Many of us know that being physically active is good for our physical health, but did you know that physical activity is also beneficial for brain health? Physical activity is especially important for the brain health of children, as they are in the lifecycle phase of constant learning, growth, and development!
The term physical activity refers to any bodily movement that requires energy to perform1. Therefore, when you are doing anything that requires you to move your body, you are being physically active. For kids, some examples of physical activity include playing at a park, engaging in sports activities, or playing active games such as hide and go seek.
When we engage in physical activity, there is an increase in the amount of blood and oxygen going to our brains2. This process results in increased cognitive function, which then improves our ability to learn and critically think3. As children are constantly being introduced to new situations and developing their critical thinking skills, it is easy to see how engaging in physical activity is beneficial for the cognitive development of kids of all ages!
There are many reasons to include physical activity into your child’s day-to-day schedule, and finding ways to make physical activity fun and entertaining may help your kids be more interested! Below are a few examples of games to play with your kids to help them be active.
Physical Activity Examples for Kids
Simply play music and tell your child/children to freeze every time you pause the music. You can also utilize ‘kids freeze dance’ music videos on platforms such as YouTube. Check out this Party Freeze Dance Song from The Kiboomers.
Create a list of household items and distribute the list to your child/children. Have them go around the house finding the items, checking them off as they go. If multiple children are playing, the first child to find all of the items wins.
Rock, Paper, Scissors Game
Stand back-to-back with your child, or, if playing with multiple children, have your children stand back-to-back with one another. On the count of three, players will jump/turn and face each other performing one of the following:
- Rock – squat with hands overhead
- Paper – arms spread to the side and legs spread out.
- Scissors – one arm up and one arm down (like a pair of scissors)
As in the traditional game, scissors beat paper, paper beats rock, and rock beats scissors5.
- World Health Organization. (2022, October 5). Physical activity.https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/physical-activity#:~:text=WHO%20defines%20physical%20activity%20as,part%20of%20a%20person’s%20work.
- UT Southwestern Medical Center. (2021, March 23). Exercise boosts blood flow to the brain, study finds. https://www.utsouthwestern.edu/newsroom/articles/year-2021/exercise-boosts-blood-flow-to-the-brain.html
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, May 21). Physical activity boosts brain health. https://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpao/features/physical-activity-brain-health/index.html#:~:text=Physical%20activity%20can%20improve%20your,of%20physical%20activity%20can%20help
- The Kiboomers – Kids Music Channel. (2015, March 25). Party freeze dance song – The kiboomers preschool songs – circle time game. [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2UcZWXvgMZE
- Learning ZoneXpress. (n.d.). 5 Minute physical activities for elementary students.
Written by: Angelika Keene, UF/IFAS Extension Brevard County FCS/CRD agent, and Hailey Peirce, Intern.