If you’ve ever experienced sticker shock trying to register your child for youth football or ballet lessons, this guide is for you. Getting your kids active and fit doesn’t have to break the bank. In fact, there are hundreds of activities you can do for little to no money.
Read below for some resources with additional information on getting your kids active on a budget. Then check out our summary of suggestions at the end of this page.
Learning The Basics
- Keeping the Kids Active: This article discusses some broad areas you might look into when trying to find a way to keep your kids active within your budget limits.
- Budget-Friendly Activity Tips: Sometimes all it takes is thinking differently about being active. This article helps you focus on ideas that provide bonding time and explains how to create a routine.
- Tips for Kids’ Active Lifestyle on Budget: Here’s another general overview of places to look for inexpensive active hobbies for the kids. Ideas include contacting your local recreation department.
- Outdoor Activities on Zero Budget: Breaking it down by season, this article goes over some ways to get the kids active without spending any money at all.
- 8 Nighttime Family Activities on a Budget: Maybe you only have nighttime after work to make sure the kids are getting active. This article has a few suggestions for energy-burning nighttime activities.
- Fun Summertime Activities on a Budget: The tip to start a children’s co-op is an especially good read. A co-op is a good alternative to expensive summer camps.
- Fun Family Fitness Ideas: Make fitness a game, and the kids will be more likely to stick with it. This article has great ideas to keep everyone interested, including a weekly family fitness night.
- Indoor and Outdoor Activities: Sponsored by the Australian Institute of Sport, this website has great tips for indoor, outdoor and pool activities, most of which have little to no cost.
- Active Outdoor Games: Here are detailed rules for outdoor games like British Bulldog, Red Light, Green Light, and a variety of takes on the traditional game of tag.
In Person and Online Programs
- Adventure to Fitness: This whole website is dedicated to children’s exercise videos. Try the 7-day trial for free or get unlimited streaming for only $10/month. Unlike other programs, you don’t have to pay per child.
- CrossFit Kids: You’ve probably heard of the popular fitness program CrossFit, but did you know they also offer a kids version? View videos of the variety of moves here for free.
- Get Sweaty: This is an awesome website that allows kids to earn points and win prizes for completing workouts. And it’s free!
- YMCA: The YMCA has been an excellent option to get kids active for decades. Make sure to look into family discounts or price cuts through your health insurance plan.
Free Educational Resources
- Fitness Quiz: Complete this free Parenting magazine quiz to evaluate how active your family is. It includes a few links for additional support, too.
- Exercise and Fitness for Kids: Here are a whole bunch of articles on topics like youth sports, protein shakes for kids, getting your teen to exercise and more.
- AAP Recommendations: This free guide from the American Academy of Pediatrics helps you determine nutrition and exercise needs from pregnancy to 18 years old.
- Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans: The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services produced this list of guidelines. Most of the activities are free or inexpensive, like brisk walking, tag, jumping rope, swinging on playgrounds and more.
- Strength Training for Kids: A more academic approach, this article tells you why, how and when to get your kids started on strength training.
- Where are the Active Kids?: Read more on the breakdown of age-appropriate activities. The earlier you start an active lifestyle, the more likely your children will stick with it.
- How Should Children Exercise: You’ll find great tips here on how to disguise exercise as fun games, like sprinting to specified point or climbing trees.
Free Apps, Printouts and Videos
- Free Apps to Motivate Child Exercise: Combine your kid’s love for technology with the encouragement they need to stay active and fit. These 4 apps are completely free.
- More Apps Especially for Kids: These free apps focus both on getting your kids active and helping them make smarter food choices.
- Fitness Goal Tracking Sheets: These free printable tracking sheets from Nourish Interactive can be hung on the fridge to give your kids a fun and colorful form of motivation.
- Activities and Worksheets: This Kids.gov compilation includes free printouts, lesson plans and a list of children’s book about exercise, fitness and nutrition.
- Animal Acrobats: Watch this mom of 4 get her kids involved in simple yoga poses named after animals. This is just one of many examples of Animal Acrobats you can find online or in your community.
Additional Tips On Getting Your Kids Active
Studies show that getting kids active at a young age sets them up for a lifetime of healthy choices. It can also help burn off excess energy to help kids concentrate better and sleep more soundly. It’s even better if you can get involved, too. Modeling an active lifestyle is one of the most effective ways to get kids started, and you’ll be doing yourself a favor by improving your own fitness.
Now that you’ve read a little about the wide variety of resources to help you get your kids (and hopefully yourself) more active without spending a lot of money, let’s summarize some of the key points.
Know the Goals: Most fitness organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, recommend that children get at least 60 minutes of exercise per day. This may sound like an awful lot, but that’s really been colored by our modern lifestyle. Just imagine how much kids helped on farms and even in industrial areas before the invention of machines like combines and automobiles. Daily living required a lot of physical labor. Compared to the past, we’re all significantly more sedentary, so one hour a day is a perfectly reasonable goal. At the very least, aim to get the kids active at least 3 days a week.
Make it Fun: This could be different for each child if you have more than one. Either split the time between your kids’ favorite activities or spend one-on-one time with them if you can. The goal is to make fitness fun so the kids will stick with it. Adults know how boring running on a treadmill can be. Just imagine what boring, uninteresting exercise is like for fun-seeking kids! Get creative!
How to Save Money: Don’t feel you have to spend a lot of money to have fun. Kids can have a great time doing a wide variety of activities, and your community probably offers more low-cost options than you think. Find a wide open space at a local park for games of tag or “capture the flag.” Swing on the monkey bars on your neighborhood playground. Go hiking or walk around a nearby lake. Even taking an evening stroll after dinner can get some family fitness time in.
If you want something more structured, look into family discounts at your local YMCA or sports programs sponsored through your city or township.
- Budget Resource Guides
- Fax: Everything on online fax. Are you on a budget? You can save money with computer faxing instead of a using fax machine. Recommended Companies: RingCentral & Nextiva. Other useful guides: How-to Email Fax, How-to Fax Online, and How-to Get a Fax Number.
- Payroll: Everything you need to know about payroll. On a budget? These are 6 different ways you can get payroll software for free for your business and here is a guide on Purchasing Payroll Software. Recommended Companies: Intuit Payroll & QuickBooks.
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