Do you feel your kids aren’t moving around enough? Check out this great list of 5 simple ways to engage your kids in some indoor physical activities.
Winter is here. For the majority of the United States, that means snow, ice, and cold weather. Often, winter also means fewer opportunities for exercise. There are countless physical and emotional benefits of exercise for both children and adults. Physical benefits include strengthening heart muscles, preventing heart disease and stroke, lowering blood pressure, and helping fight obesity. Emotional benefits include reducing stress and anxiety, increasing cognitive function and energy, improving self-confidence and sleep, and strengthening interpersonal relationships.
Why are indoor physical activities important?
A study published in September 2020 in BMC Public Health looked at the early effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on physical activity and sedentary behavior in children in the United States. Researchers used parent surveys to gather data from pre-COVID-19 (February 2020) and early-COVID-19 (April-May 2020).
The researchers showed increased sedentary behavior and decreased physical activity during the early-COVID-19 period. “Short-term changes in physical activity and sedentary behavior in reaction to COVID-19 may become permanently entrenched, leading to increased risk of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease in children.”
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COVID-19 has greatly impacted our amount of physical activity both nationally and worldwide. Many people are working from home and our children are in virtual school. We are spending more time in front of computers, tablets, and televisions. We also have less access to gyms and sports programs. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t participate in physical activities.
Outlined below are 5 simple indoor physical activities that you can do inside with your family. There is little to no equipment needed, just guaranteed fun for everyone!
Yoga is one of the most beneficial and easy indoor physical activities that can be done with children as young as 2-3 years old. There are many “kid-friendly” free yoga programs on YouTube. Our family favorite is Cosmic Yoga. You can use a yoga mat or a beach or bath towel.
Yoga combines breathing, strengthening, flexibility, and balance activities. Research has shown that 3 deep breaths shut off the “fight or flight” system of the brain. This active calming technique is an essential component of emotional health. “Star breathing” (Smile, Take a deep breath, And, Relax) – see image – is a great way to teach deep breathing to kids.
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Benefits of yoga for children:
- Yoga helps children manage anxiety. Breathing exercises and relaxation techniques learned from yoga can help children manage stress. Teaching children how to reduce stress in a healthy way is an important life skill that will help them long term.
- Yoga improves children’s emotional regulation. Yoga helps children learn to be in the present moment while relaxing and gaining a peaceful state of mind. This ultimately improves their emotional regulation.
- Yoga boosts children’s self-esteem. Yoga can do wonders for a kid’s self-esteem. Perfecting a pose or improving their balance and flexibility can give young children a sense of empowerment.
- Yoga increases children’s body awareness and mindfulness. Going through a variety of yoga poses helps children learn about their bodies and the movements they’re capable of.
- Yoga enhances children’s concentration and memory. One of the top benefits of kids’ yoga is that the different types of moves require children to focus and work on their memorization. Both of these skills can translate into their academic performance. Making this a great reason to check out this and similar indoor physical activities.
- Yoga develops children’s strength and flexibility. This activity helps strengthen children’s growing bodies. It also helps them improve their flexibility, which can reduce their chance of injury.
- Yoga teaches discipline and reduces impulsivity. Yoga can reduce challenging behaviors in the classroom by providing a physical outlet for children to express themselves. It also teaches children about discipline as they work on clearing their minds and perfecting their poses.
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Make an indoor obstacle course
The options here are endless. Use couch cushions to walk or crawl across, make a tunnel using chairs or a rolled-up sheet to create a balance beam. You can use pillowcases or carpet squares to create jumping spots. Get creative and have the kids help set up something fun that everyone can try over and over again. Who doesn’t love fun, creative indoor physical activities?
Blow up some balloons and use them just as you would with a ball outside without worrying about breaking anything. You can throw and catch. You can play soccer or kickball. Maybe set up a volleyball game. You can even play something as simple as everyone keep the balloon in the air. Balloons are sure to be a crowd-pleaser when it comes to indoor physical activities.
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Pillow fight or sword fight
This is one of those indoor physical activities that is guaranteed to be a good workout. Just make sure you have a safe space to “fight”. You can use bed pillows and have a good old-fashioned pillow fight. Another option is to cut pool noodles in half and make “swords”. Duct tape and decorate one end of each sword to make a handle then let the dueling begin!
Are you looking for some outdoor physical activities for kids? Check this out to get out and get active today!
Find kid-friendly music and get moving! Make sure the music is upbeat and fast to get in some cardio. You can even have a dance-off as a family and judge each other’s moves. Kids love these kinds of indoor physical activities.
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The CDC recommends 30 minutes of physical activity at least 5 days a week for adults. Believe it or not, kids need even more. They need at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day. You’ll be surprised how fast the time goes when you incorporate one of the indoor physical activities listed above into your day. You will not only be gaining the physical and emotional benefits of exercise but spending quality time with your kids.
Stacey Haught is a mom to 8-year-old Madison, 6-year-old twin boys – Mason and Mitchell, and 2-year-old twin girls – Sadie and Sophia. She is a pediatric physical therapist but has put her career on hold to stay at home with her rambunctious 5 kids. She resides with her husband and kids just outside of Pittsburgh, PA. Her family enjoys everything outdoors regardless of the season – gardening, finding new sledding hills, exploring area parks, and hiking and camping at their family cabin.
7 Benefits of Yoga for Young Kids.
Benefits of Physical Activity. Centers for Disease Control. https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pa-health/index.htm
The Emotional Benefits of Exercise. NIH National Institute on Aging. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/infographics/emotional-benefits-exercise
Dunton G, Do B, Wang S. Early Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior in Children Living in the U.S. BMC Public Health. 04 September 2020.
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