Healthy Games For Life

by Chris Chapan

We know children need to learn about health and fitness. These games will encourage children to get off the computer and into activity. The games are divided into three categories: healthy lifestyles, nutrition and games that encourage activity.

  • Activity Tag


  1. Activity Cards highlight activities like jumping jacks, sit-ups, push-ups, and other basic calisthenics.
  2. Number cards from 1-10 to add to the tasks students complete. (You can use a deck of cards if the jacks, queens, jokers, aces, and kings are removed.)

Designate an "it" and give that person a stack of activity cards and the numbered cards. When they tag someone they give the tagged person an activity card and a number card. The person tagged is to perform the activity the number of times specified on the card. Once a child finishes the task, they may enter the game again.

You can designate a safety zone with a time limit so children can rest and be safe.

  • Dental Health Relay


  1. Toothbrush
  2. Toothpaste
  3. Cup
  4. Water
  5. Towel
  6. Mouth rinse
  7. Dental floss

Students form two equal lines. On the signal, the first student runs to the supply box, gets a toothbrush, and lays it on the picture of the teeth. Then he tags the next student. That student goes to the box and gets the toothpaste and the event continues in the same way with all tooth items. The team that gets all the supplies first wins the event!

  • Healthy Bone Relay


  1. Plastic eggs or Hard-boiled eggs
  2. Two large spoons
  3. Rubber band

Divide students into two teams. Each team is given an egg, a large spoon, and a rubber band. On the signal, the first person on each team will take the rubber band and wrap it around the egg. Then, they will walk their egg to the other end of the field and hand it to their teammate. The relay continues until all the students have taken their egg on a ride. If a team breaks their egg, they will continue the race without an egg.

  • Risk Factor Game

Discuss the risk factors for heart disease with the children. Scatter children around the room and have them respond to commands in the appointed ways:

  1. High Blood Pressure: Jump as high as possible.
  2. Smoking: Cough as they walk.
  3. Stress: Move frantically in the circle.
  4. Obesity: Walk very slowly.
  5. Inactivity: Sit or lie without moving.
  6. Heart Attack: Perform three or more of the risk factors.
  7. Wellness: Briskly walk around the area.

  • Healthy Lifestyle Game

Discuss ways children can keep themselves healthy. Make a list of healthy habits. Line children at one end of the play area. Each time a child performs one of the healthy habits on the list, they get to take a step forward. For each unhealthy habit or omission of healthy habits, they take one-step back.

  • Good Nutrition Relay Race


  1. Pictures or plastic models of foods from the food pyramid
  2. Masking Tape

Take masking tape and make a diagram of the pyramid. Discuss the food pyramid and explain what types of food go into each category. Divide children into two teams. Children in each team take a turn picking a food picture and placing it in the correct area of the pyramid before returning to tag the next person in line. Have someone stand by the pyramid and help students who are having trouble with identifying food.

  • Food Pyramid Relay


  1. Plastic or pictures of food
  2. Three trays

Students form two equal lines. On the signal, the first student in each line walks with their lunch tray to the circle of plastic foods. They choose a food from the Food Guide Pyramid. After choosing a food and placing it on the tray, they hand the tray to the next student.

The event continues in this way until the team has a food from each group represented on their tray. If a student drops a food, that food must be picked up and put back on the tray. The first team to compile the balanced meal sits down. Then they will explain the food groups they have chosen and how they built a balanced meal.

  • Musical Hoops


  1. CD player
  2. Music
  3. Index cards with exercises on them and a pair of dice

Scatter hoops around the gym with index fitness cards inside the hoops. Students move freely from one hoop to another and when the music stops, each student goes to a hoop and reads the fitness card. One student rolls the dice. The addition of the two numbers from the dice indicates how many times the students must perform the activity listed on the fitness card. Two sixes indicate the students must perform twelve of that particular activity. Fitness cards can include jumping jacks, crunches, mountain climbers, sit-ups, push-ups, running in place, skipping in place, and free choice.

  • UNO Fitness


  1. Deck of UNO Playing Cards

Each student receives an UNO card. They are to perform an activity based on the card.

  1. Red Cards = push ups
  2. Yellow Cards = mountain climbers
  3. Blue Cards = curl ups
  4. Green Cards=bell jumps/lateral jumps),
  5. Skip Card = skip one lap around the gym
  6. Reverse Card = jog/walk one lap backward around gym
  7. Draw two Cards = draw two cards from the regular UNO deck and perform the activities corresponds to the card color and number of the card
  8. Wild Draw 4 Card = draw four cards from the UNO deck and do all four activities.

So get off the couch and into fitness. Before you know it, you will forget about moving and just focus on the fun.

Workouts That Work
September 11, 2001