16 Simple Exercises For Kids To Do At Home

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Children aged six to 17 years are recommended a minimum of 60 minutes of physical exercise daily. This target can be achieved by doing simple exercises for kids at home, contrary to the belief that only complex exercises or strenuous outdoor sports are helpful. Children are increasingly getting used to a sedentary lifestyle, which is detrimental to their physical and psychological development.

According to the National Survey of Children’s Health 2020-2021, only 14.8% of children aged 12 to 17 years, compared to 26.3% of children aged 6 to 11 years, are active for 60 minutes or more daily.

Physical activity and fitness are important at all ages but very important for overall growth during childhood. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, regular exercise helps develop stronger bones, greater muscle strength, improved energy levels, flexibility, and better concentration in academics (1) (2). Read this post to learn some easy yet effective exercises that your child can practice at home.

In This Article

16 Fun Exercises For Kids To Do At Home

Aerobic Exercises

Aerobic exercises are physical exercises that increase the heart rate by increasing the oxygen consumption of an individual. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that most of your child’s 60 minutes of daily physical activity should be aerobic activities, like walking, running, or anything that makes their hearts beat faster (2). This is important as cardio exercises help strengthen the heart muscles.

1. Cycling

Cycling is an easy workout for the ankle and thighs (3). Besides, it relaxes the mind and body by letting the child enjoy the scenic beauty around.

How to

  1. Find a suitable location for your child to cycle.
  2. Make sure it’s in a greener area, far from traffic.
  3. Make sure that your kid wears the correct riding gear – long-sleeved tees, long pants, covered shoes, knee, and elbow pads.
  4. The child must wear a helmet that fits their size.
  5. Let them cycle during the daytime or afternoons and not after dark.

Possible benefits

protip_icon Did you know?
Cyclists inhale less pollution from traffic when compared to car drivers. Moreover, many teachers believe that children who cycle to school stay more alert in the classroom (20).

2. Skipping

Rope skipping is a simple and effective morning exercise that can enhance physical fitness and improve agility and stamina in children. It also relieves stress and improves blood circulation (4).

How to

  1. Choose the right rope — one that’s not too long and one that reaches nearly the shoulders when folded in half.
  2. The ropes should have handles that are comfortable to grip – neither too light nor too heavy.
  3. Stand up and hold the rope handles in both hands.
  4. Extend the hands and forearms a foot away from the body at an angle of 45°.
  5. Step over the rope; the rope will hang behind.
  6. Without moving the hands, use wrists to swing it over the head.
  7. Hop over when the rope comes towards the front of the feet.
  8. Use the ankles, but do not bend the knees, to jump.
  9. For a safe exercise, pick up a comfortable pace.

Possible benefits

  • Regulates the heart rate
  • Tones the upper and lower body muscles
  • Improves balance, agility, and coordination
  • Prevents diseases like osteoporosis
  • One of the finest exercises for weight loss
  • Works out the whole body

3. Running

Running is a full-body workout that can vary in intensity. This exercise burns a lot of energy and demands more effort from the heart, lungs, and muscles. It is also an easy exercise since it requires minimal equipment (5).

How to

  1. Warm-up with jumping jacks, hopping, or doing arm swings or arm circles. This will prepare the muscles for a good run.
  2. Look ahead on the ground to avoid tripping.
  3. While running, land midfoot and not on the toes, as landing on toes will make the calves tighter.
  4. Keep the feet pointed straight ahead.
  5. Keep the hands at the waist level while running and not too up the chest.
  6. The hands and arms should be as relaxed as possible while running.
  7. Keep checking the postures — head high, back straight and level, shoulders relaxed.

Possible benefits

  • Maintains weight
  • Boosts confidence
  • Relieves stress
  • Tones the legs
  • Helps fight depression

protip_icon Quick fact
Running can help children learn how to change directions rapidly and reduce speed. This skill also helps them excel in other sports (21).

4. Jogging

Jogging means sustained running at a slow and steady pace. When compared to running, jogging is less taxing and requires less energy, but can be sustained for a longer time.

How to

  1. Find a safe route to jog.
  2. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes.
  3. Start with a warm-up before jogging.
  4. Pick up a slow but good pace.
  5. Keep the head straight and look ahead.
  6. Don’t hunch the shoulders; keep the hips stable and don’t let them swing.

Possible benefits

  • Improves cardiovascular health
  • Strengthens muscles
  • Builds strong bones
  • Helps maintain a steady bodyweight
  • Provides freshness to the mind and reduces fatigue

Strength Training Exercises

A set of exercises that work on muscle-building, bone-strengthening, and enhancing stamina comes under strength training exercises. Children and adolescents are recommended to invest three days a week into such activities (2).

