11 December 2007

Kids' exercise ball good for fun and fitness

FirstFitness Exercise BallOf all the toys we've tested this year, the one that gets the most consistent and varied play is a kid-sized exercise ball from First Fitness. Not only is it good fun to roll around the basement, it encourages both of my kids to bounce, stretch and move...all welcome when we're stuck inside. Bouncing is more than just good fun; it can be extremely calming for kids who have a hard time sitting still. In fact, many adults use exercise balls instead of desk chairs for this very reason. I imagine this 18-inch ball would be a ideal for a fidgety homeworker at a low desk.

I will admit that the first time I saw First Fitness products -- exercise equipment for kids -- I found the prospect of mini-treadmills and mini-exercise bikes depressing. Since when do we have to compel our kids to move? Why teach kids exercise is something to do rather than something to love? Other First Fitness products are ill-conceived, such as the exercise stretch band -- seems a safety hazard given the obvious slingshot potential.

But the fitness ball and the play parachute are good, multi-purpose products that kids can use any number of ways. We're certainly having a good time around here.

Win it! I've got an exercise ball to send to one of you -- just answer the following question in the comments. I eagerly await your ideas -- we tend to get pretty stir crazy during winter break.

How do you keep your kids active indoors?

I'll pick a winner at 5pm tomorrow, 12/12. Good luck!


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2 words: DANCE PARTY!!! as long as mama's digging it, the littles will dance with me.

My daughter has been known to run circles in the house, do gymnastics and karate moves, and even (not that we want her to!) play ball in the house. Fortunately, she's also content to curl up with me and a book!

She's recently learned to do pushups thanks to karate, and all the parents joked that that was a good way to tire the kids out when they couldn't go outside!

We either play real games, like Hullaballoo or Mommy's dance game (aka Dance, Dance Revolution) or else we suspend all the house rules and play some crazy made up game of tag/pillow fight/jumping on the beds/pirate/wizard thing that my kids have made up and named the Glippity Glop game (for no special reason that I can figure out.) The exercise ball looks fun!

Since my daughter is only 2 and a half, the entire inside of our house is still one big playground to her. Things I do to wear her out indoors:

- Play "follow-the-leader" around the living room - we go in a big circle around the living room, and the leader has to pick an animal (cow, owl, dog, etc) to pretend to be, and make noises and walk like the animal. The others follow suit twice around the room, and then swap places (with a new animal).

- Dump out an almost full toy-box. when the novelty of the toys wears off, do a clean up activity (e.g. pretend to be robots [complete with sound effects] picking up toys and putting them back in the box) - the constant squatting and standing is more of a workout than many exercise classes I've seen!

- Turn off the TV, turn on some upbeat music, and DANCE! My daughter does a great John Travolta (Saturday Night Fever) impression.

- Do an actual indoor workout. When I get down on the floor and do stretches, push-ups, sit-ups, squats, etc, my daughter immediately wants to follow suit. She'll keep it up as long as I do, as long as I keep varying what I'm doing. Plus, as an added benefit, I get in 20-30 minutes of exercise out of it!

We have a GIANT beanbag from JCPenney's (seriously, huge - the entire family can sit on it together with no lap children), and the kids absolutely adore jumping from the couch onto it. It takes careful supervision to keep them sharing nicely, and it worries their father sick - but oh boy, what a blast!

It is kind of adult intensive, but we will set up an obstacle course that runs throughout the house. This usually involves shimmying under and over bets, a chair let tunnel, and lots of hopping on one foot, and a balance "beam". If we are feeling particularly adventurous, we will blow up a bunch of balloons and make a balloon tunnel under the dining table.

We have an old overstuffed chair that I let the kids pull the cushions off of and jump on - they also like to jump from the chair itself on to the cushions. But I think they get the BEST workout but doing laps (we have a kitchen/living room/dining room loop), usually with each of them pushing a dolly in a baby stroller. They could do that all night.

We blow up balloons, then try to keep them out of the "mud" or whatever other dangers my 4 yo comes up with.

