Physical exercise is absolutely vital to the maintenance of optimal health.
It is no secret that running is a great way to get the blood pumping around your body and release some endorphins.
When teaching kids, it can be hard to get them motivated, particularly if they are not naturally sporty.
This is especially true when you are dealing with young kids. In these cases, it is a good idea to try and hide the fact that they are exercising with games.
The children will be so distracted by the game and their desire to win that they will forget that they don’t like running and that they are tired.
Eventually, this will lead to the development of a positive association in their brains between exercise and happiness.
What are the benefits of running?
If you teach your children young the importance of regular exercise, you will be setting them up brilliantly for later life.
Making exercise a fundamental part of day to day life will instill great habits into your children that they will keep with them for the rest of their lives.
It is a great activity to do as a whole family. It is cheap and can be done anywhere, and is suitable for all fitness levels.
Even if you are not much of a runner yourself, you can run alongside your kids and improve as they do.
Running is an endurance sport that improves with practice. This makes it a great way to teach your kids the importance of perseverance and dedication.
Over time, they will notice improvements in their performance and stamina, motivating them to keep going.
It is a good activity to do for self-esteem. Your child does not have to compete with anyone but themselves when they run.
If they set goals regularly once they meet that target they will have an ego boost which will improve their confidence levels. This confidence will be transferred to other aspects of their lives too.
Capture the Flag
Capture the flag is a great game to play with kids, particularly when you have a large group of them to entertain.
It involves splitting them up into teams and fosters a great sense of collaborative working.
How do you play?
You need to split the kids up into two teams of equal sizes. Explain to them that they should split their teams into offensive and defensive players.
Split the pitch in half across the width. Place one flag at each end of the pitch, as far from the center line as possible.
Stand one team in each half of the pitch. Assign the flags to the team on the opposite half of the pitch. You should make it clear that the goal is to get the flag from the opposite end.
When the kids are standing equidistant from the center line, blow the whistle. At this point, they are allowed to cross into the other team’s half.
If a player gets tagged in the opposing team’s half, they must go to ‘jail’.
This should be a spot out of the playing area where the jailed player goes to for a 30 second penalty before rejoining the game. They can also get out of jail if a teammate tags them, freeing them from jail.
When the flag has been captured, the team holding it has won.
Relay races are a great way to improve teamwork, communication, and coordination in the kids.
They are also a form of interval training that has been proven to have many health benefits.
How do you play?
You will need to split your kids up into 4 groups that are all of an equal size. Tell each group to assemble into a single file line at each of the corners of your gym or pitch.
The person at the front of each line is the first runner. They must run diagonally to the opposite corner on the other side and high five the first person in that line.
Once they have done this, they will join the back of the line.
The person who was high fived runs across the edge of the room to the other corner on the same side. The person at the front runs diagonally across the pitch and the same thing happens.
This continues until everyone has made it back to their original starting positions. If this game is done correctly, the kids will be running in an hourglass pattern around the room.
Sharks and minnows
This is another teamwork game that works to improve teamwork, explosive speed, and agility.
It is also very good for refining the kids’ listening skills and they will all enjoy it a lot.
How do you play?
Again, you should split the children into 2 different teams of equal sizes. Stand each team at opposing ends of the pitch in a straight line. Pick one child to stand in the center of the pitch.
Tell the groups of children that they are the minnows and the child in the center that they are the shark. The goal for the shark is to tag as many minnows as possible.
When you blow the whistle, the shark should call out ‘fishies, fishies, come out and play’ and the minnows begin walking across the pitch.
At any time, the shark can yell out ‘shark attack’. This is the cue for the minnows to rush from one end of the pitch to the other. The goal for them is to not get tagged by the shark.
Once the shark has tagged a minnow, they too become a shark. The sharks remain in the center of the pitch and try to catch other minnows.
The last minnow standing is the winner. If you are playing multiple rounds, the last minnows standing become the sharks for the next round.