5. Planks

It is an ideal exercise for strengthening vital core muscles covering the abdomen, back, hips, and pelvis. This exercise could also help improve posture and strengthen the muscles of the lower back (6).

How to

  1. Rest the forearms on the ground.
  2. Keep the arms parallel to the body at a shoulder-width distance.
  3. Look at a spot on the floor to have the spine and neck neutralized.
  4. Keep the head in line with the back.
  5. Slightly lift the legs and the core a little upwards with the tip of the toes on the ground and hold it. Leg lifts might be difficult in the beginning, so take time to master it gradually.
  6. The weight of the body will be distributed between the forearms and toes.
  7. Retain the position for 30 seconds to a minute. Do multiple sets of 30 seconds to a minute in one exercise session.

Possible benefits

  • Eliminates back pain
  • Gives a toned belly
  • Improves posture and balance
  • Enhances muscle flexibility

6. Push-ups

A push-up is a common calisthenics exercise that provides a complete body workout. During push-ups, several muscle groups such as the arms, chest, abdomen, hips, and legs get exercised at once (7).

How to

  1. Lie face-down on the floor. The weight of the body will be on the chest.
  2. The hands are to be palms-down on the floor.
  3. Raise the body using the arms, with weight supported by the hands and the balls of the feet.
  4. Go down by lowering the torso on the ground, as the elbows make a 90° angle.
  5. Keep the head facing ahead, and the body straight through the exercise.
  6. Breathe in as you move down and breathe out while rising.
  7. The push strength should come from the chest and the shoulders together.
  8. Repeat this lowering and lifting steadily, if you are comfortable.

Possible benefits

  • Good for the cardiovascular system
  • Prevents lower back injuries
  • Improves posture
  • Good for working out all the body muscles

7. Crunches

Crunches are a multi-joint exercise that focuses on abdominal muscles. It could help improve agility and the overall fitness levels of the child.

How to

  1. Lie flat on the floor with feet hip-width apart.
  2. Keep the knees bent.
  3. Interlace the hands behind the head, with the thumbs behind the ears.
  4. Tilt the chin slightly up.
  5. Start pulling the abdomen inwards gently.
  6. Curl up by lifting the neck, head, and shoulder blades off the ground.
  7. Hold the posture for a moment and lower the body to the ground, slowly.

Possible benefits

  • Builds the core strength
  • Increases the flexibility of the torso
  • Works out all the abdominal muscles

8. Forward lunges

The forward lunge focuses on improving the strength of the muscles and joints in the hips, knees, and ankles. Besides, it helps improve balance and core stability (8). This is a one-leg bodyweight exercise with good leverage.

How to

  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart and keep the back straight.
  2. Look straight onto a wall, as that helps in balancing.
  3. Move the right leg forward and lean the body ahead — 70% of the bodyweight will now be on the front foot. Make sure that the upper body and the back are still straight.
  4. Lower the body until the right knee makes a 90° angle. Keep the back straight.
  5. The lower leg must be parallel to the ground, and the thighs perpendicular.
  6. Use the right foot to push upward and return to the 90° position.
  7. Repeat this forward lunge with the other leg.

Possible benefits

  • Strengthens the legs and hips
  • Great for the core strength
  • Improves flexibility
  • Enhances body symmetry
  • Good for spinal health

9. Stretching

Stretching is a safe and useful activity that can help improve flexibility and postural awareness (9). Besides being an exercise, stretching is also imperative before starting any other physical activity.

How to

  1. Sit with the back straight.
  2. Stretch both the legs as wide as comfortable.
  3. Hold the right knee with the right hand.
  4. Lift the left hand to the top of the head and lean towards the right.
  5. While leaning rightwards, stretch the left part of the body as much as you comfortably can.
  6. Keep breathing normally.
  7. Repeat it on the other side.

Possible benefits

  • Increases the range of movement in the joints
  • Reduces tension in muscles
  • Improves muscle coordination
  • Enhances blood circulation in the body
protip_icon Quick tip
Children should stretch at least twice or thrice a week. While stretching, each stretch should hold for 30 to 60 seconds and be pain-free (20).

10. Bridge lift

Bridge lift is a core strengthening exercise that works on the arms, thighs, abs, and hips (10).

