7 Healthy Kid Activities to Encourage Lifelong Habits

Family biking on a trail

As we begin Every Kid Healthy Week, which raises awareness of the important benefits of sound nutrition, physical activity, mental health and learning for kids, we want to share some healthy activity ideas you can do to help your kids learn and thrive.

Grow and Nurture Healthy Habits

At a young age, children develop the habits and behaviors that influence their lifelong health. Healthy habits positively impact children’s behavior, memory, focus and emotional well-being, providing them a solid foundation as they grow toward adulthood.

Parents, as their child’s initial teachers, can offer guidance and model behaviors to educate their kids on how to make healthy choices that lead to healthier lives. Doing so means your family will be healthier plus enjoy the added bonuses of building meaningful relationships and memories – a win-win situation!

Here are some healthy activities for you and your family to enjoy during Every Kid Healthy Week and beyond.

Family Activities to Inspire Healthy Living

  • Make time to play. Both structured and unstructured play are essential components of kids’ physical, cognitive and social-emotional development. Adults also benefit from play as it helps release endorphins which reduce stress and help us to relax.

Playing with others helps build relationships through interaction. It teaches respect, trust, tolerance and how to navigate group dynamics—including collaboration, compromise, and conflict resolution. Playing develops a sense of belonging, boosts confidence to take risks and try new things, explore creativity and problem solve. It builds social skills, initiates movement, and fosters creativity and imagination, which encourages experiences from different perspectives.

Your family can play together through exploring your local parks, bike and hiking/walking trails, outdoor tennis or volleyball courts, or baseball and football fields.
Spend an afternoon at the local playground or parks.
Play a few rounds of miniature or chip and putt golf or venture to the batting cages.
Walk or bike to school together if schedules allow.
Incite imagination with role play or use creativity when transitioning from one activity to the next.
Act out a favorite story or movie or better yet, have your child come up with their own.
Pretend you are on safari using the dining room table and some blankets as your tent and seeing favorite stuffed animals in their natural habitat.
Read stories together with unique voice characterizations for dialogue throughout.  
Play a game of charades.
Take an after-dinner walk in your neighborhood.
Dance your way through household chores to upbeat music.

  • Have kids choose a healthy snack to make together. The key is simplicity with younger kids through pre-K age; older kids can manage more sophisticated recipes with parental supervision.

This helps kids develop planning and decision-making skills, offers an activity that includes the entire family and results in a healthy, nutritious snack for all to enjoy.

Some ideas include:

Baked tortilla chips with salsa or bean dip
Graham crackers with nut butter
Yogurt topped with blueberries and almonds
Apple slices or banana with peanut butter
Frozen grapes or bananas
Low-salt turkey slice wrapped around baby carrots, bell pepper or cucumber slices
Low-fat cheese and fruit kabobs on popsicle sticks
Pita bread and cucumber slices with hummus
Fruit slices with low-fat Greek yogurt dip
Use cookie cutters to create mini sandwiches featuring low-salt turkey, low-fat cheeses, nut butters, fruit slices or juice-sweetened fruit spreads.
Create custom trail mix using whole-grain breakfast cereals, nuts, seeds, pretzels, popcorn, dried fruits, and mini chocolate or peanut butter baking chips.
Make air-popped popcorn flavored with chipotle powder, lemon pepper, or pumpkin pie spice; or try fancier combos like freshly grated parmesan and chopped rosemary or chili powder and the zest and lime juice.
Baked apple chips (use a mandolin to thinly slice apples, place slices on parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 200 degrees F for 2 hours.)

  • Volunteer in your community. Studies indicate kids who grow up helping others develop empathy and gain a sense of self-satisfaction, meaningfulness and happiness.

There are many ways to include your kids in family volunteer efforts, including:

Choosing and helping to deliver food donations to your community food bank or shelter.
Downsizing toys and stuffed animals and donating them to your local hospital or thrift store.
Participating in a food or clothing drive to help other families in your community.
Make cards to send to senior centers.
Draw pictures and write thank you notes for police and fire personnel, doctors and nurses, teachers and veteran auxiliaries to show appreciation.
Do a good deed for an elderly or disabled neighbor like tidying their yard or garden, running errands, doing chores or delivering a handpicked bouquet from your garden or a nourishing, homemade meal.

