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Children's Fitness

Get some ideas for younger children's fitness (and youth fitness). Keep them off the sofa and outdoors working out in the wind and rain with some great, and fun, ideas and tips.

Numerous recent studies show that a vast majority of children follow a sedentary lifestyle, with the main culprit being the TV and computer games.

Positive steps need to be taken to encourage children to become more active. By doing so many conditions and diseases associated with sedentary life will rise as inactive children become inactive adults.

The main principles of exercises and training used by adults also apply to children, however the following guidelines should be used.

  • Variety and enjoyment:

    This will aid to keeping children motivated, and help encourage them to come again.
  • Demonstration:

    Children learn better through watching a clear demonstration. If you spend to long talking the children will get bored, and quickly lose interest.
  • Services:

    Provide both toilet facilities and refreshments, especially if it is warm.
  • Competitions:

    Children find competitions, such as relays fun. Try to arrange the teams so that al the children either win or lose, avoid making the activity to competitive. Reward all the children both winners and losers at the end.
  • Music:

    Current music with a good beat, around 120 beats per minute is ideal for most activity's, remembering not to have the music to loud, as you will find it difficult to explain what is happening.
  • Teaching:

    If you aim to use an activity to teach children the benefits of exercise, avoid any more than two teaching points at any one time, as exercise and having fun should be your main objective.


As with all exercise a gradual warm up and stretch should be implemented into the program.

Depending on the age group, and your own experience you can try a simple aerobic style warm-up, or a simpler pulse raiser and mobility style warm-up.

North South East West (Pulse Raiser Mobility warm-up)

  • Start with the children in the center of the room. Point to the walls, and name them North South East and West.
  • Call out a direction and get the children to move towards that wall.
  • Vary their movement by including:- Walking / Running / Bounding / Hopping / Funny Walking / Side Stepping / Skipping / Walking & Jogging with swimming arms, (Front crawl, breast stroke,back stroke and butterfly)
  • Try to catch the children out by pointing to one wall and calling the name of another. Add further variety by calling out "Floor" children immediately lie down, and "ceiling", the children try and touch the ceiling.
  • Children are unable to stay still for long, and the fact that static stretching is not suitable for dynamic movements, aim to add dynamic stretches throughout the warm-up.


Children's Circuit

Set out a circuit dependent on the size of your group. Remember children will work best in pairs, so a 10 station circuit can cater for at least 20 children. If your group is larger than 20, you should certainly have more than one adult, in which case you could split the group into two, one group doing the circuit whilst another does a different activity.

Demonstrate all the circuit stations clearly, with both circuit cards and visual demonstration. Allow about 30 - 45 seconds on each station, with a minimum of 20 - 30 second's rest between stations.

Depending on the size of the circuit, aim to go around 2 - 3 times, and ideally lay out the circuit so that you have no similar exercises next to each other, i.e. two arm exercises.




¾ Press–up, lower the chest slowly up and down towards the floor, bending at the elbow, taking the arms out to the side. Keep the wrists facing forward under the shoulders.

Normal Sit up, clasp hands behind the head, and slowly sit up to an angle of no more than 30 degrees, before lowering. Keep elbows out to the side, and legs bent at the knee. Encourage keeping the chin of the chest, by placing a tennis ball under it.

Ball catching in pairs, or if singular against a wall. Variations include changing the distance apart, bouncing the ball, rolling the ball, different ball shapes.

Wall jump, from a squat position, aim to jump up as high as possible, along the side of a wall, and reach out to markers along the wall. Holding a piece of chalk in that hand, can help them place a mark where they jumped up to.

Bicep curls and or shoulder press, use a lightweight and have controlled exercises performed. Elbows tucked into the side for biceps, and weights lowered to shoulders on shoulder press.

Shoulder press, using small weights, or improvising with tins of beans etc., take the weight down to your shoulders and lift up above the head. Make sure that any weights are safe and suitable for all to use.

Star jumps or Stride jumps. Star jumps you jump high off the floor, taking hands and feet out to the side. Stride jumps are taking the feet and hands out to the side, with no jump, (easier). 

Slalom Dribbling, set out a circuit made from cones or bean bags, and allow the children to dribble around them with a football, basketball, or hockey stick and ball. 

Skipping on the spot, or up and down the room. Alternatively, you can do high knee running on the spot. Try and teach the children to jump with both feet together to start, then to alternate onto each foot. 

Balance a beanbag on their head / shoulders / feet, whilst they walk around the room. Once they get the balance on their head, you can get them to balance the bag on other parts of their body, such as shoulder or foot. If you do not have any beanbags, improvise by rolling up a sock. To add competition set up a shuttle run or small obstacle course, which the children can be timed over.

There are a number of exercises, which can be used, the key is to make sure that they are fun and enjoyable, and simple to teach.

Demonstrate how to do the exercise, at the beginning of the class will aid you to make sure the children are performing the exercises correctly.


  • Arrange children into groups, the smaller the group, the harder the workout.
  • On the command "go" the first child runs to a mat at the end of the room, and performs a set number of exercises, i.e. 10 sit-ups. On the return they change with other members in the group.
  • Many varieties can be added to this basic form, these include dribbling a ball up and back, different exercises at the end.

Circle running

  • Arrange children into a circle, (standing about 1 m apart) facing inwards. Call out a description that only applies to a few children, such as:- Wearing red shorts, brown hair, blue eyes, born in June etc.
  • The children to whom the call applies run round the outside of the circle in a clockwise direction and return to their starting position.

Rope Jump

  • Using a long piece of rope, or two skipping ropes joined together, stand in the middle of the children, whom should be in a circle.
  • Spin the rope around, so that the children have to jump over it.
  • Those that catch the rope with their feet or legs are asked to skip this game.
  • Continue on, turning the rope faster, or higher off the floor, until only one child remains.

Destroyers and Rescuers

  • Use as many double colored bean bags or pieces of card, as there are children. Place the beanbags or pieces of card around the room with the same color upwards.
  • Split the children into two groups, destroyers and rescuers. On the command the destroyers have to turn the beanbags over to show the other color. Mean while the rescuers can turn them back to show the original color. Both groups can only use their hands. Kicking or throwing is not permitted. Swap the groups around after a set period of time (60) seconds.
  • Count the number of beanbags / cards in various colors to see which group won.
  • Change the roll of each group, as well as changing the persons within the groups, ideally so that everyone gets a chance to win.

Hopefully these notes will be of some help, just remember the key point, MAKE THE ACTIVITY ENJOYABLE.

If the children enjoy the exercise, then they will work harder, however avoid pushing any children to hard.

Children working with weights should always use lightweights, due to the fact that their body's are still developing, and heavy weights can cause long term damage in most children.

If you find any children that are obviously gifted in a chosen sport, or simply keen on it, encourage them to join that particular club.

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