We do lots of dancing to CDs and DVDs. My son loves to wiggle and dance along to Sandra Boyton songs, the Wiggles, Sesame Street and lots of others. We also bought him the new Smart Cycle from Fisher Price that makes him pedal the bike to play video games. He loves this. And when all else fails the entire family likes to get some exercise with our Wii that helps us all bond and work up a sweat - really it does!

Since he's only 4 months old right now, not much! But as he gets older, we'll do Dance Dance Revolution and chase games. But this ball looks great for laying him on and letting him practice balance (of course, I'll hold him!)

I keep my older kid active indoors by letting him exercise when I do. He loves playing follow the leader, and it entertains my 7 month old to watch us, too!

My kids tend to take care of themselves. They'll run circles around the living room/dining room/hallway loop, jumping off the stairs to the sunken living room. They're pretty happy climbing on their beds (we have a cool Kura bed from Ikea, which promotes climbing either way it's set up) and jumping on their beds. And if I get cranky about that, I set up the GoGoTV interactive computer game (http://www.amazon.com/GoGo-Video-Vision-Main-Console/dp/B00083HI9A) that I got on sale a couple of summers ago. That's good for at least 20 minutes of jumping up and down as they try to kick the balloons on the screen. We're also getting a Wii this Christmas -- that should also be good for some exercise.

We have a daybed/trundle combination. I pull the trundle bed out, leave it low to the ground next to the daybed, pile some pillows all around, and presto! instant indoor tot gym! He'll climb on the daybed and jump off onto the trundle, jump up and down on the trundle, and do lots of random tumbling. When he needs a break, it's also a good spot for cuddling and reading books.

One caveat: this is a good solution for a two-year old. I wouldn't recommend it for an older kid, so we'll have to find a better alternative once he's big enough to destroy the mattresses by jumping up and down.

We're also big fans of the dance party (Dan Zanes, anyone?).

Like other commenters, we do dance parties, Hullabaloo, and laps around the house... but they also love hopping on our elliptical trainer!

We capitalize on my toddler daughter's love of putting things in boxes and baskets by putting a laundry basket or similar receptical as far away from the room (through three interconnected rooms, really) as we can. Then we choose a theme, like animal toys or cars or blocks, and have her take them one at a time, run to the basket, toss them in, then run back for another one. Helps her work on sorting, keeps her moving, and often has her rediscovering toys she had previously forgotten about or otherwise moved on from.

Hullaballoo! Fun for the whole family. Also, it didn't take long to figure out that they sit and stare slackjawed at Dora and Diego, no matter how much she urges them to "Climb!" or "Paddle!" or whatever. So I get in there and do it with them.

My little man is active ANYWHERE! So usually the problem is me keeping up with him! LOL! We do loveto play hide and go seek on cold or rainy days!

One thing we do is set up a large tower of indoor blocks and have our son run at them full force from the other side of the room to knock them down...then we quick set them up again.

We set up an obstacle course when my 3 year old needs to burn off energy in doors. Over chairs, under the table, 5 rocks on the rocking horse, jump over the pillow really wears him out after a few times through!

My kids are still toddlers, which makes it easy. We play "chase", but actually they run and I walk after them. Then we also have lots of different balls that we throw around, kick around and bounce. My husband is good at this one.

We'll also do exercise. I'll do some easy moves from one of my workout videos, and the the kiddos will try and do them. My 3 year old is a hoot attempting step aerobics.

My son's only 16 months old, so "real" games don't really interest him yet. But we'll play the "chair game", where we chase each other around the recliner and then jump out and surprise each other. It's a good mix of hide-and-seek, tag, and peek-a-boo, and always has him rolling on the floor laughing.

we do a whole lot of dancing and jumping in the crib. and we climb and crawl a bunch through the pop up tunnels we got at the thrift store. she's almost two and I think she has almost as much fun as me!

An old mattress on the floor makes a great "trampoline". Add music, and we have "bouncy dancing".

We play monster: someone, usually me, is the monster and chases and growls after everyone else. We mixed it up with the monster sniffing for them and other stuff. My girls can play for almost an hour at a time.

we set up an indoor maze (couch tunnels, run around chairs, under tables, and such)

My eldest is in physical therapy and his therapist is having us get him to crawl as much as possible. His little brother loves to join him in crawling up the stairs from one end of the house to the other. It burns a lot of energy and strengthens his weak arm.

