.
Focus first and foremost on keeping things fun and trying new things. Many activities double as play, creativity, mental stimulation, socialization, and exercise. So, if they are up and moving, it counts.
For example, head to an indoor pool, the lake, or the beach. While your child probably won’t swim laps, they will play. Encourage play by bringing water toys such as a beach ball and floaty devices. Make it a family activity or invite friends, cousins, and other family members. A few options other than traditional sports include:
- Bike rides
- Dance or gymnastics
- Ice skating
- Rollerblading/roller skating
- Snowball fight
- Martial arts
- Playing frisbee
- Playing fetch with the dog
- Tennis or table tennis
- Indoor rock climbing
- Trips to the park
What Can I Purchase for At-Home Use?
Invest in games and toys that encourage physical activity. Most games and toys will pique their interest more when you first bring them home, so have enough that you can alternate.
Think beyond the at-home exercise tools marketed to adults and look for age-appropriate options. Many activities geared toward creativity can lead to physical and social activities. For example, sidewalk chalk often leads to hopscotch and games kids invent on their own.
Also, look for a mix of solo activities and activities that require at least one other person. This encourages your children to play together or to invite friends or neighbors to play.
- Hide and seek
- Hula hoop
- Jump rope
- Bubble wands
- Active e-games
- Giant Jenga
- Water balloons fight
- Flying a kite
- DIY obstacle course
- DIY scavenger hunt
Do I Have to Plan Everything Myself?
Nope! Lighten your load by utilizing your resources to identify fun physical activities for your kids.
Encourage your kids to come up with solo and group ideas, and have everyone in the family take turns choosing your family activities. You won’t always be able to do everything as a family, but when you can—you build meaningful memories at the same time.
This can include trips to the aquarium, traditional museums, and kid’s museums that incorporate hands-on activities to stimulate creative and analytical thinking. Even if the activities aren’t super physical, your kids will be out of the house, enriching their minds, and they’ll get a long walk in.
Most libraries, community centers, and parks and recs programs have year-round children’s activity schedules. Any activity that gets them unplugged on their feet!
What About Traditional Sports?
Yes, of course! If your kids have a sport or two that they enjoy, look for seasonal teams, clubs, leagues, and sports camps. The range of at-home sports training gear has never been more impressive, so explore new options.
Children are like sponges, so they crave new experiences. So, even if they already have go-to sports and activities, ask them a few times a year if there’s something new that they want to try. They may find an activity they love, and they may not. Either way, they have a new experience!
If it’s in the budget, you could invest in live-streamed or in-person one-on-one training. Since they play hard and grow fast, check to ensure their gear is sound and make some investments so they can practice at home and play with their friends.
Speaking of friends, the more group activities kids participate in, the more opportunities they have to make new friends. Some teammates will only be teammates, but some will become friends outside of their activities.
Don’t Forget to Ask For Help!
Not sure how to get your kids to and from the physical activities above? Or need help facilitating them? Lean on your tribe. Your partner, grandparents, aunties, uncles, family of choice, friends, and other parents.
We can’t do it all at 100% all the time, so let your village know what you need!