Inside: Easy indoor fitness activities to help highly energetic kids burn off some energy and get them moving with a purpose before you lose your mind.
Do you have high energy kids? I do! If, like us, you are spending more time indoors lately, you know you need to get inventive to help them burn that energy.
Some days, my kids are pretty good about coming up with inventive games to play, but other times, they need help. However, lucky for my kids, I’m a high energy person, too, and love coming up with even more activities that require physical exertion.
This collection of engaging fitness activities is a heap of fun for us, and I hope you will love them too. Not only does it get kids (and perhaps the whole family) moving, but it builds their brainpower as well. Oh, yes, scientists tell us that physical expression improves the blood flow to the brain, enhances thinking skills, and improves memory.
Research also shows that active games help children to:
– Improve cardiovascular health
– Reduce stress
– Improve balance
– Build strong bones and muscles
– Build social skills like cooperation and communication
– Find more ways to express themselves
However, sometimes thinking of something active for kids to do on the spot can be challenging. That’s why I suggest keeping this list handy: print it, bookmark it, or PIN it for later.
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Indoor Fitness Games for Kids
1. Little Ann. My kids came up with this game all on their own one rainy day. Place a hula hoop on the floor. Kids gather inside the hoop with their backs to each other. On “GO!” kids use their butts to push the other kids out of the hoop, while they are being pushed themselves. While pushing, kids have an extra challenge of chanting, “Ladybug, ladybug, fly away home. Your house is on fire, and your kids are gone. All except one, Little Ann, for she crept under a frying pan.” (I know from experience that it’s surprisingly hard to chant and push at the same time.) The last kid left standing is Little Ann.
2. Scavenger Hunt with a Twist. Come up with a mystery sentence, something like, “The cookies are in the blue bowl in the pantry.” Or “Your mystery snack is under the bed in your room.” (Treats and snacks work the best in my house). Write each word on a different index card or post-it note. Hide them around the house or in just one room. You can have all the kids work together or do individual hunts. They need to beat the clock to find all the flashcards and put them into a sentence to figure out the mystery. If your kids are learning foreign languages, write a note in a foreign language. Fun, energy-burning, AND educational! Win-win-win.
3. I’ve Got Your Socks. One player wears socks, and everybody else tries to take off those socks. It’s harder than you think, and if the socks are really tight, it might be practically impossible. Be ready for a lot of laughing. This game is ticklish!
4. Pillow fight. ‘Nuf said.
5. Puppy Wrestling. Roughhousing is essential for healthy kid development. I would even claim that wrestling is the number one tool in keeping brothers’ relationships strong. That’s how boys work through their emotions and get along. To start, show your kids a video of puppies or kittens wrestling. They don’t try to hurt each other. They play nice. Make sure one of your kids is not angry or mad about something before the wrestling match. Do it when both kids are in a good mood. Create safety rules. No hitting or punching. Both people have to stop at once if one yells, “Stop!” Include anything else that makes sense for your family, like no wrestling near a TV or near the baby.
6. Freeze Dance. Everyone dances as the music play, but the moment the music stops, each player must freeze immediately and hold that position until the music starts playing again. The player who moves during the freeze stage must do ten jumping jacks. Our favorite songs for Freeze Dance are Baby Sharks and Try Everything by Shakira. For a twist, shout out a prompt word after each freeze (e.g., wiggle, turn, monkey dance, …).
7. Fitness Bingo. (PRINT HERE) Print one card for each child and one for the leader. The leader calls out a move. The players have to do the move and then check their boards. If they have it, cover it with a penny (or a stone, bead, or small toy). The winner must mark a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal line to get a BINGO. As a variation, players need to fill the card in the shape of a U (so everything but the two higher moves in the middle row will be covered).
8. Sumo Wrestling. Each child puts on Dad’s T-shirt and stuffs one pillow in front of it and one in the back. You might need a belt from a bathroom robe and tie it under the pillows to keep them from sliding down.
9. One person crouches down, tucking in his/her head, and the other person runs up, places hands on the first person’s back, and leaps over, straddling legs far apart on each side. Switch. You guessed it. It’s a game of leapfrog.
