Physical exercise is essential for children to stay fit and active. It also helps avoid obesity and related health problems. Children may begin with a few easy exercises done without any equipment.
If you are planning to make exercise a part of your child’s daily routine, then read on as MomJunction brings you some fun-filled exercises for kids to do at home. We have included strength-training exercises that use bodyweight to build strength, as well as cardio exercises that help in improving fitness and building strong heart and bones.
15 Exercises For Children To Do
The exercises have been listed in separate categories that they belong to.
Strength training exercises
These could help strengthen the muscles and increase stamina.
This is a strength exercise for the stomach, works out the core, abs, and the back.
- Rest the forearms on the ground.
- Keep the arms parallel to the body at a shoulder-width distance.
- Look at a spot on the floor to have the spine and neck neutralized.
- Keep the head in line with the back.
- Slightly lift the legs and the core a little upwards with the tip of the toes on the ground and hold it.
- The weight of the body will be distributed between the forearms and toes.
- Retain it for as long as it is comfortable.
- It eliminates back pain
- Gives a toned belly
- Improves posture and balance
- Enhances muscle flexibility
[Read: Stretching Exercises For Kids]
Push-ups make for a complete chest exercise and an overall body workout.
- Lie face-down on the floor. The weight of the body will be on the chest.
- The hands are to be palms-down on the floor.
- Raise the body using the arms, with weight supported by the hands and the balls of the feet.
- Go down by lowering the torso on the ground, as the elbows make a 90° angle.
- Keep the head facing ahead, and the body straight through the exercise.
- Breathe in as you move down and breathe out while rising.
- The push strength should come from the chest and the shoulders together.
- Repeat this lowering and lifting steadily, if you are comfortable.
- Good for the cardiovascular system
- Prevents lower back injuries
- Improves posture
- Good for working out all the body muscles
This is an upper-body exercise that might help in improving agility. Crunches can be performed at an early age.
- Lie flat on the floor with feet hip-width apart.
- Keep the knees bent.
- Interlace the hands behind the head, with the thumbs behind the ears.
- Tilt the chin slightly up.
- Start pulling the abdomen inwards gently.
- Curl up by lifting the neck, head, and shoulder blades off the ground.
- Hold the posture for a moment and lower the body to the ground, slowly.
- Builds the core strength
- Increases the flexibility of the torso
- Works out all the abdominal muscles
This is a one-leg bodyweight exercise with good leverage.
- Stand with feet hip-width apart and keep the back straight.
- Look straight onto a wall, as that helps in balancing.
- 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.
- Lower the body until the right knee makes a 90° angle. Keep the back straight.
- The lower leg must be parallel to the ground, and the thighs perpendicular.
- Use the right foot to push upward and return to the 90° position.
- Repeat this forward lunge with the other leg.
- Strengthens the legs and hips
- Great for the core strength
- Improves flexibility
- Enhances body symmetry
- Good for spinal health
Besides being an exercise, stretching is also imperative before starting any other physical activity.
- Sit with the back straight.
- Stretch both the legs as wide as comfortable.
- Hold the right knee with the right hand.
- Lift the left hand to the top of the head and leaning towards the right.
- While leaning rightwards, stretch the left part of the body as much as you comfortably can.
- Keep breathing normally.
- Repeat it on the other side.
- Increases the range of movement in the joints
- Reduces tension in muscles
- Improves muscle coordination
- Enhances blood circulation in the body
[Read: Breathing Exercises For Kids]
6. Bridge lift
Bridge lift works the thighs, abs, and hips.
- Lie flat on the back; keep the hands on the sides, and the knees bent.
- Place the feet shoulder-width apart.
- Pushing the body with the heels, lift the hips off the ground while keeping the back straight.
- Breathe out and hold the position for about a second.
- Come back to the initial position while breathing in.
- 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
7. Backstretch (child pose)
The child’s pose backstretch is a mat exercise. Make sure your kid has a padded mat surface.
- Kneel on the mat with the hips on the heels.
- Keeping the toes together, open the knees hip-distance apart.
- Lean forward and drape the body over the thighs, so that the forehead rests on the floor.
- Stretch the arms straight to the front.
- While maintaining this pose, breathe deeply and relax.
- Stretches the thighs, ankles, and hips
- Reduces stress and fatigue
- Relaxes the upper body muscles
- Aids digestion
- Elongates the lower back
Squats might help manage obesity and could be good for losing weight.