We play "roll the truck" down our long hallway--I sit with my 11-month-old in my lap at one end, and my 2-1/2 year old stands at the other end. I roll his dump truck down the hall to him, and he races it back down to me, then runs back down the hall, and the cycle is repeated. Both boys have a great time.

Another good one is "Red Light, Green Light," where G runs around either the island loop or the living room/kitchen loop, and has to stop when I say "red light" and go when I say "Green light." Endless delight.

Both of these games are good for when the parental batteries have worn down but the young ones are still going strong, LOL.

Turn on the radio and dance. Both the the three year old and the two year old love it. Momma is always the first one to get tired, though.

we use the parachute a lot to build forts. Play-doh is always a big hit along w/dress up clothes, arts and crafts are always fun!! Also add music and dancing to our list for raining and cold days. =)

Our house is laid out so that there's a big circle the kids can run around. The adults count the kids' laps, or we play chase, or hide and go seek. Another fun one is turning in circles while someone else counts, until they fall down.

Oh and we also have a rock wall in our bedroom for rock climbing. When we are in there, we take turns.

My son just had his FIRST birthday party. I asked all the parents to bring their exercise balls if they had'em. The babies played their own version of dodge ball. HILARIOUS!!

Ha. This is neat. My 5 month old likes to bounce on my grown-up exercise ball, but I've had a few incidents (broken pictures) with older kids throwing my ball around the living room. We could put the kid one in the playroom and make mine off-limits. I'd use the smaller one to do wheel-barrow with my daughter. Other than that, I'd say she mostly exercises Mommy! Older kids play a lot of Wii Sports and DDR around here.

In 2005, my Mom got us two Plasmacars (http://plasmacar.com) and our indoor play hasn't been the same since. The boys have races, they chase each other, they take turns towing laundry baskets to the laundry room for me. When they get tired of that, they go into our room and bounce on the beds.

Oh gosh, I'd love to say that my kids do yoga with me or something... but in all reality, we just get crazy. Usually it's a game of Hide-Go-Seek or Duck-Duck-Goose, sometimes it's a game where I'm a monster and I have to catch the screaming, running, hiding 3 year old. I love that I get worn out just as much as she does... it reminds me that mom could use a lil exercise from time to time too. Actually, I do use my balance ball a lot (I work my abs) and my daughter tries to play along with one of our big couch pillows. How cool would it be if she could actually have her own ball instead of a floppy pillow? haha!

We do the dance party quite often, too... as well as games that require motion (Cranium's Hullabullu, etc.). We also have "marching band concerts" with their instruments, as well as build forts or jungle gyms with couch cushions and pillows. :0)

I LOVE Hullaballoo -- it's a great combination of Twister and Simon Says. It's active, but the kids have to listen to the instructions, so that's a great game if you're stuck indoors.

My kids love hallway bowling (especially fun if they get to eat Pringles, decorate the cans, and use those for pins), and will also take turns pushing each other around in a large plastic bin or laundry basket. The older ones will do that and slam into tall piles of cardboard blocks (such boys).

If the kids are out of control and I need to chill them out, I bundle them each off to the bath with a huge bunch of tub toys. They come out sweet-smelling and calmer, and if I have to mop up the bathroom a bit, so be it!

Put on some ska music and jump! We often have a dance party after dinner and before bedtime.

Jumping on the bed is my daughter's preferred indoor exercise activity. All safety rules are thrown aside. We need a better (and safer!) alternative!!

As dangerous as it is...we play soccer in our great room with a soft soccer ball. Oh yes, something I'll no doubt regret when he is big enough to kick with force.

Baby Crash! We toss our child up in the air into a pile of down pillows on top of our bed. He laughs, giggles, turns over, then says and signs "more!" He loves Baby Crash. It does sound a little tragic, but we've been doing this since before our now 22 month old could walk. Granted, if you're not careful and you have some small twin cot deal - you could toss your child over the bed and onto the floor (something for Carlos Mencia to sing "der der der!"), but we have a huge Cal-King and I build it up on the other side with pillows. He loves the "air time" and the falling into pillows! It's fun for both of us!

