Exercise is rapidly declining in young children. One of the major reasons for this is that kids are spending more and more time inside playing video games and watching TV. Why? They simply see these activities as more fun than going outside.
In this blog, we’ll take a look at how to make exercise fun for kids by looking at an often-overlooked part of the equation: play. We’ll also provide a fun list of ideas and explore different types of outdoor equipment (like swing sets and trampolines) to see how they can turn exercise into something your kids will look forward to.
Switching the Emphasis from Exercise to Play
Exercise is an important part of a child's physical and mental development, but it can feel increasingly difficult to encourage kids to get outside and move. Studies are clear that smart devices are addicting. And while moderation is always key, passive scrolling and screen time have led some children to engage in digital play at the exclusion of physical play.
And while a lack of exercise has profound negative consequences on a child’s overall development, we shouldn't let the digital world scare us. It just means getting your kids outside may take a bit more encouragement than before.
In fact, finding a way to make exercise fun — no matter one’s age — is a great way to make a person more likely to participate in it and make it a regular part of their lives. An excellent way to make exercise more fun for your kids is to incorporate play into their physical activity.
The Mental and Physical Benefits of Play
What are the benefits of outdoor play? Not only is it fun, but it also helps children develop important skills like problem-solving, creativity, and social interaction. Play is absolutely an essential part of childhood, and it’s important for children to engage in it on a regular basis.
Play also improves children's physical health by promoting physical activity. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children engage in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day.
7 Ways to Encourage Exercise Through Play
Wondering how to make exercise fun for your kids? We’ve compiled a list of seven of the top ideas below. Exercise and play don’t have to be complicated, they just have to be fun and something that your kids will want to do on a regular basis.
- Sports and clubs. It doesn’t matter if your child is the star player or not, your presence at their sporting event can really encourage them to stick with it and have fun doing it. Also, instead of rewarding a good game with junk food every time, try recognizing their accomplishments with something like a movie night with you or a slightly later bedtime.
- Get kids connected with nature. Exercise and play don’t always have to include constant running around. Try getting out in nature, starting a garden, or checking out nearby parks. Simply getting out in the sun and breathing in the fresh air can instill a sense of adventure in your kids.
- Integrate exercise into family time. Routines become habits. Try taking a walk or a bike ride before or after dinner every night.
- Participate in the fun! Leading by example is powerful. One of the best ways to promote exercise through play is to show your kids that you love doing it too! Go outside with them and be the one that sets the tone for the day.
- Make it something they’ll love. One of the best ways to make exercise fun for your kids is to center it around something they already love. If your child loves superheroes, create an obstacle course with a final level where they have to save the city from their arch-nemesis (played by you!).
- Find ways to be active indoors. When it’s too rainy or hot to play outside, you can still stay active by playing inside! Try out an inside game of tag, have a Nerf gun battle, or integrate a video game by playing something like Wii Fit.
- Use the word “play”. We’ve talked about the importance of exercise through play, and this can apply to anything — even chores. Kids love a challenge and they love games. Consider turning their chores into a game. If they complete them in a set amount of time, consider rewarding them in a healthy manner.
Integrating these seven tips, limiting “screen time” and setting an example will help ensure your children are getting the exercise necessary for proper development.
How to Make Exercise Fun for Kids with Outdoor Play Equipment
Sports and games aren’t the only answers for how to make exercise fun for kids. Another great way is through outdoor play equipment, like adding a swing set, playset, or trampoline to your backyard.
High-quality outdoor equipment does add some curb appeal to your backyard, but more importantly, it helps your kids discover — or rediscover — the joy of exercise and imaginative play. We’ll take a look at the unique play benefits of swing sets, playsets, playhouses, and trampolines in the sections below.
Swing Sets & Playsets
Is swinging a good exercise? Yes! Not only does it engage leg, arm, and core muscles in kids, studies show that outdoor play with swing sets can have as much of a developmental impact on children as a formal classroom setting.
Swing sets and playsets provide children with the opportunity to engage in physical activity in a fun and playful way. They offer children the chance to swing, climb and slide, while playsets provide a variety of activities such as monkey bars, rock walls, and rope ladders.
Swing sets and playsets also present children with the opportunity to engage in imaginative play. Children can use the swing set or playset as the setting to create a whole new world, whether they’re pretending to be pirates on a ship or explorers in a jungle. This type of play is especially important at a young age as it helps children develop their creativity and imagination.
Earlier we mentioned the importance of play and its effects on social interaction. Having a swing set for your children to play on with friends and family can promote social interaction and teamwork through sharing, friendship building, and mutually shared interests.
Choosing the Right Swing Set or Playset
When looking to purchase a swing set or playset, it’s important to choose a high-quality product that’s safe and durable. Look for swing sets and playsets that are made from high-quality materials and have been tested for safety.
Another great option for encouraging exercise through play is playhouses, which can come in a variety of styles and sizes, ranging from small, simple structures to large, elaborate playsets.
When in a playhouse, children are usually actively moving around, climbing, and crawling, which helps to improve their physical health by promoting strength and coordination.
One of the biggest benefits of playhouses is their possibility for encouraging imaginative play. Children can use the playhouse and pretend to be a chef in a kitchen, a princess in a castle, or a doctor in a clinic. This can also allow children to express themselves at a young age and explore different roles and scenarios in a safe and controlled environment.
Playhouses also promote the development of social skills, as they provide an opportunity for children to play together and interact with others. Children can play with friends and siblings in the playhouse, promoting teamwork and cooperation. They can also engage in role-playing scenarios together, which helps develop their social skills, such as sharing, communication, and cooperation.
Choosing the Right Playhouse
Look for playhouses that are made from high-quality materials and constructed to prevent moisture damage from rain. It’s also important to make sure the playhouse is the right size for your child and that it’s appropriate for their age and abilities.
Another way to encourage exercise through play is by purchasing a safe trampoline. Trampolines are a great way to get children to engage in physical activity and have a blast doing it. Trampolines are a low-impact form of exercise, meaning they’re easy on the joints, making them a great option for children of all ages and sizes.
Trampolines are a great exercise for kids. They engage the legs, arms, and core muscles, helping children to develop their physical strength and coordination. Since they engage the entire body, trampolines are also an excellent cardiovascular workout.
Getting your heart rate up to a healthy “cardiovascular zone” throughout the day is important, and the same is true for children. This equates to about 133 beats per minute for children aged 5-7 years old during exercise. Thinking of trampoline games for kids, like crack the egg or bouncing air catch, is a great way to infuse fun play into physical activity.
At the end of the day, jumping on a trampoline is just a downright enjoyable activity that children can enjoy with their friends and family. It’s another great way to encourage exercise through imaginative play since kids can jump on it while pretending to be a gymnast or a superhero.
Choosing the Right Trampoline
Similar to swing sets, playsets, and playhouses, you want to be sure you purchase a trampoline that’s constructed with optimum safety in mind.
At Innovative Playtime, all of our trampolines are engineered for safety with no hard edges and springs. They also include a flexible enclosure to maximize fun while preventing kids from falling off and injuring themselves.
Exercise As the Natural Result of Play
Exercise is important, and it’s all about making it fun for your children. By purchasing a swing set, playset, or trampoline for your backyard, you’re encouraging your children to go out into the great outdoors and play, and exercise is just the healthy, natural result of a life lived in action.