7 Home Workouts You Can Do With Your Kids This Summer

Updated: Mar. 29, 2021

Fitness experts reveal their fun home workouts to help keep kids physically active and entertained through summer.

With Covid-19 closures still happening across the country, some summer camps have decided to cancel plans for this year, leaving the typically more than 7.2 million campers at home. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention leaves it up to each individual camp to decide if they’ll reopen, offering tips for camp directors to help them decide if it’s the right decision. But with the unpredictable spread of the coronavirus, that likely means some camps will decide to skip the season of young visitors.

To help parents keep kids entertained, active, and outside as much as possible, we asked trainers who work with kids for their best strategies for having fun while moving more. The good news: So many benefits come from exercising as a family—and all these suggestions make it enjoyable for kids and adults alike. (For even more ideas, check out these 47 fun ways to have a healthy, active family.)

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Benefits of parents and kids working out together

“One of the best ways to strengthen your bonds as a family to is get active together. You’ll create lasting memories and instill positive patterns in your children,” says Adam Rosante, strength and nutrition coach and founder of Gym Class with Adam. “Seeing mom and dad enjoying physical movement is a strong way to help kids enjoy being active, for life.”

Nastassia Smith, national director of group fitness operations at Life Time, which offers family-friendly classes, says working out with your kids teaches them that paying attention to health and exercise is an important part of life. “When kids work out with their parents, it not only benefits them physically, but also teaches them valuable life skills,” she says. In addition to the body benefits, movement and words of encouragement during that movement can help children feel confident and exercise can boost their moods too, she adds.

Active games to keep your kids (and you) entertained

When deciding what activities to do, Rosante says to think about your child moving via skipping, running, hopping, jumping, crawling, pushing, pulling, rotating, and resisting rotation. “That may sound like a mouthful, but when you think about it, these are just fundamental human movement patterns,” Rosante says.

Of course, to get kids to exercise more, you have to make it fun. Try these seven strategies to make that happen. (Also, here’s 7 healthy reasons kids should try yoga.)

Play tag, but give it a clever spin

You know the general rules of tag—someone is “it” and tries to chase and catch everyone else. Add a little more fun to it by making the person who is “it” choose an animal everyone needs to mimic as they move, a version Rosante calls “Safari Tag.” Everyone can crawl like a bear, hop like a frog, run like a cheetah, or even slither like a snake, he suggests.

If you’re playing with more than two people, you can also turn it into freeze tag, too, in which everyone who gets tagged freezes in their animal pose, and other players can unfreeze them by crawling between their legs or hopping over them. When the “it” person freezes everyone or time is up, they choose who does the freezing next. (If you’re someone who hates exercise, check out these workouts.)

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Create an obstacle course

You can make this as big or small as you want. Simple lay out obstacles from start to finish, explaining to everyone the rules of whether they have to balance, step, climb, jump, run, dance, or crawl around from spot to spot. Get the kids involved in the rulemaking, too, says Rosante, as they’ll have more fun and a sense of ownership in the game. Then, use a stopwatch to see how long it takes each person in the family to complete the course. Go for round two to see if you can beat your times.

Blake Shutterly, a CrossFit Level 2 coach and instructor for NEO Kids suggests making the course even more challenging by keeping the kids from touching the ground or they’ll risk hitting “lava.” Get creative with hand towels, paper, pillows, or coasters, so the kids can move around without ever touching the floor. If they accidentally do touch it, give them an activity to do before starting over, like frog hops or sit-ups.

Switch up your catch game

Grab a ball and head outside. One person is the thrower and the others are the “goers,” who sit on the ground facing the thrower. The thrower then tosses the ball without warning as far as possible, and the goers have to get up and run after it. The first person to grab it wins and becomes the thrower. Rosante suggests switching up the position of the goers, too, like making them lie on their backs or bellies, kneel, or start on all-fours. (Here’s what to know about the simple things all healthy kids have in common.)

Create an active “funalty” aka a fun penalty

Shutterly suggests choosing a song and a way to move around the house, whether that’s crawling, walking, hopping, or crab walking. When the song stops, shout out a color and a part of the body everyone has to touch to that color (in other words, an elbow to a red pillow or scarf, or a foot to a green chair). Give the kids a five-second countdown to make it happen, and whoever does not complete the task does a “funalty” like a dance or burpees or a quick sprint (or any other clever outcome you can come up with). If everyone completes it, the person calling out the color does the funalty.

You can also create a funalty for a game called “I Choose.” To play, designate three or four areas of the house as bases, like the couch, coffee table, or wall. Put on a 30-second timer and assign the kids to an activity to do for that time, like bunny hops or bear crawls. When the timer goes off, close your eyes, count down from five, allow the kids to choose a base, and then without looking, guess which kid is on which base. If you choose correctly, the kids do the designated funalty and if you don’t, you do it.

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Turn rock-paper-scissors into a workout

Who doesn’t love rock-paper-scissors? But for this version, instead of just doing the hand gestures, add a few minutes of activity for a few rounds, Shutterly says. For example, choose a certain movement (like high knees or jumping jacks) to do for one minute. At the end of the minute, play rock-paper-scissors. Whoever wins gets two points, the loser gets one point and if it’s a tie, no one gets a point. Go for 10 rounds. Whoever wins has to do fewer reps or skip the finishing exercise, like a set of burpees. (Learn the 10 bad habits that can actually be good for you.)

Add activity to follow-the-leader

Try a game that’s almost like Simon Says, but with a little more intensity and structure. Choose a movement to do for 30 seconds, like squats or sit-ups, and count your reps, Shutterly says. Then have your kid do the same thing. Keep going back and forth, choosing a new exercise each time, and see who gets more reps in as you go.

Make runs or rides more engaging with competition

No matter what you’re doing with your kids, you can always turn it into a race to get them to get more involved and more active. For example, on your next bike ride, run, or walk, race the kids to a tree ahead. Repeat that competition throughout the entire ride to keep the kids excited or wrap up the run or ride by seeing who can make the final stretch home the fastest, Smith says.