We keep our four year old busy dancing to music on the computer, playing with the dogs, jumping on his trampoline (small one) in his bedroom, and helping with chores like sweeping and letting the dogs out. He often has his own ideas like climbing on his bed or our couch ;-)

We also dance, but my sons favorite is to imitate animals. I yell out an animal and he has to imitate its movements...bunny (hop), frog (leap from all 4s), snake (slink on the ground)...on and on. He gets a great work out from this game and loves it.

Fun, keep it moving DVDs, indoor games

In the recent days of very early nightfall my husband came up with a game that my 2 year old loves. He has recently become very interested in pretend play and his Nana recently had pizza delivered to their house. So, my husband invented a game of pizza delivery for those nights when everyone but the 2 yr old is exhausted. We can sit on the floor and play with the baby while our toddler does laps on his tractor (non-motorized) around our house "delivering" pizzas. He has to go around twice - once to deliver the "pizzas" and once to collect the empty boxes. He loves it, gets his exercise and the rest of us can collapse for a while. Otherwise our favorite rainy day activities are hide and seek, chase or just cleaning the house - he's a great mopper!

Keeping the girls active on these cold wintery days has given me some creative ways to keep both a 3 year old and an 8 year old busy....

We open the sliding glass door blinds fully and I let them draw with dry erase markers as much as they want. The best thing about this is that it wipes off with a paper towel and they can start over again! The 3 yr old gets the lower half so it works great and this usually lasts over an hour!

We also take hula hoops and have "hoop" time where we all give it our best shot at keeping the hula hoop going. As long as you have some room in the house this works great. We've also used the hoop for jumping in and out of, running around and just make a game of it all.

We're also big on creative crafty stuff. Sometimes we will scavenge the house for items (anything small that is not important goes here). Examples: pieces of kitty food dropped on the floor, lint from the dryer, dryer sheets, feather remnants from kitty toys, buttons, fuzz, etc. We then take a piece of construction paper and color it with crayons/markers and then I let them glue on all their treasures.

Fun! Fun! Fun!

My 2 year old loves to "exercise" to music like he sees Mommy do at StrollerFit. We turn on some music with a strong beat, then we march, jump, do jumping jacks, and dance like we would do during a warm-up for StrollerFit class. He loves mimicking me and I love that I am providing a good role model for him as he cheers me on at StrollerFit. I'm hoping this will help my sons develop a life-long love of exercise as part of their daily routines.

We have scooters that we keep indoors that the kids love! They have two wheels inteh back and one in the front and are made for younger kids. They have had them since they were two and use them EVERY day!

We turn off the TV and wrestle. They love to be "thrown" onto the couch and "dropped" on their heads. They'll giggle the whole time.

My son is only 17 months so we don't have an issue yet, but we do a lot of running around - mommy's going to get you and tickle you, family parades with the pull toys, and run around saying aaaahhhh.

Course we're also in severe drought, so there really hasn't been any 'being stuck inside'.

1. We catch them doing something inappropriate in the living room and say, "If you want to do that, do it downstairs!" We have a Sit 'n' Spin, a crawl-through tube, several soft balls for throwing, and a foam mattress & air mattress for jumping on. We put on loud music and let them go at it!

2. I do chores they can help me with. I hand them small brooms or water-filled spray-bottles and turn my back. ;-) They drag and carry laundry baskets too. Sometimes I put on loud music for cleaning up toys, and we all throw them into bins.

3. The favorite game is "Squish Mama!" They take a running start and jump on me. They also squish Papa, who is a better jungle-gym than I am.

Dancing! My daughter is all over putting the dance music on and boogeying down! Hold the baby, and we're good for 30 minutes!

I cleared out the laundry/storage area of our basement and we now keep all the ride-on toys down there. A couple of times a day, we go down for "roller derby". Between my 11 month old in her walker and my 3 year old in her car or trike, us adults have to watch our toes, but it's great for a change of scenery and a little action for a cooped-up winter day.

We dance, run around pushing mini strollers and pulling wagons, or toss around beach balls. We also have a lightweight plastic bowling set, thoguh it doesn't require lots of energy, it is a fun activity that is a little different.

