20 AWESOME Exercises for Kids (2024)

Exercise is crucial for kids to learn how to lead a healthy lifestyle!

Exercise is vital for all of us, including kids. It improves strength, flexibility, endurance, energy, and can improve a child’s ability to be able to concentrate at school!

I am a physical education teacher, and I am very passionate about getting kids moving! Most of the time, too, you don’t have to drag kids into doing exercise. They WANT to do it!

Before diving into all the fun, there are a few things you’ll need to grab before starting to exercise with your kids.

Kids Exercise Mat

Jump Ropes

Hula Hoop

Exercising requires parental supervision. Make sure you are with your child when they are exercising to ensure they are doing the moves correctly to prevent injury. 

Activity #1: Superman Holds

Every little boy and girl wants to be like superman or superwomen!

The superman hold improves back, glutes, and hamstring muscles.

superman hold exercise

How to help teach this exercise:

1. Start by having your little one lay down on their stomach.

2. Have them lift up their arms and legs at the same time. Their arms should be straight in front of them and their legs as high as they can go!

3. Challenge them to hold it for 15 seconds to start. Gradually increase this amount over time!

Activity #2: Mountain Climbers

Mountain climbers are a fun and simple exercise for kids to grasp.

It works on their upper body strength, core muscles, and lower body, can’t beat that right?

Even though they are little ones, you want them to be strong and healthy! That’s why doing exercises like these are important.

Take a look at this short video to see how to teach this exercise.

YouTube video

How to teach this exercise:

1. Start by having your kids get into the push-up position. Their hands are flat on the floor, arms pushed-up, so their body isn’t touching the floor, and they should be on the tips of their feet.

2. Have them bring up one leg towards their chest, and the other one should stay straight.

3. Then, they should do a slight hop with their feet to switch which leg is straight and which leg is bent towards their chest.

4. They will repeat this, switching legs getting faster and faster with practice!

Activity #3: Planks

This exercise is excellent because you can add in some learning! With my students’ at school, we hold a plank position and say the alphabet.

Working on counting? This could also be done by counting to 30, so kids get to practice counting that high!

plank exercise

How to teach this exercise:

1.   Materials you need- kids exercise mat

kids exercise mat

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2.  Have your kiddo lay down on the floor on their stomach.

3. Their forearms should be separated, and they should make fists with their hands.

4. When ready, they can push their bodies up, so they are off the floor being held up by their forearms.

5. The balls of their feet should be on the ground as well!

6. Challenge them to hold the plank position for the entire ABC’s or 30 seconds. If they need a break, that’s okay! They can always take a break and try to finish! Over time, they will get stronger and be able to hold it.

RELATED: 21 PERFECT Alphabet Activities For Preschoolers

Activity #4: Jumping Jacks

This is my go-to exercise for kids! Believe it or not, learning how to do a jumping jack properly takes some time.

Jumping jacks are a high energy cardiovascular exercise that your kids will love.

jump jacks for kids

How to teach this exercise:

1. Start slow! Show them the position they should be in when they are popped out. Both arms and legs popped out.

2. Demonstrate what it should look like when they come back in (arms to their sides and feet together).

3. Keep going slow until they start understanding how to do them correctly.

4. Challenge them to do ten jumping jacks using the correct form!

Activity #5: High Knees

High knees are a fun, upbeat cardiovascular exercise!

This activity is easy for kids to do, and they can probably keep going for an extended period.

high knees exercise

How to teach this exercise:

1. This exercise is done standing up.

2. Have your kids bring up their knees towards their chest as quickly as they can.

3. They should be alternating legs!

4. Have them do this activity for 30 seconds to start. If they want to keep going, that’s great!

Activity #6: Butt Kicks

Kids will love this activity just because of the name 🙂

This exercise targets the hamstrings and glute muscles!

Want to see how both the high knees and butt kicks are performed? Take a look at this video.

YouTube video

How to teach this exercise:

1. Instead of bringing their knees up like the high knees, they are going to be bringing their legs back to “kick their butt.”

2. The goal for this exercise is to have the kids have the heels of their feet touch their bottom.

3. They will alternate legs again, just like the high knees activity.

Activity #7: Crunches

My daughter is 5, and she does crunches for dance class.

I’m astounded that she can do them so well! Crunches can be tough. It is an exercise that people get better at with practice! Yes, people meaning adults too! Crunches are hard for me to do; I’m not ashamed to admit that.

crunches for kids

How to teach this exercise:

1. Have your child lay down on the floor on their backs.

2. They should place their arms above their heads, elbows bent, and their hands on the back of their hands.

3. Their knees should be bent with their feet flat on the floor!

4. Okay, now that we got the set-up complete, it’s time to do the exercise! Have your little one lift their head up with their arms still behind their heads.

