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4 fun gym class activities to get kids to enjoy exercising

Author: James Anderson
Published: Apr 2 2013

Dodgeball, capture the flag, and kickball are common gym class activities that physical education teachers have been having kids participate in for years. There is nothing inherently wrong with any of these games, but their competitive nature causes many kids to not want to partake in them. Gym class has a notorious reputation for being the reason kids play sick or even hide out in the locker room to avoid being forced to participate, but it doesn’t have to be so disheartening. Teachers should offer more activity options to satisfy different personality types; some kids thrive on competition and love any game where they have a chance of winning and outshining their peers, but other kids automatically lose interest because it’s just not in their nature to want to defeat anybody. For any PE teachers out there, or for any parent trying to get their kids to enjoy exercising, here are a few creative ideas to help get kids happily up and moving.

Offer a Yoga Session

In addition to being physically strengthening, yoga is also meant to be therapeutic, and learning how to peacefully relax the mind is a great skill to for kids to learn at a young age. Yoga is great for more timid, mild-mannered students as there is nothing to win or lose; it’s a purely individual based exercise, and offering a yoga class would be a great way to allow kids to set some of their own physical goals instead of contrasting and comparing how they measure up to other kids. Beginning yoga is relatively easy to practice but still manages to be effective in stretching the muscles and burning calories, and offering a yoga session once a week might be an effective way to help kids have something healthy to look forward to.

Add a Physical Challenge to the Mirror Game

Playing the "mirror" game was always very popular for kids, and there’s no reason why it can’t be altered to be a little more physically challenging than just simply mirroring hand gestures and facial expressions. The basis of this activity involves two kids partnering up with one being the leader and the other being the mirror; the mirror will try to reflect everything the leader does, and after a certain amount of time they switch. To make it more of a work out, kids can use jump ropes to get them moving at a faster pace than what’s typical of the exercise. It can be great for kids who tend to shy away from physical activities because it’s an entertaining game where two kids work with each other, not against each other.

Try out a Dance Routine

For kids whose minds work a bit more creatively, dancing can be a great incentive to get them to willingly want to exercise, and sometimes breaking up the normal routine can be helpful in capturing kids’ attention. Many schools across the country have started offering dance classes, and according to an article by The New York Times, more than 1500 schools plan on implementing the use of the video game Dance Dance Revolution in hopes in getting kids excited about physical activity again. Kids love video games, and even the ones who aren’t generally the type to get revved up about exercising don’t seem to mind breaking a sweat for the popular arcade sensation. Even if a school can’t afford to purchase Dance Dance Revolution for their students, an instructor-led dance routine can be just as fun for them, and seeing their teacher put on some upbeat music and lead the class with some silly dance moves can help kids loosen up and let go of some of their own insecurity.

A Change of Scenery

As winter comes to an end and the weather starts brightening up, getting kids outside to exercise could be one of best ways to get them interested in moving around. One idea that kids always seem to love is walking around the outside track. For it to be fun and motivating, the students should walk around the track for the entirety of the gym class. The teacher should hand out a straw for every time a student passes by, and by the end of the game, the straws can accumulate into points the students can use to get a healthy snack or some other small prize. Kids tend to love this game for several reasons: they get to be outside, they get to socialize as they’re exercising, and they get something for their efforts at the end of it.

With childhood obesity on the rise, it’s more important than ever to make physical activity something kids look forward to instead of it being just a requirement. To really engage all children, it would help to look at some more creative angles, and although there is nothing wrong with a little friendly competition, traditional PE activities have been putting kids off for years. That’s not to say that dodgeball or kickball should be completely ruled out, but balancing out those classes with ones that focus on more collaborative or personal exercises can help all kids grow up with the mindset that working out can be fun, not discouraging.

James Anderson is a freelance writer, survivalist, and sports enthusiast born and raised in West Virginia. He currently writes about fitness, sports, and kids lockers for

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