How to

  1. Lie flat on the back; keep the hands on the sides, and the knees bent.
  2. Place the feet shoulder-width apart.
  3. Pushing the body with the heels, lift the hips off the ground while keeping the back straight.
  4. Breathe out and hold the position for about a second.
  5. Come back to the initial position while breathing in.

Possible benefits

  • Reduces lower back and knee pain
  • Strengthens the glutes
  • Improves body posture
  • Strengthens the core
  • Stretches the chest, back, and spine
  • Enhances flexibility and improves balance

11. Backstretch (child pose)

This is a non-twisting pose of yoga that works well on back muscles. It can also relax strained back muscles, along with the muscles of the arms and shoulders.

How to

  1. Kneel on the mat with the hips on the heels.
  2. Keeping the toes together, open the knees hip-distance apart.
  3. Lean forward and drape the body over the thighs, so that the forehead rests on the floor.
  4. Stretch the arms straight to the front.
  5. While maintaining this pose, breathe deeply and relax.

Possible benefits

  • Stretches the thighs, ankles, and hips
  • Reduces stress and fatigue
  • Relaxes the upper body muscles
  • Aids digestion
  • Elongates the lower back

12. Squats

It is an effective strength training exercise that requires several muscles in your upper and lower body to work simultaneously (11). Squats might help lose weight and manage obesity.

How to

  1. Keep the feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Bend the knees like sitting on a chair while holding the heels on the ground.
  3. While doing this, pull in the abs and keep the back straight.
  4. Push the hips back and lower as much as it’s comfortable.
  5. Inhale while lowering and exhale while rising.

Possible benefits

  • Improves blood circulation
  • No cellulite formation
  • Good for the digestive system
  • The non-impact exercise does not strain the neck
  • Can be done anywhere, without any accessories
  • Burns unnecessary fat and maintains bodyweight

13. Overhead shoulder stretch

Stretching might help the muscles to perform better. This overhead shoulder and hand exercise is an arm workout to help strengthen the muscles.

How to

  1. Stand straight with the shoulders slightly stretched back, feet shoulder-width apart, and chest forward.
  2. Raise the left arm over the head, bending the elbow and placing the hand behind the neck.
  3. With the right hand, grasp the left elbow and gently give it a pull behind the head.
  4. Hold this stretch.
  5. Relax the body, repeat with the other arm.

Possible benefits

  • Improves the flexibility of the shoulder muscles, making them stronger
  • Increases the range of movement
  • Releases stress and enable proper circulation of blood
  • Alleviates fatigue after a stressful day
  • Can be done anytime and anywhere

14. Splits

Splits stretch the thighs and pelvis muscles substantially, thus improving the overall flexibility of the lower body. This exercise requires constant practice to achieve a perfect split.

How to

  1. Sit on the ground and stretch the legs out to the side.
  2. Bend forward, stretching your arms, and bring the chest as close to the floor as possible.
  3. While straightening, take deep breaths.

Possible benefits

  • Stretches the thigh muscles
  • Opens the hip flexors
  • Develops perseverance
  • Strengthens the muscles

15. Side leg raise

The side leg raise could help strengthen and tone the muscles of the hips and inner thighs (12).

How to

  1. Lie down on one side.
  2. Extend the arm close to the floor and fold it at the elbow to support the head with the hand.
  3. Bend the other arm with the hand on the floor in front of the body.
  4. Place the legs one above the other and keep them straight.
  5. Slowly raise the top leg as high as possible while supporting the body with both the arms.
  6. Hold the position for a few seconds and return to the starting position.

Possible benefits

  • Builds glutes and hip muscles
  • Improves the adductor muscle group, which is essential for everyday activities like balancing, walking, and lifting things
  • Makes movements more comfortable and stress-free
  • Tones the thigh and hip muscles
  • Increases lean muscle mass
  • Reduces excess fat

16. Crab Walk

Crab Walk

It’s a playful exercise that can effortlessly turn your child’s workout time into a delightful adventure full of fun moves. This simple exercise can help strengthen their core muscles and improve their balancing capabilities (13) (14).

How to

1.  Sit down with your hands by your side. Your fingers should be pointing toward your feet.

  1. Push up your body by balancing the weight on your hands and feet. This pose represents a table.
  2. Keep the hips high up to engage your core muscles.
  3. Begin to move by walking sideways. Alternate the movement of your hands and feet to create a crab-like motion.

Possible benefits

  • Stimulates the nerve cells in the brain, which facilitate attention and focus
  • Builds motor planning abilities
  • Improves muscle strength
  • Helps in channeling energy and bringing back focus
  • Helps in recovering from anxiety and overstimulation

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How can children exercise easily at home?