10. The classics are unbeatable! Hide-and-go-seek is always a huge hit at my house.
11. Plank Race. Everyone gets in a plunk position along a horizontal line. On the “GO” command, the person in the back stands up and runs to the front of the line. As soon as this person gets back in a plunk position, he screams “GO,” and the next person in the back of the line gets up and runs to the front. Since it’s a race, you have to mark the time at the first “go.” Then you mark it again the time when you covered the whole distance, and someone’s head touches the farthest wall. Whatever time you’ve got, make sure that the next time you do this race, you beat it! A fun variation is when the person who moved from the back of the line gives the front person a high five before getting in a plunk. So that would be a one-hand-plunk for a few moments? Yep, but you can do it!
12. Follow the Leader to do jumping jacks, push-ups, squats, lunges, sit-ups, scissor jumps, toe touches, crab walks, arm punches, etc.
13. Cleaning a house is a form of fitness with benefits. Make a bet that the whole room can’t be cleaned up before the song is over. Push play and start cleaning. If you did manage to finish cleaning the room, the kids win. They deserve a treat. How about reading aloud from their favorite book?
14. Toy Minefield is a clean-up game that gets my kids giggling and moving.
15. Twister. This classic game challenges kids to get into uncomfortable and physically demanding positions without falling over.
16. Straw Rockets Race. Make a couple of rockets and challenge kids to have a race.
17. Duck, duck, goose. All players except one sit in a circle. One person walks around and taps each player on the head saying “duck” until suddenly he decides to say “goose.” The goose needs to jump up and chase after the first person, who needs to run around the circle and get to goose’s seat before he is tagged. One variation of the game is to replace duck and goose with Darth Vader and General Grieves. Why them? I don’t know. Ask my kids.
18. Jumping Rope. Surprisingly, I remembered a great many jumping rope variations from my own childhood, when my kids got old enough to jump with me. I still try to jump every day with them. If you need some inspiration, we really like the Jump Rope Dudes’. Or join a Jumping Rope Challenge with Cross Rope.
19. Indoor croquet.
20. Balloon Volleyball with Tennis Racquets. If only one person is playing: How long can you keep the balloon off the ground? If it’s more than one person: Can you send it back-and-forth over the dining room table?
22. Dance Parties are underrated if you ask me. You burn a massive amount of energy, sweat in a good way, and have fun at the same time. Why is it not a daily thing for every family? Right now, put on some music, start dancing, and shout out, The last person not moving is a rotten egg! Our favorite kitchen dance party music: Because I’m Happy (from Despicable Me 2) by Pharrell Williams, Shake it Off by Taylor Swift, and Hey Na Na by Katie Herzig.
23. Blindfold tag with a bell. One player who is “It” is blindfolded. The other players scatter around the room and try to evade It. One of the players holds a bell and moves around the room fast, passing the bell to other players. The person who holds the bell can’t stay motionless or prevent the bell from making sounds.
24. Piggie in the middle is by far my kids’ favorite basement game. In this game, two players pass a ball to each other, while the third player who stands between them tries to intercept it.
25. Button, button, who’s got the button? A childhood favorite of mine, this game was a big hit in my neighborhood when I was growing up. All the players stand in a circle, bring hands together and extend them toward the circle. The It stands in the middle of the circle with a button pressed between his/her hands. The It slides hands between each player’s hands, leaving the button in the process. No one knows where the button is except the giver and receiver, but try to guess. Once the right name is called, the player with the button tries to run as fast as possible to a pre-determined target. It can be a tree in the backyard, or a washing machine in the basement. All the players chase after the kid with the button. If he is not caught, he gets to keep the button till the end of the game. At the end of the game, count the buttons. The winner is the kid with the most buttons.
27. Play catch with a twist. Instead of using a ball, use an unusual or weird shaped object like a stuffed fish or long-legged giraffe. It makes catching more exciting and challenging.
28. Make easy indoor hopscotch with painters tape. If your little ones are just learning numbers, this would be a fun way to learn them. They can call out numbers as they jump on them. Or try my 3-year-old’s favorite at the moment. I call out a number, and she walks to it and jumps on it. My seven-year-old likes solving simple problems on hopscotch. I say, “10-8,” and he jumps on “2.” Then I say “2×3,” and he needs to jump all the way to six from two. It’s a challenge but fun.
29. Animal Yoga
30. Egg Race. Everyone puts a hard-boiled egg on a small teaspoon and each person walks through the house. The walk might involve going up and down the stairs, or just crossing a room or two. Whoever drops the egg has to eat it.