We have a dance party with great music that you just can't sit still to, have a pillow fight or play tag. My husband and kids like to wrestle. My personal favorite is yoga for kids.

Boohbah videos, a PBS series, encourage movement instead of sitting. They have a website to compliment the videos.

We also love to dance to the Putamayo Kids CD series.

Dance, dance, dance!

We've got a great front room and set up in our house that allows for one large obstacle course. Of course it's not too hard right now as my boys are little, but I can just imagine them going up and over the couch and such when they get a bit older.

We also play tag, hide and seek and many other games that use the space.

We'll we have three kids. Without any prompting from me and, on occasion, despite my warnings, the three of them seem plenty able to keep active. Even when I try to quiet them down by bribing with TV, they are all up and dancing and singing along.

We have one of those fold out futon/couches from IKEA where the folded out couch sits on the floor. We use it for s trampoline when my daughter needs to burn off energy. It also doubles as a gymnastics mat. her favorite use is to fold it out halfway to make a "car" then she runs in and out of the hole packing it. Who knew this would be such goos exercise when we bought it pre-child?

We play chase in the house and get out the pot lids, put on music and have a parade.

My 14 year old and 5 year old dance a lot showing off different moves and choreographing each other. And then, of course, there's the belly laughter.

Music with dancing. Oh, or chasing the dogs :)

We brought in my sons bike from outside and put it into our unfinished basement and put signs on the wall (Stop, go, turn left) to make it a 'city'. He loves it.

we used to jump rope in our living room as kids...though it does take a higher ceiling and a bit of extra space!

I'd love to think I had something to do with it but Roo keeps herself pretty active, indoors or out. Her most energetic indoor activity is dancing. For some reason, she incorporates laps around a round table with the dance moves. She's done it since she was a baby, it's pretty hilarious. She actually poked a hole in my exercise ball, so it would be nice for her to have her own.

We have a "loop" around the downstairs. The rule is that you have to all run in the same direction to prevent crashes, but we all get into it. Sometimes we spice it up, put on some slippery socks and slide on the hardwood floors. Part of our loop is carpeted, the other is hardwood, so we get a chance to build up speed before we let loose and slide on the wood floors. Burns off tons of energy and is a great cardio workout.

We have 'cushion time' where we take the cushions off the couches and play 'Froggy' or 'The Eiffel Tower' or any other game we can think of. :)

I can't keep my son off my exercise ball, this would be perfect! We stay busy active indoors by dancing, playing hopscotch, using the slide, and just doing household work. But I am also a firm believe that if it is not a low wind chill we head outside for a little while each day. We snowmobile, sled, and just walking in the snow is enough to get their hearts going!

As we live in the north, we have found ways to keep active. Our basement is around 100 feet long. We have a small basketball goal down there, roller blades, batting tee and other goodies like that where we can play until we drop.

My 13 month old son loves to play with my exercise ball so this would be great.

He loves it when I chase him around the house - and we both get some exercise!

I'm lucky enough to have a good-sized finished basement, so we play basketball down there, as well as practice tumbling, cartwheels, etc. We also take an idea from daycare and play FreezeDance. DS loves it and it burns some of the extra energy!

hide and seek :) its more like hide, run, and seek in my house

Hi, The Wii helps because many of its' game require moving! Also, boys love to play with their cars and trucks, thus they move around a lot then. Also, they need to climb stair to their rooms and go down stairs to the family room! Thanks,Cindi

WE set up an obsticle course with a tunnel and ball pit. We race through the tunnel and then into the ball pit! We also like to put on music and dance around!

We jump rope in the garage with some tunes on! What a great workout!

We have On Demand and there is a special feature for kids excercise class. It is very low impact and my kids love to do the fun moves. Hullabaloo is a great game to play too!

I don't seem to have to do anything to get my daughter to be active indoors. If she's been sitting for a while she wants to move and does so. She'll start dancing, singing, doing cheers, flipping, bouncing (until we catch her on the bed/furniture :) ) and even running laps around the couches. The only time she'll typically be still for a while is during story time or for part of a movie/tv show. Even while watching something she keeps moving, though.

She enjoys Wii Boxing with me and sometimes likes Tennis and Baseball (just pitching, not batting). That helps for when I want to be active with her indoors, but not running/jumping/etc myself. I like some of the above suggestions and will need to give some of them a try.

