Getting Kids Active When They Can't Go Outside

Getting Kids Active When They Can’t Go Outside

4 June 2022 • Words by Nanette Botha 3 mins

As parents, caregivers and teachers, we are all well aware of the importance of physical activity for our children. Not only does it play a significant role in having a healthy lifestyle and developing motor skills;  Borland, et al. (2022) mentions that physical activity positively affects a child’s emotional wellbeing, their behavior and their mental health. It is therefore necessary for our kids to be active and we know that!

If you are lucky enough to live in an area where outdoor activities, spending time outside and playing and exploring are freely accessible, make use of it as often as you can. However, for many families the reality is living in densely populated cities, residing in high-rise buildings and not having access to safe outdoor spaces where children can play and explore. Regardless, children still need a fair amount of physical activity to help them keep healthy and regulated.

Here are a few activities that will help your kids to be active even when going outside is not an option:

Make an indoor obstacle course

This does not have to be elaborate or take a lot of time. For my own kids, an obstacle course is always a favorite activity! Think outside the box and use chairs to crawl through or climb over, a bench can turn into a balance beam,  a bed for a somersault and a pile of pillows to jump into. You might want to have your children practice completing the course a few times and then you can even add a competitive element if your kids enjoy that. Time them to see how long they take to complete the course and let them try and beat their own time. And if you feel that you have had enough of setting up obstacle courses, challenge the kids to come up with one for you to do with them.


This is great to get the kids moving around and burn off some energy. Have them make up their own dance routines. See who can dance the fastest, slowest or work out the silliest moves.

Pillowcase race

Have you ever thought of having a sack race using old pillowcases? The kids will love it and they don’t get to do this type of activity every day! It requires some practice to figure out how to move forward so it might be a good idea to do this in a carpeted area.

Target throwing

Draw a target on a piece of cardboard and stick it up on the wall. Take turns throwing a ball of socks at the target and see who gets the closest.


Gather some plastic bottles or jars and pack them out in a triangular shape (as you would for ten-pin bowling). Now take turns rolling or throwing a ball of socks at the “pins” and see how many each child can get. You can make this activity easier or more challenging by putting water in the bottles to give it some weight.

When you look at these activities it might seem that it is too much trouble to go to. However, if our kids cannot spend time playing outside, we need to find alternative games and exercises to promote their physical and emotional wellbeing. It will take a few minutes out of your day, but try and plan these games in a way that you can really be part of it. It shouldn’t become a task that our children need to complete, it should be a positive, enjoyable experience. Often the most valuable thing for our kids is when a parent can join in the activities and this is the perfect opportunity to do so. Have fun!

Borland, R. L., Cameron, L. A., Tonge, B. J., & Gray, K. M. (2022). Effects of physical activity on behaviour and emotional problems, mental health and psychosocial well-being in children and adolescents with intellectual disability: A systematic review. Journal of applied research in intellectual disabilities : JARID, 35(2), 399–420.

Nanette Botha

Educational specialist & mother of 3 young children Co-founder: AIMS Global & Leadership at: Augmental