Child play areas encourage physical activity

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Play areas can provide fun opportunities for children's exercise

Many parents want to liberate their kids from the hypnotizing effect of constant video games, but they struggle to design child play areas that encourage physical activity. Making exercise enjoyable naturally draws kids in; portraying it as a duty or chore may turn them off. Here are some easy ways to create child play areas that will provide opportunities for fun.

Creating Child Play Areas that Encourage Physical Activity

You can create child play areas both by shopping toy retailers and using items you already have on hand. You should also try to encourage physical activity throughout the seasons by implementing weather-appropriate activities and providing stimulating outdoor toys.

For instance, sports such as soccer and volleyball work well from spring through fall, while water activities are more appropriate during the summer and perhaps warm afternoons in late spring or early fall. Snow games can encourage outside activity if you live in a region that receives a considerable snowfall during the fall and winter.

Specific Child Play Areas

Try these specific ideas to create one or more child play areas that encourage physical activity:

  • Sports court: Install a tetherball in the ground or make a movable pole. If you're installing a permanent pole, consider also devoting the surrounding ground to a variety of other sports. If you have the money and area, you can put up a volleyball net, bring in a basketball hoop, or set up a backyard baseball diamond. You could also provide a tub of small items, such as balls and gloves, Frisbees, and jump ropes that could be used on the open plot of ground.

  • Obstacle course: You can create an obstacle course from a multitude of items around your house. It doesn't have to be a fancy project that takes half a day to construct. Chairs, sleeping bags, ladders, hula hoops, empty boxes, and ropes can all find their way into your obstacle course. On rainy days, you can create small obstacle courses in your living or family room. During nice weather, you can set up a bigger version outdoors. If you want to put a little more money into your child play areas, you might consider items buying items like a zip line or trampoline.

  • Backyard games and contests: Have a sandbox your child has outgrown? Bury some metal items in the sand and get a child-sized metal detector. You can also create a scavenger hunt. You can hide the items yourself or make a list of nature items your child may find outdoors. If several children will be involved, you can turn these games into contests. Or use other activities or toys for kids to create individual or team contests (Jumping rope, races, and relays are a few examples.)

  • Backyard water park: Create a mini water park with a slippy slide. A slippy slide should work either on flat ground or down hills. You can buy plastic slides that you moisten with a stream from your hose or even a small bit of liquid soap. Children run and jump onto the slide on their tummies or backsides.

The Importance of Physical Activity

If you're not aware of the importance of exercise, review what experts say about the positive effects of regular physical activity. The benefits in most areas apply to both children and adults. Exercise can improve not only physical health, but also mental, emotional, and all other aspects of personal well-being.

Do you know what else the experts say? Most of them agree that a key part of encouraging physical activity in your children is to set a good example. Play games with them, model a regular exercise habit, and show them ways to have fun with physical activity, and they will be more likely to form healthy habits in childhood that will last into adulthood.


Mayo Clinic Staff, "Exercise: 7 Benefits of Regular Physical Activity,"

Sarah Henry, "Kid Fitness: When Your Child Won't Exercise," WebMD

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