My kids love to play Stairball. The 7 year old throws some beach balls up the stairs to the 4 year old, who then throws them back down. They often miss the ball and have to chase it. They also love Railingball, which is when they roll tennis or other small balls down the railing. And they have to go up and down the stairs a lot. It is always a lot of fun, and their friends like to play it too.

I have kids at very active stages, so when we're inside a lot, I find myself having to burn energy with them fast. We do all those standard things like Dance Parties (thank you itunes and our computer-based jukebox), games of chase (our house is a long one-story), follow-the-leader and what have you.

Another game I play is with the almost-two-year old. She is so squirmy that she fights diaper changes and clothing changes. My solution is the game I'm Going to Get You. I grab the clothing/diaper and say I'm Going to Get You and chase her from one end of the house to the other end. When we get there, we have an unspoken agreement that I will be able to do one thing to her (change her diaper or remove/add one piece of clothing). We race from one end of the house to the other until everything is completed.

My girls both take a lot of dance classes so we at the studio a lot! At home they love to practice dances & acrobats, so that really helps out. Plus they get daily gym homework, it isn't required, but if you do it at the end of the year you get a pizza party. It has really simple things like jumping jacks in every room, toss a sock ball, pretend jump rope, etc. I haven't tried it yet, but I have heard good things about those dance mats/dance party, etc as well! Hope to win, my kids are always trying to take my ball, didn't know they made them for little ones :)

We play with the Little Tikes basketball set, throw balls/blocks in a bucket, turn on the music and dance, play in a hut and tunnel, and whatever other toys are around to keep our child occupied.

Sometimes we do get stir-crazy so we'll go out in the garage and find activities to do there.

Have a good week!

I cleared out the coffee table in the living room for the winter, it gives much more room to move and was just there to collect junk anyways. ;)

For little ones, bring in the plastic baby pool and get lots of plastic colorful balls...making an indoor ball pit. :) (Set of 100 balls sells for about $20 @ tru.)

Dancing! The two-year-old's favorite for this is our Putomayo Kids sampler CD. He also likes to play "keep away" with a balloon when Daddy comes home. Thanks for the giveaways!

We play lots of Simon (mommy) Says. Now that we have a garage, I may start letting the kids chalk, play rice table and even ride trikes in there, too.

We make tents with blankets, then throw all the pillows off the couch and do jumping exercises!!!

We have two floors of our home that are like a track... you can run in a big circle if you want. My husband and I actually enjoy playing "chase" with our kids... running after them around the track. When they get tired of that, we also have carpet skates... those flat plastic sleds that attach to your feet with velcro... those are great fun!

We have a small trampoline that Rachel likes to bounce on, and we've been known to set up obstacle courses through-out the house that include climbing over couches, jumping to the trampoline. She hasn't tried sledding down the stairs in a laundry hamper yet, a la comedian John Heffron, but that may come.

While I am making dinner I turn on the music and let my kids jump on my bed. They go nuts and love it. This ball would save my poor bed!!!! (I have 4 active kiddos!!!)

I will put together a scavanger hunt.

My toddler is one, so she'll stay active by chasing the cats anywhere they go. Free entertainment! They are just curious enough about her to sashay around her legs, and then the chase is on! She also loves to dance. We turn on the radio and shake it. It's always a lot of fun to act silly and get our hearts pumping at the same time.

My trick is to keep my kids involved in mind stimulating activities. Arts and crafts, and science projects etc... For some reason, this makes them less likely to plop in front of the TV later. And more likely to do physical activity. Someone needs to do a study here!

An obstacle course, dance Cds, we filled his summer pool with balls for a ball pit, brought the slide inside, and make a makeshift net between two chairs and play volleyball=)

We love to set up obstacle courses in the family room.

We do a lot of running through the house (we have an open floor plan). And simple exercises. And tickle attacks.

5pm PST deadline I hope!

board games, card games, puzzles, coloring books

We build fanciful tunnels and crawl through them. Harder than it looks.

We set up obstacle courses, and time each other. They often have so much fun that they want to do it over and over again, just to beat their time!

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