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Making Exercise Fun

— U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Updated on Nov 12, 2009

Children may not want to "exercise," but everybody loves to play. And young kids want to play with you. Here are a few ways to make your family "workouts" fun.

Play Games Outside or In

  • Simon Says is an excellent game for stretching and flexibility. Start simply and build up to longer or more repetitive commands.
    For example: “Simon says, stand on your toes”; then, “Simon says, stand on your toes and count to five.” Or, “Simon says, jump up high”; then, “Simon says, jump up high five times.”
  • Follow the Leader can help you and your child get aerobic exercise, especially if you play outside. It really doesn’t matter whether you get creative with your actions; it’s more important to keep moving.
    For example: If it’s too difficult to climb over or under a fence, run around it. Or, if space is limited, do jumping jacks or run in place.
  • Mirror Dancing provides the benefits of exercise with the fun of music. Put on music, either slow or fast, depending on whether you want an aerobic workout or slow stretching. Have your child stand directly in front of you and mimic whatever you do. Keep the steps easy; remember, the object is to get moving in time to the music.
    For example: Point your right foot to the front, to the side, and to the back. Repeat with the left foot. Do several slide steps to the right, then to the left. Bend at the waist, then rise up on tiptoe, arms stretched high. Do the twist or the bunny hop. Just have fun.

Note: The Building Blocks’ “Power Positive” song #3 from the CD or from the Building Blocks’ Web site is an excellent song to get children moving.

Be a Moving Role Model

  • Climb the stairs with your child instead of taking the elevator or escalator.
  • Park farther from the store and walk, rather than looking for the closest space.
  • When a commercial comes on while you’re watching TV, get on the floor and stretch for 2 or 3 minutes. If you do this five times during an hour show, you’ll have exercised 10 or 15 minutes.
  • Plan a family hike in the park or participate in a “fun run.”
  • Play together with all types of sports equipment: balls, hula hoops, jump ropes, scooters, and bikes.
  • Use "Power Positive" on page 20 of the Building Blocks Activity Book (PDF) to test your child’s physical skills and build confidence.
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