Body Smiles

Singularly Stellar Body Health

‘Take a break from scrolling’ | Health Beat

‘Take a break from scrolling’ | Health Beat
If you want your little ones to embrace fitness, the best thing you can do is be fit—because they learn by example. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

Feeling cooped up while you work at home and need something to do with the family? Or feeling stuck indoors as the weather begins to cool?

Busy schedules and unpredictable weather can make it difficult to get outside and stay active.

But it’s important for children and adolescents to try to get 60 minutes or more of exercise each day, starting at 30 minutes and building from there.

With winter at your doorstep, what are some things you can do at home with limited equipment and space?

Lucie Silver, exercise physiologist with the Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital Health Optimization Services team, has some fun ideas to share. And most require little to no equipment or setup.

“You can break up exercise throughout the day and still see benefits,” Silver said. “If you do 10 minutes of activity at three separate times in a day, you’re already halfway to your goal.”

Silver says taking a break from the screen and getting outdoors will refresh your mood. But there are many indoor activities to try, too.

Here are six activities to try as a family that will get your heart pumping.

Laundry basket game

You just need a laundry basket and some laundry, such as folded socks for this one. You could also use toys, stuffed animals or different types of sports balls.

“Basically, you fill the basket with items and then dump them out and spread them out on the floor,” Silver said. “Spread them out and join your toddler in cleaning them up.”

You can take different approaches, such as jumping, running, skipping, hopping on one foot or crawling to each item. You can also make it a race. Once the items are all cleaned up, try again.

“Toddlers that enjoy this game will want to do it over and over again,” Silver said. “So continue to encourage the activity. It also benefits fine and gross motor skills and teaches little ones to pick up after themselves.”

Pro tip: With older kids, have them shoot the item into the basket or box from far away and go get it afterward. This helps with aiming and targeting skills.

Obstacle course

Using household items, create an obstacle course with your child that will get them moving, jumping and rolling. Lay out a blanket to roll over, push two chairs together to climb under, or lay down a broom to jump over.

Pro tip: Use painter’s tape as a guide with arrows and directions. You can be creative with this to make it more fun—rearrange it and enjoy time together while moving.

Scavenger hunt

Hide some items around your home and give clues to your child to go find them. You can have them find the item in different ways (hop on one foot, hop on two feet, run, walk backwards, etc.) and you can hide multiple items to keep them busy.

Pro tip: Take turns. Allow your child to hide something and participate. Be present while playing the game with them.

“Children love playing with their parents and being active if they see mom or dad being active too,” Silver said. “Modeling good behavior—like eating healthy and being active—can go a long way.”


Don’t have weights? Use water bottles or milk jugs filled with water or sand to make kettlebells or weights.

Find a fun weight-training video on YouTube and work on strengthening those muscles.

“Lifting weights is another activity where kids will definitely follow your lead,” Silver said. “Take some time and show them how adults work out and let them join in on the fun.”

Dance party

Turn on some music and dance as a family. Try some old music from back in the day and show your kids the moves you used to make on the dance floor.

Take turns picking a song and trying different ways to move. Do this for 15 to 20 minutes.

Pro tip: Play freeze dance. When the music stops, freeze, or complete another task, such as jumping jacks, squats or running in place.

“Your kids are guaranteed to love this one,” Silver said.

Embrace the outdoors

Living in Michigan, you might sometimes spend time fighting the weather. Chilly temps can put a damper on outdoor activities.

But look for the opportunities to get outdoors as much as possible. If it’s chilly, bundle up and enjoy a family walk in the park, or a stroll around the neighborhood.

“The main goal of all of this is to try to take breaks from sitting, get up and get moving as a family,” Silver said.

She tells her patients to take dance breaks from homework and play fun active games, such as charades or the Wii.

“You can survive winter by being creative and working together as a family,” she said. “And parents can really help by participating. Take a break from scrolling and get moving.”