  • Set family fitness goals. Kids raised in health-minded homes have greater chance of avoiding serious health issues like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. You’re not only building muscle and strength, but you are also building established health habits that your children continue, eventually teaching them to their own children.

Some illnesses like asthma and macular degeneration result from childhood exposure to parental smoking. Other issues resulting from alcohol consumption during pregnancy or pre-pregnancy drug use by either parent can increase risks of birth defects and lifelong disabilities.

Make fitness a family affair through the following ideas:

Post individual family member’s goals on your family’s refrigerator and cheer each other on. Award non-food related rewards to those achieving their goal.
Use pedometers or health trackers and apps to see who makes the most steps within a week.
Train as a family for a community “fun run” or 5K event.
Go to a park offering a fitness course for a mini family-based Olympic event.
Create a backyard physical fitness challenge featuring different activities.
Have family fitness time that includes planks, jumping jacks, push-ups, jumping rope and lifting small hand weights to some inspirational music to entice everyone’s enthusiasm.

  • Get outside and grow your own garden. The great outdoors has been proven to be a source of relaxation, natural vitamin D and a great way to alleviate stress.

Outdoor gardening offers multifaceted benefits to kids:  they learn science, gain patience and responsibility, and understand the importance of eating fresh fruits and veggies at mealtimes.

Kids can prepare a garden plot or a patio-based grouping of clay pots, plant seeds or small plants, maintain and care for them and enjoy the satisfaction of seeing plants grow and harvesting the fruits of their labors. Some high-yield, easy-to-grow options include parsley, basil, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, bush beans, onions, carrots and radishes.

You can then spotlight your family’s bountiful harvests in snacks, mealtime entrées or side dishes.

  • Plan and cook nutritious family meals together. Eating together at home not only costs less than eating out but also instills healthy eating habits.

You also get the added perk of quality family time, especially if kids are involved in menu planning, grocery shopping and preparing recipe ingredients or cooking meals. Cooking with kids is a great opportunity to teach them measurements, conversions and cooking skills, plus it gives them vested interests in the finished products.

Eating together also causes us to slow down and become more aware of what we eat. It takes approximately 20 minutes for the brain to register fullness after eating. Talking to your family about their days’ activities helps everyone avoid overeating. Plus, you can model nutritious eating habits for your kids to follow.

Some ways to boost healthy eating:

Write a grocery list based on your weekly meal plans and stick to it.
Avoid being hungry when grocery shopping to eliminate impulse food purchases.
Make half your plate fruits and veggies.
Focus on eating whole fruits.
Rotate a rainbow of vegetables in your dinner repertoire.
Eat whole grain pastas, cereals, breads plus brown rice and quinoa.
Rotate low-fat protein options like turkey, chicken, fish and lean cuts of pork and beef trimmed of fat – add plant-based proteins like beans. 
Make grab-and-go foods like whole fruit and whole-grain cereal bars for breakfast easily accessible.
Pack healthy lunch options for family members heading to work and school.
Offer water, low-fat (1%) or fat-free milk, or 100% fruit juice and eliminate juice drinks, sports drinks or soda.
Learn and know your children’s individual nutrition requirements to make sure they get the nutrients they need.

  • Limit screen and technology time. More studies are proving that too much technology, social media and screen time combine to inhibit imagination and creativity, incite depression, decrease socialization skills and create feelings of isolation in both children and adults.

Get kids to ditch the screens (computers, tablets, phones, and TVs) and use that time to hang out, get moving and recharge together as a family.

Parents should try to limit sedentary screen time to 2 hours (or less if possible) daily and implement rules the entire family follows, like no video games or computers except for homework assignments during school nights or a 2-hour TV limit on weekends.

Challenge your entire family to skip screen time for a designated time period. Have screen-free weekends, Saturdays or nights to encourage interaction while enjoying healthy activities that instill sound lifelong eating and fitness habits and cherished family memories.

Your Capital Women’s Care team is here for you and your family should you have any questions about incorporating lifelong healthy nutrition and fitness habits into your family’s lives.

Our Mission

The providers of Capital Women's Care seek the highest quality medical and ethical standard in an environment that nurtures the spirit of caring for every woman.


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