7 Games To Get Kids Moving

You and the kids will be having so much fun that you won’t realize you're exercising.

By Felisa Billet

With the New Year in full bloom, add a fresh dimension to your exercise routine. You don’t have to join a gym, train for a 5K, or buy expensive gear. A great way to motivate yourself is to team up with a fitness buddy. What better buddy than your grandchild!

"Children learn from role models," says Liz Donnelly, a family fitness specialist from Cleveland, who blogs at Family Fitness Guru. "Grandparents are in a perfect position to [be that] role model" by stressing the importance of an active lifestyle.

“If the older generation takes the younger generation by the hand and engages in little bits of activity together, they are doing an extraordinary service to the health and well-being of their grandchildren,” says Michael Feigin, owner of The Fitness Guru, a multigenerational exercise studio in Brooklyn.

Walking or biking to a destination instead of driving, or even playing Wii instead of watching TV encourages kids to be active. Next time you are with the grandkids, use playtime as a way to get the heart pumping.

“Don’t get caught up in technique,” says Donnelly. "Just be goofy and encourage movement. Before you know it, your grandchildren will have so much fun they won’t even realize they’re exercising."

Try playing these games with the kids. Besides getting a workout, you'll all get a wealth of laughs.

Play a Game of Hot Lava

Kids love this game of imaginary adventure where players pretend they are escaping an active volcano. Randomly place sheets of paper on the floor (you can substitute pillow cases, towels, or any mats). Work your way across the room jumping and leaping from paper to paper, making sure not to touch the "hot lava" (the floor). You will increase your heart rate as you challenge the kids to see who can cross the room first. This game helps kids develop spatial awareness as they learn to control their body tempo and movement.

Skip, Hop

Helping young grandkids learn how to skip and hop improves their coordination while providing you with a cardiovascular workout. Jumping and hopping, movements that create an impact on the skeleton, increase bone density. To make it fun, designate a finish line and have the kids hop forward and then backward as they make their way across the room.

Hang Ten

Head outdoors with the grandkids to work on upper-body strength. Give your arms and shoulders a workout by clutching onto tree branches or monkey bars. See who can cling the longest, or count how long you can hang on and try to beat your score next time. Pick branches or bars that aren’t too high, so the kids can jump down on their own. If you can do chin-ups, show off your strength and technique. Get more outdoor games here.

Run Wheelbarrow Races

A wheelbarrow race, in which one player "walks" on his hands, while a partner holds his legs, provides multigenerational exercise fun. This classic game offers an upper-body workout for the person "walking" on the ground and challenges the total body strength of the player holding the feet.

Crawl Like a Crab

Pretend to be a crab: Walk sideways on your hands and feet with your torso and head facing up. As you and the grandkids crab-crawl around the room, you'll tone your arms and backs. Once you get the hang of it, have a race! To increase the challenge, find out who can crab-crawl the longest, using only one foot, an exercise game that strengthens the backs of the hips and legs.

Walk Like a Spider

Position yourself on all fours, with your head facing the floor. Walk on your hands and on the balls of your feet, keeping your backside up. This exercise builds strength in the body’s core area. Pretend you are spiders or prehistoric animals, or just have a funny race around the house.

Stride Like a Giant

Also known as walking lunges, a popular exercise for adults, this activity really works the hamstrings and gluts. Position your hands on your hips and bend your knees as you take a giant step forward. For each step, bring the next foot forward with the knees bent. Play tag, but instead of running, players lunge as they try not to get caught.

If all else fails: "Get outside and play as much as you can," says Donnelly. "Our nervous system is so well stimulated with the sun and air. Go out even if it’s cold. What kid won’t love building a snowman?

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