Staying active is especially important in times like this. If you're nervous about keeping moving while you're cooped up indoors over the next few weeks and wondering how to exercise at home, there are actually loads of ways to stay healthy and keep the blood pumping. From YouTube workouts to epic obstacle courses and everything in between, you'd be surprised how simple it is to stay active during lockdown.
1. Set Up A Race In The Garden
You'll need: a referee and a stopwatch (most smart phones have this feature)
One of the best ways to exercise at home and keep your body healthy is to practise your running. Kids love a challenge, so whether that's racing their siblings or using a stopwatch to time their runs, it's the perfect workout to get their heart rate up and improve their fitness levels. You could even note down their running times and see if by the end of the quarantine they beat their personal bests!
2. Toddler-Led Dance Class
You'll need: a wriggly toddler or baby and your favourite tunes
This one's great if you've got kids of different ages and it's super simple - all you have to do is blast some tunes and copy everything your toddler does! When they bend, you all bend, when they jump, you jump. Toddlers are always doing the funniest movements with their body and you'll realise pretty soon this could be a more difficult workout than you'd imagined. Your youngest kids will love everyone's attention on them and your older kids will find it hilarious!
3. Practise Gymnastics
You'll need: space in the living room and access to the Internet
Gymnastics is the perfect exercise to do at home and if the weather's good it's definitely better to move your PE class to the garden! As you practise your moves, whether you're perfecting a forward roll or learning how to do a handstand, you'll be improving upper body strength and coordination. You could try to come up with a whole gymnastics routine and practice it every day. YouTube is a really helpful resource for learning new skills and you can find plenty of gymnastics how-tos online, like this tumbling tutorial. You'll be cartwheeling in no time!
4. Indoor Hopscotch
You'll need: electrical tape
Hopscotch has definitely stood the test of time and is definitely a great exercise to whip out during this lockdown. Lay out a hopscotch track with electrical tape and work on your fitness. If you've got more than one child, lay out however many tracks you need, get that heart rate up and race to complete your hopscotch first!
5. Marching Practice
You'll need: space to move around in
Get everyone in the room to march on the spot according to the tempo set by a grown-up. You can turn it into a game by adding different instructions asking the kids to turn left or right, or take steps forwards or backwards. You could also add an educational element and get them to recite their times tables or spell out words as they march. If you find the kids are getting bored of it one day, why not let them lead the march with their own instructions?
6. Learn Dance Moves
You'll need: access to YouTube
Been meaning to start taking your kids to dance class? Now's the perfect time to get started - from the comfort of your own home! If your kids love to move and groove, there are loads of how-to videos on YouTube that'll show you a step-by-step guide to your favourite dances. Whether you've got older kids who want to learn Tik Tok dances, younger children who have levels of energy perfect for Zumba or you just really want to start learning ballet from home, you'll find something for everyone. Dancing is known to improve strength, coordination and fitness, which means you can get some great exercise in while also having fun!
7. Crepe Paper Maze
You'll need: crepe paper and tape
This isn't a super intense workout but it's great for improving motor skills and spatial awareness. Stick your crepe paper ribbons across a corridor, making sure you've created a zig-zagging maze all the way along. See if you can get from one end of the corridor to the other while carefully making your way through the crepe paper maze without touching any of it.
8. Skipping Rope Songtime
You'll need: skipping rope and plenty of space
Making sure there's enough space around you, jump in place using your rope while singing a classic playground skipping song like Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear or Cinderella. Skipping is perfect for families of any size - it can be done alone or in a group, with 2 people holding the rope at either end. This is one of the best home workouts to get your fitness and energy levels up and is definitely one the adults can get involved in too. For bonus points, why not make up your own skipping rope song?
9. Do Yoga Together
You'll need: space in the living room and access to the Internet
This home workout is a double whammy. Not only can you work on your strength and flexibility, yoga also teaches mindfulness and the importance of listening to your body. It's particularly good at helping children (and adults) focus, which is especially important right now with all the changes in routine taking place. There are loads of kid-friendly exercises available online, like this animal-themed yoga class or this Cosmic Kids Yoga session inspired by Frozen. To kick things off on your first day, start practising your breathing and stretching at home - you'll be a yoga master before you know it.
