Parenting, Staying Sane

50 Ways to Exercise with Your Younger Kids

Trying to exercise but keep your babies and toddlers away is like trying to keep flies off honey. If you are down on the floor doing things, they want to be climbing on top of you.

While this is a nice compliment (nothing says “love” like “Mommy play with me”, although it doesn’t always feel like it), it doesn’t really help you get any good exercise in.

So here are my 50 ways to sneak some exercise in with the little ones, in ways that will actually let you get some exercise too! Bonus: they might get worn out enough to nap for you. It’s a win-win.

So in no particular order, here are the 50 ways:

  1. Pretend to be racecars! Set a track and race around it until they can’t keep running anymore.
  2. Yoga videos! Set up a towel as a mat for them and do some yoga. They’ll love the video, you’ll get a few minutes of stretching, and it can be really calming for kids.
  3. Exercise videos! Same line of thought, but there are a bunch of these on YouTube that are super kid friendly. Even if it only keeps their attention for a few minutes, it can still be fun and get your heart pumping!
  4. Stair races! I don’t know about your kids, but mine love racing. Stair racing is great because man, is it a workout, ands kids think it’s hilarious. You can even skip steps and get some extra leg-ercise in. Seriously, just run up every staircase you come across.
  5. Dance party! Turn on some music and dance dance dance!
  6. Airplane rides! Use your kids as weights and give them an airplane ride through the air! You can balance them up on your feet or use your arms. The more you do it, the stronger you get! You can have one of your older kids balance a stuffed animal while you balance a younger child too.
  7. Use them as weights for regular workouts! I actually do this. I don’t own any weights, but I have three kids of varying sizes! They think it’s hilarious!
  8. Play tag! It’s a simple game with a lot of running, and you can play inside or outside!
  9. Play at the playground! If the weather is warm enough, definitely get outside. Run up the stairs with them, slide down the slide, climb the ladders, try your hand at the monkey bars. Believe me, this is one of the best workouts ever, and your kids will love playing with you.
  10. Go on a quest! Pretend play is the best play, and nothing says exercise like fighting dragons, running to the castle, and saving royalty from tall towers (ahem, stepping stools or stairs). It takes being a little creative, but there’s definitely a lot of exercise potential.
  11. The floor is lava! Lay your couch cushions on the floor and jump from cushion to cushion. Save each other when you fall in!
  12. Do push-ups with them on your back! It’s hard, and I do push-ups with my knees to make it a bit easier, but they get a ride out of it, and you get a challenge: win-win!
  13. Do push-ups with them! Show them the basics and let them do them with you! They loved to follow along and push ups are pretty easy to teach. Other exercises my kids have loved (no, seriously, they love them) are mountain climbers and ab biking. No joke. They think they’re fun.
  14. Walk like zoo animals! This is a sneaky way of getting in lunges, knee-ups, jumping, etc. Do the animal noises too for extra fun!
  15. Crazy hopscotch! Draw out a really long hopscotch board with lots of silly actions on each square. When you get the pebble (or whatever you use to throw), you do the action on that square, then hop back!
  16. Simon Says! “Simon says touch your toes! Simon says jump up high! Spin in a circle! Oops!” Great game, potential for lots of movement!
  17. Obstacle course! It’s hilarious for kids when the adults try to run the same obstacle course as them…have you tried army crawling underneath a chair recently? Getting on their level and going over/under/around half the furniture in your house is good fun and good exercise.
  18. Jump rope! Or, if your kids are too little, jumping jacks. Jump rope is such good cardio and helps your kids’ coordination.
  19. Horsie back rides! Lumbering around with a kid on your back is basically a good laugh for everyone. Combine with the “going on a quest” idea, and you can be the trusty steed for all their adventures!
  20. Throw them in the air! Just make sure you catch them again. Best with smaller kids, but kudos if you can do it with the older ones.
  21. Hold a mini Olympics! Sprinting, “ice skating”, “synchronized swimming”, pick a sport to pretend to do and you’re golden. Besides, synchronized swimming with a three year old while rolling around the rug is enough fun to make your sides split from laughing–and that’s a good ab workout!
  22. Go swimming! Another summer one, but still excellent. It’s not as good as swimming laps, but moving through water will always burn more calories than walking through air.
  23. Skip! Take a walk and skip the whole time, or skip around your house if it’s cold outside! Raise those knees up for extra work!
  24. Try out cartwheels again! My kids can do them mostly, but I’ve never been able to. Get out on some soft grass and give it a go!
