Physical Activity

Importance of Physical Activity

While physical activity is an integral factor in maintaining healthy blood glucose levels, it also decreases muscle strain, improves mental wellbeing and provides some structure to your days indoors during COVID-19. You should aim to ensure that your child gets at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day and that as an adult, you get at least 150 minutes per week (1). Some of the exercises presented on this site may be new for both you and your child. As such, it is important to start lightly and gradually increase the level of exercise intensity and frequency over time. 

Table of Contents

Children Under 16 

Ages 16+

Subheading: Exercises Without Home Gym 

Subheading: Exercises With Home Gym 

Children Under 16 

Depending on your child’s age, the ideas below, adapted from the World Health Organization, offer some fun ways to keep your child physically active indoors (1):

Infants under 1 year old: spread out tummy-time floor-based play throughout the day (Tummy Time Tips)

Children under 5 years old: invent new games with your child that require running, skipping, jumping, dancing, catching, kicking, and/or balance (Exercise Circuit, Dance, Yoga I, Yoga II)

Children ages 5-16 years old: join online activity classes, learn a new exercise-based skill, set up your own playground games and/or workout exercises (Exercise Circuit for Kids I, Exercise Circuit for Kids II, Exercise Circuit for Adolescents , Living Room Workout, Family Cardio Workout). 

Example Exercise (Ages 5-16 years old): Olympic Hot Spot Challenge 

To play, clear some space to set up “hot spot” stations with different 45-60 second activities. Your child can run through the challenge a few times depending on the number of stations, in order to get their recommended 60 minutes of physical activity per day.

Station Ideas: 

  • Pushups (against the wall, on their knees or full pushups) 
  • Situps
  • Jump rope 
  • Step-ups (either with a “step” or up and down the stairs)
  • Circle jumps (small rings or hula hoops or tape marks)
  • Jumping jacks
  • Squats
  • Balance on one leg
  • Ball toss (with a partner)

To Increase Difficulty: 

  • Increase time at each hot spot: so 30, 45, 60 seconds
  • Increase the number of times you do the complete hot spot circuit, so 2, 3, 4 or 5 times
  • Mix-up the hot spots or doing them in a different order
  • Creating new hot spot activities of your own
  • Adding new hot spot props like soup can weights

The Olympic Hot Spot Challenge was adapted from (2). 

Ages 16+ 

Exercises Without Gym Equipment

Create your own home-circuit using the exercises below (3). 

  • Push-ups
  • Planks
  • Bodyweight Squats
  • Lunges
  • High knees
  • Jog in place
  • Jump rope
  • Jumping jacks
  • Vertical jump
  • Stair climbing

Example Exercise Plan 

Try to perform each step three to four times, with a 60 second rest in between (4). 

  1. Bodyweight Squat: 40 seconds and 30 second rest 

Stand with your feet hip-to-shoulder width apart. Create tension through your torso by bracing your core. Descend into your squat until your hips are below your knees. To return to your starting position, drive through your feet, maintaining an upright torso position, exhaling on the way up.

  1. Vertical Jump: 6 reps

Start with your torso at 45 degrees, feet shoulder width apart and with your arms behind you. Explode off the ground by extending through your legs and hips, using your arms to assist you. Reaching as high as you can, then snapping your arms back down to your start position with an exhale. 

  1. Up-Down Push Ups: x 40 seconds and 30 second rest

Start in a plank position with your elbows under your shoulders and feet hip width apart. Replace your right elbow with your right palm, follow with your left until you are in a tall plank position with both hands under your shoulders. Complete the movement by coming back down to both elbows one at a time.

  1. Animal Flow Front Step x 6 per side

Imagine sitting back into a child pose-like position, by walking your hands away from you, hips pushed back into your heels, with your knees 1” above the ground. Explode forward to replace your right hand with your right foot. Finish by bringing your palm up and eyes up. Return to your starting position by reversing the movement and then alternate sides.

  1.  Alternating Lateral Lunges: 40 seconds and 30 second rest

Beginning with your feet together, take a large step to the side with your right foot. Keeping your torso upright, sit your hips back to load your right leg, while keeping your left leg straight. To return to your starting position by pushing off your right foot. Alternate sides.

  1. Lateral Bound: 6 per side

Pushing off one leg at a time, aim to travel a large distance between each step. Imagine pushing side-to-side versus jumping over side to side like a speed skater. Absorb each bound with a bent knee, while maintaining an upright torso. Swing opposite arm to opposite leg for more power.

This routine was adapted from Jennifer Lau and The Toronto Star (4). 

Exercises With Gym Equipment 

If you have access to some of the resources below, you can make your own fitness circuit, join an online class, or watch tutorial videos (6). 

1.    Treadmill: adjust the slope of the track to engage more muscles and increase energy expenditure (Visual Scenery)

2.    Stationary Bicycle: two 15 minute sessions at a comfortable intensity  

3.    Bodyweight Exercises: create a 30 minute fitness circuit with push-ups, sit-ups, deep-lunges, crunches and forward flexes 

4.    Joint Mobility Stretching Exercises: try a yoga or pilates routine (Yoga Workout, Pilates Workout)

5.    Stairs: try going up and down your home stairs a few times to help engage your cardiovascular system

6.    Weights: use small weights, kettlebells, wrist and ankle weights, to engage your muscles. Alternatives to weights can be buckets, filled boxes, or even water bottles.

The above exercises are adapted from the International Diabetes Federation (6).

Example Exercise Plan (6)

1)   Two sets of 15 crunches 

2)   Two sets of 15 forward flexes 

3)   Two sets of 10 rowing exercises using dumbbells and slight forward flexion 

4)   Two sets of 8 push-ups 

5)   Two sets of 8 sitting/standing hand-weight lifts

6)   Five minutes on the treadmill or a stationary bike 

7)   Three sets of 15 squats

8)   Twenty minutes on the treadmill again, or however long you feel comfortable

9)   Stretches and meditation

The above exercises are adapted from the International Diabetes Federation (6).


  1. Be Active during COVID-19 [Internet]. World Health Organization; 2020 [cited 2020 Apr 6]. Available from:
  2. Fun indoor exercises for school-aged kids(5-12 years old) [Internet]. 2012 [cited 2020 Apr 6]. Available from:
  3. Thomas Y. No gym, no problem: Try these simple at home workouts during COVID-19 pandemic [Internet]. WBIR; 2020 [cited 2020 Apr 6]. Available from:
  4. Kwong E. Missing the gym amid COVID-19? Here’s a special at-home cardio workout for Star readers [Internet]. Toronto Star; 2020 [cited 2020 Apr 6]. Available from:
  5. Gifs: evykwong account (need to embed the links on website)
  6. International diabetes federation – home-based exercise [Internet]. [cited 2020 Apr 6]. Available from:

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