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Toddlers to Teens: How to keep kids active inside

Posted February 14

Helpful habits that will help any mom make lasting memories with her children. (Deseret Photo)

Editor's Note: Cammie Bates, physical activity and nutrition health educator at the Poe Center for Health Education in Raleigh, shares these tips for fun indoor activities.

Are cold temperatures and shorter days making the kids a little restless?

Winter can be a difficult time to keep kids active when it’s too cold to play outside. If they end up stuck inside with “nothing to do,” there are many simple games and activities kids can play to stay active and have fun.

Indoor play is also a great opportunity to let kids use their imagination for free play. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends 60 minutes of active play every day for kids’ physical, emotional and mental health development.

Here are a few ideas to get kids of any age moving:

Toddlers

Act Out the Animals
Most toddlers love animals. Pretending to be an animal is a great way to combine movement and education. During this game, call out an animal and have your child walk, run, skip, or jump around the house pretending to be that animal.

Add music and have them freeze in place when the music stops. Examples of pretend play may include acting like a bear, a monkey, a flamingo, a frog, a kangaroo, etc. Use the game to share some fun facts about the particular animal. After a few tries, let your child choose an animal and you take a guess what it may be.

Have a Dance Party
Pump up the music and let the kids get loose to some fun tunes. Join them and get your exercise grove on too. Mix up the play list with fast-beat songs to increase their heart rates and slow-beat songs to catch their breath.

Improve balance by pausing the songs and having the kids strike a pose, such as freezing a pose while on one leg. Encourage them to really get active and try new moves. Shake, wiggle, turn, bend down, jump up and down, move forward, backward, and side to side.  Add a few “instruments” with cans, buckets or utensils to add to the fun.

Elementary School

Build a Fort/Maze
This activity uses kids’ brains and strength as they pull, tug and stack different objects to create an indoor fort or maze throughout the house.

Use pillows, cushions, or blankets. If they’re old enough, try adding boxes, buckets, or even chairs. Use tape or crepe paper to build a maze. Challenge the kids to see who can move through the maze the fastest or add exercises they have to do at certain points in the maze. For instance, when they reach the middle of the maze, have them do jumping jacks, side bends or another age-appropriate exercise.

Yoga for Kids
Yoga is not just for adults. It is incredibly beneficial for kids too.

Check out My First Yoga to download a free kids yoga app or visit Kira Willey who sings yoga sequences for kids in her songs. Need inspiration for specific poses?  Here’s a list of 58 fun and easy poses complete with instructional images and descriptions. The Poe Center has also published a series of kids’ yoga exercises at #PoeFit.

Middle School

Indoor Basketball
Many kids love basketball, and it’s easy to bring the game inside. Simply get two buckets or laundry baskets and place them on opposite sides of the room. Use a pair of folded socks as the ball. Have kids pass and shoot the “ball” (no dribbling in this game). Play for a specific amount of time or points. Switch up the teams or have the kids play the game on their knees to make it more challenging.

Balloon Games
There are many games that can be played with balloons and string. Use string to loosely tie balloons to the players’ ankles. Players try to pop the others’ balloons without having their own popped. Another fun option is balloon volleyball. The object of this game is to propel the balloon over a “net” or object as many times as possible. The challenge is only one player plays at a time meaning he or she must hit the balloon from each side of the net to keep the ball in play.

High School

Exercise Videos
There are thousands of exercise videos online that you and your teenager can do together - yoga videos, 10-minute HIIT or Tabata videos (timed body weight exercises), Zumba dances and more. If your teen is creative and enjoys dancing, ask them to choreograph a dance routine to do later or put on a dance recital for the rest of the family.

Workout While You Watch
If your teens want to watch TV to relax, make a deal with them. During every commercial, challenge them to do specific exercise, such as a plank or running in place, until the show comes back on or it switches to a new commercial. If you have exercise games, such as a Wii Sports or Fit, EA Sports Active, Zumba Fitness, etc., play a few rounds with them. Choose the more active ones. You’ll have fun, get exercise and spend quality time with your teens.

For more resources, see the original post on Poe's website.

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