6 Ways to Keep Kids Active—Even When They're in School All Day

Your kids may sit at desks for hours every day, but you can still get them moving. Try these ideas to help them stay fit and have fun.

girl jumping rope

Every mom knows her children are less cranky when they get the chance to run around a little. But exercise can have a big impact on your kids’ grades as well as their moods. Physically fit kids have better brain health and cognitive abilities than their couch-potato peers, according to a University of Illinois study. And children who aren’t aerobically fit are more likely to fail tests, according to another recent study. Your mission: Make sure your children get 60 minutes of physical activity each day. Some suggestions: 

1. Give kids chores. Vacuuming, laundry, cleaning and walking the dog all keep them moving while teaching responsibility.

2. Exer-game. Turn screen time into a healthy activity with games from Dancetown, Kinect, Wii and Xavix. In fact, playing the games for 10 minutes produces as many benefits for kids as walking for 10 minutes on a treadmill, according to a recent study from the University of Massachusetts.

3. Set up a family challenge. Every day, have a new competition: Whoever does the most push-ups, squats or jumps that day wins.

4. Run drills. Set up four cones in a line, 10 to 20 yards apart; give each a number. Have the kids start at the same spot. Blow a whistle and call out a number. Each kid runs to that cone and does an exercise (jumping jacks, squats, hopping on one foot) until you blow the whistle again. Have them run back to the start. Repeat.

5. Let them walk to and from school. You’ll save money on gas, too.

6. Host an indoor obstacle course. On a rainy or cold day, supervise some indoor fun: Couch sit and jump (sit on the couch, then jump onto your feet); play kitchen sock running man (get into push-up position and slide your feet up, down and all around for 30 seconds while wearing slippery socks); do hallway sprints.

Source: Jacque Crockford, exercise physiologist at the American Council on Exercise