You'll need: brilliant hiding skills and a speedy run
This game of high-stakes hide-and-seek works best for families with multiple children. The catcher yells 'camouflage', closes their eyes and begins to counts down from 20 while the other players run away and hide somewhere in the room (within eyeshot of the catcher). After the countdown, the catcher looks around and tries to spot any of the hidden players without moving. If one is spotted, they're out of this round. If anyone is left hidden, the catcher yells 'camouflage' again and this time counts down from 10. During this time the other players must get close to the catcher, high five them and get back to a hiding place before they finish their countdown and open their eyes. This keeps going until someone successfully high fives the catcher without being spotted, counting down from 5 in the next round.
11. Obstacle Course
You'll need: tables, chairs and any other items you can think of
Obstacle courses are so much fun they barely even feel like a workout, but in fact they're great for building strength and coordination and a brilliant way to pass the time! Set up an indoor course with around 10 stations for your kids to get through. Some ideas we love are crawling through a tunnel of chairs, doing the limbo under a broom and doing a roly poly from one point to the next. This is perfect for building strength, stamina and improving spatial awareness.
12. Indoor Table Tennis
You'll need: paper plates, cardboard tubes, tape, a table, divider and ping pong balls
This might not feel like exercise at first, but when you get started and your competitive side comes out it'll definitely be a workout! If you don't have a ping pong table it's easy to set up a homemade version using cardboard tubes stuck to a paper plate as the paddle and just a string or tape to mark both sides of the table. Either practise your volley or get your heart rate up with a game of Around The World. To play this, everyone spreads out around the table, the first person the volley, the next person returns the serve and everyone moves clockwise around the table, trying to keep the volley going as a team.
13. Chair Hat Toss
You'll need: a chair (with legs), a range of hats and some tape
This game is a great way for kids to develop hand-eye coordination, and is essentially an at-home version of ring toss that can be adapted to the needs of each family. Turn your chair upside down so that all of the legs are pointing up to the ceiling. Mark different lines on the floor with the tape to show where each person should stand (e.g. 1m away for a toddler, a few metres away for older kids). From there, see if you can throw your hats onto the chair legs. If you want to raise the stakes, you could move further away and/or give each chair leg a specific points value. If you don't have hats you could use necklaces or paper plates cut into rings.
14. The Shapes Game
You'll need: plain paper and a pen
This game is kind of like charades but just for shapes. Either draw out different shapes and objects on pieces of paper or print them out if your drawing skills aren't quite up to par. From there, show one of the shapes to your child or call out its name (to test their shape knowledge). They then have to recreate the shape using only their body. This is even more fun when kids work together as a pair or group to make the shape, and can get ridiculously funny pretty quickly! You could also play a version of the game where one person create a shape and another person tries to guess what it is.
15. Do Children's Workouts
You'll need: space in the living room or garden and access to YouTube
You may not have a gym in the house but you'd be surprised how many exercises you can still do at home, no extra equipment necessary. Plenty of YouTube channels offer speedy workout sessions created specifically for kids, like The Body Coach Joe Wicks' children's workouts or these family-friendly cardio sessions led by POPSUGAR Fitness. You can start by practising some moves like frog jumps, star jumps and running on the spot. Build up your stamina and even download a version of the infamous Bleep Test for your older kids if you've got enough space! If you do this once a day you'll have started a brilliant healthy habit that you'll want to continue long after the lockdown is over.
Even a quick 5-minute workout to get the blood pumping will be helpful during the lockdown, especially for children who are used to being on the move all the time. In fact, doing a few quick exercises throughout the day is a great way to break up your time into manageable sections. Try to implement exercise breaks at points during the day where you child would usually be out and about, like in the morning around the time you'd walk to school, mid-morning for their break, around lunchtime and then mid-afternoon when you'd normally be coming home. This way you'll be able to get the recommended 1-1.5 hours of exercise in without really changing your schedule.
Try to get involved in the exercises with your children as much as possible and use this time at home as a chance to get creative in ways to keep moving.
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