Ideas to get your kids moving to improve their physical and mental health

During the COVID-19 pandemic, kids spent less time socializing and participating in physical activities and more time in front of electronic devices. As a result, they experienced new physical and mental health challenges. 

Data from Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in 2021 showed that “more than a third (37%) of high school students reported they experienced poor mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic, and 44% reported they persistently felt sad or hopeless” that year.

Getting youth offline and outdoors

According to JAMA Pediatrics, only one in four children meets daily recommendations for physical activity of 60 minutes or more. “This has worsened because children are even less active, missing out on daily activities and group sports, and increasing screen time” due to the pandemic, JAMA says. Additionally, The Child Mind Institute reports that the average American child only spends four to seven minutes per day playing outside and more than seven hours a day in front of a screen.

As a parent, getting kids away from their screens and outdoors can be challenging, especially if your child developed increased social or academic connectivity habits through their electronics during the pandemic. Finding athletic hobbies that are fun, different, and social for kids is one way to garner their interest in physical activity. 

Here are a few unique activities to get your child offline and outdoors:

Mountain Biking

After your child has mastered riding a bike in the neighborhood, it might be time to take off their training wheels with a new challenge like mountain biking. Mountain biking can be social either in a family or group setting and can teach kids to make decisions regarding safety. Just make sure to gather the protective gear needed including a proper helmet, gloves, glasses, knee pads, and grip shoes to avoid injuries.


Pickleball is America’s fastest-growing sport and has been picked up by more than half a million people since 2020, according to NBC News. So, why the rise in popularity in recent years? Pickleball is a sport that can be played by almost anyone, even kids, and is perceived to be less intensive than tennis. In fact, National Geographic says pickleball was created in 1965 by a group of kids who were bored. Not only can pickleball be played with the entire family with an at-home pickleball set, but there are junior leagues that offer pickleball for kids under the age of 18.

Aerial and Circus Arts

If your child is struggling with mental health, it may be time to take their activities to new heights—with aerial and circus arts. An Australian study discussed in Science Daily says that for every dollar spent on a child’s circus training could potentially save seven dollars for future mental health costs. Another study published in the National Library of Medicine states that not only does physical health improve, but evidence shows that children who participate in aerial and circus activities build resilience, perseverance, self esteem, social and connection skills, emotion management, teamwork, and problem-solving abilities. The study additionally reports that emotional regulation increased where negative behaviors decreased. Aerial and circus studios like ESA Aerial Arts in South Bend, Indiana offer youth classes for ages five to 16 on apparatuses like aerial silks, trapeze, and lyra, but aerial gyms can be found throughout the country.


If your child enjoys water-related activities like swimming or boating, kayaking could be a good activity to get them active and outside. Kayaking can help your child stay fit, develop coordination and self-confidence, and learn about wildlife while being in nature. Ages seven to 10 are ideal ages for young people to start kayaking, although you should never let your child kayak alone.

Ultimate Frisbee

Looking for something “ultimate” for your kids to do? How about ultimate frisbee? USA Ultimate’s Learn to Play program works with local sports organizations to offer kits, clinics, and competitive leagues for kids ages seven to 15. Ultimate frisbee is also a sport that you can learn to play with your kids, as it’s relatively easy to be taught and safe since it is a no-contact sport. 

About Beyond Outdoors Marketing

Beyond Outdoors Marketing’s mission is to inspire communities to get offline and outside through educational initiatives. We help brands align with the right audience for their outdoor-related product or service. If you would like to learn more about how we connect outdoor-related brands with B2B and B2C audiences, contact us!