Mountains and molehills
This is a really easy yet fun game that improves the kids’ communication, teamwork, and agility.
Best of all, it only takes 2 minutes to set up and all you need is some cones.
How do you play?
You will first need to place a large number of cones randomly scattered around the room or across the pitch. Half should be placed the correct way up, and the other half upside down.
Split your kids into 2 groups. Tell one group that they are the mountains and the others that they are the molehills.
The goal is for each team to flip the cones so that they are all their team’s way around. The mountains team should be turning all the cones the right way up, and vice versa for the molehills.
Allow them to play like this for a few minutes, and then blow the whistle and count the number of cones each team got.
The beauty of this game is that it requires no resetting in between games. You can simply blow the whistle to start the game from the point it was left at.
Younger children will need a longer playing time than older kids as it will take them longer to flip the cones.
This is a great way to get the kids active and running around without even realizing that they’re exercising.
They get so caught up in the excitement of looking for whatever the next prize is that they forget they’re even running.
You will need a list of items to find, some time to hide all of the prizes, and things to hide! This is a great exercise to work the kids mentally and physically.
How do you play?
You should create a list of items to find that corresponds with the location that you have hidden them. This will be your master list and should not be passed on to the kids.
Create a second list for the kids with vague hints and clues as to where to look for each item. It is good to have some easier and other harder clues to keep their morale up.
Tell the kids that they need to run to the location of each clue to look for the item hidden there. Once they have found it, they should run it back to you to be checked before they move on to looking for the next item.
You can play this game in teams or as individuals - although this will be much harder to organize. You could mix up the game by telling the kids to use different ways to move for each clue.
For example, one could be running, another skipping, another lunging. The only limit is your imagination and the more you mix up the instructions the less time the kids have to get bored and lose motivation.
Water balloon dodgeball
This is a great game to play in the summertime when the temperatures are warm and the weather is sunny. Kids love nothing more than playful fights (like food or water) and will get stuck into this in no time.
You will need a range of water balloons, access to a tap, and some large buckets to play this game.
How do you play?
You should fill up a large number of the water balloons and tie them closed to secure them.
You should split the children up into 2 different teams and tell them to elect a captain. Take this time to remind the children that they should not be aiming for faces.
Suggest to them to aim for below the neck, preferably arms and legs.
Flip a coin to decide which team is throwing the water balloons and which is dodging them.
Place a few buckets filled with the water balloons on the pitch. Tell your teams to go as you blow the whistle and begin the timer.
Once you have been struck with a balloon you must go to the sideline and sit out. When all of the dodging team are sat on the sidelines, stop the timer.
At this point, the teams switch roles and the game begins again. The winning team is the one that gets their opposition out in the shortest period of time.
Tag is a classic kids’ playground game and there are so many different variations.
How do you play?
There is one person in the group of kids that is the designated tagger. Their job is to chase around all of the free kids and tag them.
In the original version, once tagged you become the tagger and must chase others around.
One is the one-legged tag. In this game, the tagger must hop around on one leg to catch everyone else.
Another variation is stuck in the mud. In this game, if you are tagged you must freeze in place. You can become unstuck if another player tags you to release you.
Another is toilet tag. In this variation, if you are tagged you need to squat down and stay in one place with your hand in the air.
You can be freed by another player pushing your hand down to flush the toilet and release you.
You can also play a variation where everyone is the tagger. They must just run around tagging as many people as possible and keeping count in their heads.
When the whistle blows they will all tell you their tag tallies and the person with the highest number wins. This will only work for older children who can easily keep count.
Another variation is band-aid tag. This game has one tagger and 2 doctors, while all other players are patients.
If one of the patients is tagged, they must place their hand over the tagged spot as a band-aid. If they are tagged for a second time then they must cover this spot with their other hand.
If they are tagged again they must stand still on the pitch and wait for a doctor to come and heal them.
Once the doctor has touched you, you are ready to go and run around again.