- Keep the feet shoulder-width apart.
- Bend the knees like sitting on a chair while holding the heels on the ground.
- While doing this, pull in the abs and keep the back straight.
- Push the hips back and lower as much as it’s comfortable.
- Inhale while lowering and exhale while rising.
- 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
9. 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.
- Stand straight with the shoulders slightly stretched back, feet shoulder-width apart, and chest forward.
- Raise the left arm over the head, bending the elbow and placing the hand behind the neck.
- With the right hand, grasp the left elbow and gently give it a pull behind the head.
- Hold this stretch.
- Relax the body, repeat with the other arm.
- Improves the flexibility of the shoulder muscles, making them stronger
- Increases the range of movement
- Releases stress and enables proper circulation of blood
- Alleviates fatigue after a stressful day
- Can be done anytime and anywhere
Splits might help increase flexibility and are good for the thighs.
- Sit on the ground and stretch the legs out to the side.
- Bend forward, stretching your arms, and bring the chest as close to the floor as possible.
- While straightening, take deep breaths.
- Stretches the thigh muscles
- Opens the hip flexors
- Develops perseverance
- Strengthens the muscles
11. Side leg raise
The side leg raise could help in toning the hips and thigh muscles.
- Lie down on one side.
- Extend the arm close to the floor and fold it at the elbow to support the head with the hand.
- Bend the other arm with the hand on the floor in front of the body.
- Place the legs one above the other and keep them straight.
- Slowly raise the top leg as high as possible while supporting the body with both the arms.
- Hold the position for a few seconds and return to the starting position.
- Builds glute 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
Along with other benefits, these exercises also help in strengthening the heart muscles.
Cycling is easy and provides overall body workout.
- Find a suitable location for your child to cycle.
- Make sure it’s in a greener area, far from traffic.
- Make sure that your kid wears riding clothes – long-sleeved tees, long pants, covered shoes, knee, and elbow pads.
- The child must wear a helmet that fits their size.
- Let them cycle during the daytime or afternoons and not after dark.
- Enhances joint mobility
- Decreases stress levels
- Improves cardiovascular fitness
- Increases muscle strength
Skipping might be an ideal morning exercise for children, and one for improving the core and balancing.
- Choose the right rope — one that’s not too long and one that reaches nearly the shoulders when folded in half.
- The ropes should have handles that are comfortable to grip – neither too light nor too heavy.
- Stand up and hold the rope handles in both hands.
- Extend the hands and forearms a foot away from the body at an angle of 45°.
- Step over the rope; the rope will hang behind.
- Without moving the hands, use wrists to swing it over the head.
- Hop over when the rope comes toward the front of the feet.
- Use the ankles, but do not bend the knees, to jump.
- For a safe exercise, pick up a comfortable pace.
- 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
[Read: Warm Up Exercises For Kids]
A fast and fit runner goes everywhere; run smarter, not harder.
- Warm-up with jumping or doing arm swings. This will prepare the muscles for a good run.
- Look ahead on the ground to avoid tripping.
- While running, land midfoot and not on the toes, as landing on toes will make the calves tighter.
- Keep the feet pointed straight ahead.
- Keep the hands at the waist level while running and not too up the chest.
- The hands and arms should be as relaxed as possible while running.
- Keep checking the postures — head high, back straight and level, shoulders relaxed.
- Maintains weight
- Boosts confidence
- Relieves stress
- Tones the legs
- Helps fight depression
- Gives you the right dose of vitamin D
[Read: Pilates For Kids]
Jogging is an easy cardio exercise for children.
- Find a safe route to jog.
- Wear comfortable clothes and shoes.
- Start with a warm-up before jogging.
- Pick up a slow but good pace.
- Keep the head straight and look ahead.
- Don’t hunch the shoulders; keep the hips stable and don’t let them swing.
- Improves cardiovascular health
- Strengthens muscles
- Builds strong bones
- Helps maintain a steady bodyweight
- Provides freshness to the mind and reduces fatigue
These exercises help in the overall health and development of the child. Let the kid exercise for a couple or more days in a week, with a break of two days in between. You may make a weekly schedule of exercise days and rest days. Initially, your child may need encouragement. So, join them during the workout and make it a dun family time that also helps you and the child stay fit.
Do you work out with your kids? Tell us about your experiences in the comment section below.