  25. Play some soccer! Football, for any of my non-American readers. Kicking a ball is easy for kids and good for running! You could also play kickball if that’s more your style!
  26. Be birds for a day! Flap your “wings” to get everywhere (basically, do arm circles). It looks a little silly but kids love it!
  27. Challenge your kids to touch their toes! I bet they can and you can’t. Let’s work on it.
  28. Crab walk around the house! First of all, it’s silly, and second, it works some muscles you probably forgot you had.
  29. Play duck-duck-goose! Some running and resting, great for getting started!
  30. Copycat the TV! If your kids just aren’t getting into it, you can always play copycat. Watch their favorite TV show and copy what they do: fight bad guys, fly through the air, climb ladders, etc. A little bit of media with some exercise thrown in!
  31. Rearrange the furniture! Kids (well, mine at least) think anytime we change things up, it is awesome. Plus, you can vacuum place you don’t usually, and pushing all that furniture around is great for your legs/shoulders/etc. Move things carefully!
  32. Go for a bike ride! Even if it’s just up and down your street, bike rides are awesome!
  33. Do some indoor bike pedaling! Too cold for a ride, or too advanced for your kiddos? Lay on your backs and pedal your feet in the air! You can also do flutter kicks or windshield wipers to mix it up.
  34. Exercise cards! You can find a number of them on Pinterest for kids. Just print them out and then pick at random, have your kids pick, etc, and do the exercises together!
  35. Go puddle jumping! You’re outside, there’s water, there’s jumping, kids love it! Especially when Mom/Dad joins in, because we make extra big splashes! You can go leaf jumping too, if it’s the right season.
  36. Build a snowman! Let’s face it, with little kids, most of the work is on you. Being bundled up while you build is like having your own personal sauna, too.
  37. Have a snowball fight! You thought rolling snow up is hard, running in snow is awful. But kids love it!
  38. Take them sledding! I know, I know, another snow one?? (Can you tell it’s a little snowy where I am?) But seriously. Running down after the sled and dragging it back up is some serious cardio, even on a little hill.
  39. Frog jump! You can add some math to this and measure how far you can each jump. Astound those kiddos with your jumping skills!
  40. Tickle fights! Make sure it’s a fair fight and not just your kid getting barraged. Run after them, tickle, then run away! So many giggles!
  41. Caterpillar walk! I know, so many animal exercises, but they’re very kid-friendly. A caterpillar walk is basically when you lay flat, then inch your legs up until you’re bent in half (or as close as you can manage), then inch your arms out until your flat again! Kids make it look easy. It’s not.
  42. Stability ball exercise! Either hold of your kids while you exercise, show them how to do the exercises for it, or just bounce together! Even balancing on it can be a good challenge.
  43. Jump on a trampoline! Do you remember how exhausting that is?
  44. Hula hoop together! I hear it’s fantastic exercise, but I’m not great at it. If all else fails, jump from hula hoop to hula hoop, or put on a circus show by jumping through it!
  45. Go for a hike! Better than your average walk, go on a great adventure through rocks and trees and discover fun things! I know here in Utah there are a bunch of kid-friendly hiking trails, but a quick Google search should show you what’s in your area.
  46. Have a clean-up-the-toys race! Or a clean anything race! It may not get the cleanest, but some crazy running and vigorous scrubbing will get you your exercise and a slightly cleaner house.
  47. Teach them how to somersault! Another one of those “wow, I did not remember this took so much energy” exercises. Get fancy and do some backwards somersaults!
  48. Chair exercises! Great for beginners and smaller-small kids, chair exercises are fun and give you something to help steady yourself and your toddler. Again, check out Pinterest for a million ideas!
  49. Play catch! It’s such a classic! Great for hand-eye coordination, and if they’re young enough, you might spend enough time running after stray balls to get some cardio too.
  50. Plank! It sounds silly, but approach it like the plank challenge and do it in silly places, or with arms out like a superhero, and suddenly you have bunches of happy plankers giggling all over!

There are also a bunch of classes you can take together, gyms you can join where they can be in daycare and run with the other kids, etc, etc. I just lean towards things I don’t have to pay for.

Honestly though?

Almost anything your kids do for play can be turned into exercise.

They spend all day running and playing, and we’d do well to imitate them.

Of course, there are still lots of things to get done during the day, but make sure you take 15-30 minutes and run around with them. Your kids and your body will love you.


What do you do to exercise with your kids?

Comment below and let us know!


Photo credit in image to Blaise Vonlanthen on Unsplash

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