Sometimes, it can feel like it takes a lot of begging, bribing and twisting of arms to get kids to exercise. Don’t give up — studies show that kids who exercise regularly get better sleep, focus better in school and have better self-esteem than their more sedentary peers. Try some of these fun exercises to get the kids working out with you.

Deck of Cards

Pick a card, any card! First, assign a specific exercise to each suit. For example, hearts could be jumping jacks, spades could be sit-ups, diamonds could be push-ups and clubs could be lunges. Each person gets to draw a card and then perform the number of reps on the card. For example, an eight of hearts would mean eight jumping jacks. Face cards are 10 and aces are 11 reps. Keep it up until you draw all 52 cards or you have exercised for at least 30 minutes.

Trampoline Exercises

What kid doesn’t adore trampolines? Even without a scripted exercise program, just bouncing around can burn up to 200 calories in an hour. If you engage in a specific workout routine, it can burn even more. Doing exercises like jumping jogs and vertical elevation dances can help you burn even more calories. Additionally, there is no need to invest in a 15′ foot monster that can only be used outside in pleasant weather. Mini trampolines for you and your child can be used indoors and can cost as little as $30 each.

Chest Press

Large balance balls can add some novelty and challenge to even the most basic exercise moves. Have your child lie back on a balance ball and push kid-sized weights — or even cans of soup — upward from his or her chest.

Lying Row

If your kids loved the chest press, try the lying row. This time, have your child lie face down on the balance ball and lift small weights by pulling the elbows back in a rowing motion.

Obstacle Course

This is a great outdoor activity than can be created fairly cheaply from used or discarded items you have lying around the house. You can use old tires, boards for balancing, bricks or pavers, hula hoops, cones, kiddie pools or other items to tailor your obstacle course to meet your family’s needs and interests. 


You don’t need any special equipment or gear for this one — just turn up the music and dance. Choose music that is fast-paced and has a strong beat to it.

Play Tag

Kids, especially young ones, can’t seem to get enough tag. It is a favorite game at most schools during recess, so why not play at home? Get the whole family involved for a heart-pounding game of this childhood favorite. 

Break out the Bikes

They say you never forget how to ride a bike, so maybe it’s time to dig them out of the garage and see if that’s true. If you live in a safe neighborhood, you can simply ride around with your children. If your neighborhood has a lot of traffic or other potential dangers, look for local parks that have bike trails. It’s a great way to get some exercise, bond with your family and get some fresh air.

Aquatic Exercise

If you have a pool or live near a body of water, there are practically limitless possibilities for exercise. Swimming, of course, is great exercise by itself. But, there are also various water games that can be played with children, such as Marco Polo, water volleyball or relay races. Kayaking and canoeing is also great exercise. Let your imagination run wild when it comes to water.


Maybe your child is too cool to be seen with you, and that’s okay. You can still find a way to make sure he or she gets enough exercise without ruining that all-too-important reputation. Numerous schools, fitness centers and community centers sponsor kids’ sports teams, so figure out what your child is in to and sign him up. If your child isn’t into sports, try gymnastics, dance or martial arts classes. Your child will be fit in no time — just don’t forget to keep up your own exercise routine.

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