My running shoes pound down the sidewalk, trying to keep pace with my niece. She’s far faster than I am, and the excitement from running her first 5k race is fueling her energy. We pass the two-mile marker, and I pause for a moment, hands on my hips, to catch my breath. The morning sunlight streams through the trees and leaves leafy patterns on Sophia’s pink cheeks. She bounces on her toes, eager to start again. I’m glad that my niece has discovered running is one of many fun exercises for kids and that she recognizes the benefits of physical activity, even at her young age.
We take off again down the sidewalk toward the finish line. The finish arch frames Pikes Peak in the background. Our family gathers around the sidelines, cheering as we approach. As we crossed the finish line, panting for air in the altitude, a sense of accomplishment flooded over me. It took a lot of hard work to get to the point where I could run a 5k with my niece or a half marathon with my friends. Being able to run fun events like these with my niece made it all worth it.
But if training to run has taught me anything, it’s that God created our bodies to move! Nowadays, it seems to be increasingly challenging to find that perfect balance between rest and motion. Convincing ourselves to get up and get active can be a daily challenge, and finding fun exercises that spark our kids’ interest? Even tougher.
We Are Created To Move
God intentionally created and designed our bodies and made us in His own image (Genesis 1:27). Look at the artistry of our muscles, joints, bones, cardiovascular, and nervous systems. It is incredible what God designed the human body to do. I am always astounded at the flexibility of gymnasts, the strength of weightlifters, and a runners’ agility. And how beautiful that God created each of us to have unique passions and skills, given to us before we were even born (Psalm 139). It is clear from His design that He intended for us to move!
God created us to move and to work. Even from Adam’s creation, God “took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” (Genesis 2:15). Maintaining an active lifestyle was critical for survival after sin entered the world. People had to hunt and tend crops for food, gather supplies for buildings and clothing, and often travel on foot to reach their destinations. Constant movement and exertion became so much a part of our survival that God instructed us to take a Shabbat (or Sabbath) and take a day of rest (Exodus 20:8-11). God Himself modeled this for us by resting on the seventh day after creating the universe (Genesis 2:2).
A Lifestyle Shift
Since the Industrial Revolution, there has been a shift toward a more sedentary lifestyle. While many people still perform rigorous tasks in their work, more and more people find it all too easy to sit more than they move. Many people sit for long hours at their desks as they work, in the car, or in front of their TV or cell phone. Our bodies don’t tend to move as much as they used to, which throws the balance between rest and movement that God created off-kilter. Because this lifestyle has now been ingrained in us since childhood, it’s all the tougher to want to get up and get moving.
Growing up, I was (and still am) a bookworm. I would much rather curl up under a tree with the latest novel than kick around a soccer ball. Running sounded like torture. But with the help of one of my best friends, I discovered one of the many fun exercises that I now enjoy. Taper week — the week before a race when the runner significantly cuts back on their training and rests — has taught me that the body craves movement and exercise. It doesn’t quite know what to do with itself when things get out of balance. So we have to continue to be intentional about making our bodies move in healthy ways and get the exercise we need.
The Benefits of Physical Activity
God designed us to have to need a healthy balance of rest and exercise. That balance is essential to our physical and mental health. When we incorporate a sufficient amount of activity into our lives, we see positive results. There are distinct benefits of physical activity. For instance, studies have shown that exercise:
- Improves muscle and heart health
- Reduces blood pressure and cholesterol
- Helps maintain a healthy weight and metabolism when combined with a healthy diet
- Can reduce depression and anxiety and improves overall mental health
- Provides better sleep
Taking time to exercise is an excellent chance to unplug from the TV, computer, and cell phone screens. Getting up and moving with your kids is a fantastic chance to recharge together, connect, and learn more about each other. The benefits of physical activity as a family go far beyond just staying healthy.
Beating the Boredom
It isn’t easy to do an activity if we don’t enjoy it or become bored. Athletic trainers will tell you that even our bodies require that we change up the exercise routine every so often or we hit a plateau. So be sure that you pick an activity or two that you and your kids enjoy!
Find physical activities that can be fun exercises for kids, but be sure to find some activities your family can do together. Time pursuing fun exercises together can be a great way to bond.
Remember, you don’t have to hit the gym five days a week or burn a thousand calories every workout. You don’t have to run or hike as I do. Everyone is different and will enjoy different things. Have fun experimenting with some of these fun exercises and discover what gets your heart pumping. Here are a few ideas to get you and your kids started.
5 Fun Exercises for Kids
Log Some Miles
One way to get some exercise and fresh air is to do activities that tally up the miles. For some, a short walk around the block with the dog may be the perfect amount of exercise. Others may choose to go on more challenging endeavors. Whether you walk, run, bike, hike, or swim, have fun keeping track of those miles as they add up.
There are many fun challenges that you can find online that keep track of how many miles you have gone over the month or year, and many of them are collaborative efforts. Some even have fun medals when you reach your goal. Or you can create your own challenge by looking up the distance between two points on a map and keeping track of how long it takes you to get there.
Another fun exercise for kids is to explore a national or state park. These parks have many accessible options to allow visitors who cannot hike over rougher terrain to see incredible sights. You might also choose to explore a new place in town or take a trip to sightsee somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit.
There are countless options for getting kids involved in athletics of some sort. Whether it’s getting them engaged on a sports team — such as soccer, basketball, or lacrosse (to name a few) — or putting them in a dance program, there is bound to be something that sparks their interest.
There are many ways that you can share athletic activities as a family. For instance, you might choose to go rock climbing together, roller skating, or skiing in the winter. The possibilities are endless.
Whether it’s a sunny day or rainy weather, these ideas can be used indoors or outside. They involve a little creativity. You and your kids can create a treasure hunt for the whole family, a scavenger hunt, an obstacle course, or a maze. Have fun planning the adventure together and enjoy getting some physical activity as you enjoy the experience together.
Sometimes, you and the kids won’t be able to get out of the house for some physical activity, whether from inclement weather or health restrictions. YouTube has a wealth of workouts you can do — everything from Zumba to strength training and cardio. Some gyms are offering live workout sessions on Zoom. You can also adapt several sports into broom hockey, indoor bowling, and balloon volleyball.
Acts of Service
Performing acts of service for others can turn into fun exercises for the kids. Activities such as gardening and landscaping as a family or helping a neighbor who might need yardwork help can get the blood flowing. Volunteer projects such as beautifying a park, painting, building, or repairing can also be excellent physical activities for the kids to take part.
These are just a few ideas to get you and your kids up and moving. Remember that God created you and your kids to live as healthy a lifestyle as possible. The benefits of physical activity will not only help you and your family healthy but doing fun exercises together can help you bond and grow together. What are some ways that you can think of to get your family up and moving today?
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