5. When they sit-up, they should get close to their thighs but not touch them, and then they should lower themselves back to the ground.

6. Challenge them to do this ten times in the beginning and gradually go up as they continue to get stronger!

Activity #8: Lunges

Lunges are a great lower body and abdominal workout!

When doing this exercise, try to do it in a long hallway so your kiddo has room to complete a few lunges before needing to turn around!

lunge excercise

How to teach this exercise:

1. To start off this exercise, your child should stand straight and extend their left leg straight, then lower it by bending their leg and keeping their foot flat on the floor (position shown in picture).

2. Their right leg should be bent, but it should not touch the floor. The best way to do this stretch is to challenge them to keep their knee off the floor! They will feel the stretch WAY more.

3. Then, they can come back together, standing up straight then do the same routine but with right leg bent foot flat on the floor. The left leg should be bent but should not touch the floor.

4. Challenge your child to go all the way down the hallway and back if they are loving it!

Activity #9: Jump Rope Jumps

Jumping rope is a cardiovascular work out that is exciting for kids, but it can be a challenge!

The good thing is, is that you can do this skill with or without a jump rope!

YouTube video

How to teach this exercise:

1. Materials you need: jump rope

jump rope for kids

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2. Before throwing a jump rope into the mix, have your kids practice jumping up and down, pretending like they have a jump rope in hands!

3. They can practice jumping from side to side and on one foot as well!

4. Ready to add in the jump rope? Have your little one start with the jump rope behind them. Have them propel the jump rope to the front, and then once it’s on the floor, have them jump over it.

NOTE: This technique breaks down the steps on how to jump rope. This is the first step in learning how to do it correctly!

5. Once your child can do that correctly, they can try to put all of that together to jump over the rope as many times as they can.

Activity #10: Push-Ups

Push-ups are a tough exercise, especially for younger children, because they need to work on upper body strength exercises to be able to do a bunch of them.

However, that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t do the exercise. It means that they should work slowly at them to get stronger!

How to teach this exercise:

1. Have your child get in the push-up position with their arms spread apart, and they should be on the balls of their feet.

push up position

2. They should bend their arms as far as they can. The goal is to hit a 90-degree angle eventually (this is shown in the picture below). But, this will be tough for kids.

3. Once your little one bends their arms as far as they can, they should straighten their arms and then repeat this process for as long as they can!

push-up position

Activity #11: Squats

Squats are an easy exercise to teach kids, plus you don’t need any equipment, which is always a win right?

child doing squat exercise

How to teach this exercise:

1. Have your little one start by standing straight with their feet flat on the floor a few steps apart (see the above picture).

2. They should slowly start bending their knees like they are about to sit in the chair. They shouldn’t go too low!

3. Your child should hold the squat position for quick second then stand back up and repeat as many times as they can!

4. To challenge older kids, they can add a small jump when they stand back up before they go back down to the squat position!

Activity #12: Yoga

I could probably do a whole other article just on Yoga stretches kids can do (hm…. maybe you may be seeing this in the future).

Yoga is such a fantastic activity to increase flexibility, strength, and mental health.

I could make you a giant list of yoga exercises that you can do with your kiddos, but I think providing you with a video is a way better option!

I recommend having the kids use a yoga mat! Check out this one I linked below. There are multiple design options!

kids exercise mat

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Want a fantastic kid-friendly yoga video that you can do together as a family? We practice yoga all the time with this, Sophia!

YouTube video

Activity #13: Running

Kids LOVE running.

In the warm-up I do in my PE classes, the kids all want to get to the part where they do their warm-up laps.

In my opinion, running is the best exercise out there.

How to do this exercise:

1. For kids, you just want to focus on telling them to look in front of them while running, keep their hands relaxed, and pushing their feet off the ground instead of just lifting them.

Note: Advanced runners have a specific technique that they use for lots of different parts of their bodies. For kids, just stick to the basics.

2. Ways to work on running- relay races, tag games, and running for fun while outside!

Want some inspiration for relay races? Take a look at my 40 EPIC Field Day Activities article.

Activity #14: Hula Hooping

How much fun is hula hooping?!

It actually is an exercise! Some people use weighted hula hoops to exercise with! Hula hooping works core muscles and also improves balance and coordination.

How to do this exercise:

1. Materials you need- hula hoop

hula hoop for kids

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I love this step-by-step video created on how to teach kids how to hula hoop! Take a look.

YouTube video

Mind blown! For years, I have been hula hooping and teaching kids how to hula hoop with their feet slightly apart, like how she mentioned using just your hips.

Hula hooping is a tough skill for kids to pick up! I’m so excited to implement this technique with the kids at school and my kids at home!

Activity #15: Jumping

Jumping is an exciting and easy exercise for kids that helps build upper and lower body strength and flexibility.