To encourage your children to exercise at home, include exercise in their daily routine, choose fun and age-appropriate exercises, plan a convenient time and place for them to exercise, and join in with them (15).

2. Should children exercise before school?

Yes. A study conducted on children with ADHD and typically developing kids showed improved cognitive responses and attentiveness in children if they exercised before school (16).

3. Can exercise help improve children’s mental health?

Regular physical activity can help release feel-good hormones called endorphins, which help improve mood, energy levels, and sleep quality. It can also help improve attention, concentration, and analytical skills. These positive effects can help better academic performance, which can help increase resilience, self-confidence, and self-esteem (17).

4. How can parents make exercise fun and enjoyable for their kids?

Select an age-appropriate physical activity or exercise that your child enjoys. Ensure they have enough time and a suitable place. Participate in the activity or exercise with your child and emphasize fun. Provide them with active toys, such as balls and jump ropes, and ensure they are safe for your child. Introduce them to new activities, such as hiking or bike riding, to kick off boredom (15).

5. What are some strength-building exercises that are safe for children to do?

Climbing trees, sit-ups, gymnastics, swinging on playground equipment, and tug-of-war are some strength building exercises children between 6 and 13 years of age can regularly enjoy (18).

6. How important is stretching for kids before and after exercise?

Stretching before and after exercise helps reduce the risk of injury, improve flexibility, increase blood flow, and promote overall wellness. However, remember, the type and timing of stretching vary among individuals depending on the exercise performed (19).

Children are recommended an hour of physical activity every day for their overall health and development. Aerobic activities, such as walking, jogging, running, rope skipping, are whole-body cardio exercises that improve heart and muscle strength. Whereas planks, push-ups, forward lunges, and other strength training exercises help strengthen core muscles and improve posture. Children require parental encouragement at first, and including physical activities in family time is a good way to do it. You can make a weekly schedule of exercises for kids at home or involve your children in sports such as football, badminton, basketball, or martial arts such as karate to achieve fitness goals enjoyably. You can even add music and dancing steps to the exercise routine so that children look forward to the time.

Infographic: Home Exercises For Children, Along With Their Benefits

Given the current lifestyle and eating habits, exercising is integral to a child’s overall health and well-being. They can also help build confidence and ensure mental well-being in children. So, look at the infographic below to learn about simple exercises and their advantages for your child.

how can home workouts benefit your child (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Key Pointers

  • One hour of physical activity is essential for everyone, especially growing children.
  • Regular exercise helps in developing stronger bones, greater muscle strength, improved energy levels, flexibility, and better focus on academics.
  • Physical activity should consist of activities that elevate heart rate such as walking, aerobics, or running.
  • Include exercise in your child’s daily routine and choose a convenient time.
  • Opt for age-appropriate activities to get your child excited about moving their bodies.

Get your kids moving with this fun and easy workout! Learn how to do belly and leg exercises at home with this helpful video.


MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.

1. Physical Activity = Better Health; American Academy of Pediatrics
2. How much physical activity do children need?; Centers For Disease Control And Prevention
3. Let’s Ride Our Bikes to School!; University of South Florida
4. Rope Skipping for Fun; Government of Hong Kong
5. Running and jogging – health benefits; Better Health Channel; Victoria State Government
6. 7 health benefits of plank exercises; Healthcorps
7. The rise of push-ups: A classic exercise that can help you get stronger; Harvard Health
8. Lunges; University of California, Davis
9. Mindful Stretching Guide; University Health Services – UC Berkeley
10. Effect of modified bridge exercise on trunk muscle activity in healthy adults: a cross sectional study; ScienceDirect
11. The lowdown on squats; Harvard Health
12. Straight-Leg Raise to the Outside; British Columbia
13. Act Like An Animal, 13 Moves to Help Your Child’s Gross Motor Development; Pathways
14. Crab Walking; The Motor Story
15. 11 Ways to Encourage Your Child to Be Physically Active; American Academy of Pediatrics
16. Betsy Hoza et al.; A Randomized Trial Examining the Effects of Aerobic Physical Activity on Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Symptoms in Young Children; Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology (2016)
17. Physical Activity and Mental Health: What is the Connection?; Massachusetts General Hospital
18. Strengthening Exercises for Kids; Stanford Medicine Children’s Health
19. Importance of Stretching for the Young Athlete; Children’s Health of Orange County (CHOC)
20. The benefits of cycling for children and families; Sustrans
21. Running for kids: a helpful guide; National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)

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