There are many different types of jumps that kids can practice.

jumping for kids

Types of jumps

a. Straight jumps– Jumping with both your legs straight as high as you can!

b. Tuck jumps– When jumping, bring both knees towards your chest.

c. Straddle jumps(toe touch) – Jumping with both legs spread out in a straddle position (picture shown above)

d. Half turns– When jumping, have them start facing one way looking at a specific object. When they land, they should be facing the opposite wall looking at a different object. Keep doing this several times in a row!

e. Full turns– Perform a full turn jump by facing one wall looking at an object and propel your body (by using your arms like an airplane) to make a full turn to land and face that same object!

f. Pike jumpsYour kids should bring both legs up straight together in front of their body and jump as high as can! This one is a bit tough; with practice, this one will get higher!

You can do these activities on the ground, but it’s also nice to have a kid-friendly trampoline. This will help your child practice these jumps and get a great cardiovascular workout!

kids trampoline with handle

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Activity #16: Windmills

Windmills are an excellent activity to work on flexibility!

The kids always love this one when we do it during physical education class.

YouTube video

This activity works on opposition, which is great for kids to practice!

How to teach this exercise:

1.  Have your kids stand with their feet a bit apart with their arms up straight to their sides.

2. They should swing down with their right hand to touch their left foot; they should then swing their body’s back up to the starting position and swing their left hand to their right foot.

3. Challenge them to do this at least ten times! If they want to keep going, then great! It is fun and a great exercise.

Activity #17: Wall Sits

Have you ever done a wall sit?

If you haven’t, you should! It is a fantastic exercise where you can feel the effects just after a few seconds of doing the exercise.

wall sit exercise

How to teach this exercise:

1. Have your little one find a space on the wall where there is nothing in their way.

2. They should have their backs against the wall, and they should position themselves like they are sitting in a chair on the wall.

3. Challenge them to hold this position for 30 seconds! If they can do it longer, that is great!

Activity #18: Burpees

When your kids hear the word burpees, they will laugh immediately! It is a pretty funny name :).

Burpees are an exercise that works all the muscles in your body!

Check out this video below to see how to teach your kids how to do a burpee!

YouTube video

Activity #19: Animal Movements

Your kids will LOVE doing some animal movements to exercise! It’s such a fun way to learn about animals and move your body!

For these animal movement activities that I am about to dive into, I suggest making a starting and stopping point with painter’s tape or cones. This way, your child will have a good understanding of where to start and stop!

cones for kids

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How to teach these exercises:

a. Bear walk– Have your little ones get up on all fours and start walking with both their arms and legs moving forward at the same time on the floor! They can even add in little growling noise to make it a little bit more fun!

b. Crab walk– The kids should sit on the floor with their knees bent, their palms on the floor in line with their shoulders, and feet flat on the floor. They should then lift their bottoms off the floor just a little bit! Then they can start moving their feet and hands at the same time so they can move forwards or backward!

crab walk position for kids

c. Inchworm walk- Just like the bear crawl, have your kiddos get up on all fours. They should slowly walk their hands out until they feel a good stretch. Then, they will move their feet towards their hands. They will continue this movement until the stopping point!

d. Frog jumps– Have your kids squat down in a position where their feet are on the floor, back is straight, and hands are on the floor as well. Their knees shouldn’t be going past their toes. When they are ready, they will jump up as high as they can and come back down to the beginning position. They will do this exercise repeatedly as much as they can!

e. Seal slides- Your kids should lay on the floor and push the upper half of their body up with their arms out straight and hands on the floor. Slowly, they should attempt to move their arms and hands forward. This is a tougher exercise; it involves some upper body strength, so they may not be able to go as long for this one!

We do this video every now and then when practicing animal movements! Check it out!

YouTube video

Activity #20: Dancing

Dancing is my absolute favorite. I was a cheerleader growing up, so it’s always been something that I am passionate about.

It is a great whole body work out that can also help with coordination and balance!

Here is a list of a few fantastic dance songs to get your kids moving 

a.The Cha-Cha Slide by Mr. C The Slide Man

b.Dinosaur Stomp by Koo Koo Kanga Roo

c.I Like To Move It- Crazy Frog

There are so many songs I could list, but these three are exciting dances that we do at home!

We have a Nintendo Switch at home and just got Just Dance 2020! The kids have just loved it, especially during this time where we have been inside due to the Coronavirus.

nintendo switch

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The Just Dance songs and dances are great to work on coordination, balance, and rhythm.

Final Thoughts and Conclusions

Exercise is important for all of us, including kids. It improves strength, flexibility, endurance, energy, and can improve a child’s ability to be able to concentrate at school! 

These 20 AWESOME activities are great to introduce the concept of exercise and what it means to be physically active to children.

Got some exercises that you like to do with your kids that I didn’t mention? I’d love to hear about them. Please leave a comment down below so our community can benefit from your personal experience!

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