November 2021 Newsletter – Opportunities for Active Play: Types of Active Play

Types of Active Play

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, physical activity is defined as:

Any bodily movement produced by the contraction of skeletal muscle that increases energy expenditure above a basal level.

But did you know that not all activity is the same?  There are different levels of activity intensity:

  • Light-intensity activity includes leisurely strolls and light housekeeping.
  • Moderate-intensity activity includes brisk walks and yardwork.
  • Vigorous-intensity activity includes jogging or shoveling heavy snow.

In addition to different levels of activity, there are also different types of activities that should be included in daily activities. These types of activities include:

  • Aerobic activities – sustained large muscle movement that raises the heart rate. Walking, running, swimming, and biking are common examples of aerobic activity.
  • Muscle-strengthening activities – repeated movement of muscles moving against a source of resistance. Resistance can be provided by weights, elastic bands, or body weight. Squats, lunges, and push-ups are examples of this type of activity.
  • Bone-strengthening activities – movements that create a force or impact on the bones. Climbing stairs, dancing, and hiking are examples of exercises that promote bone strength.
  • Balance activities – movements that strengthen muscles responsible for keeping us upright. Yoga, standing on one foot, and using a balance beam help us improve balance to prevent falls.
  • Flexibility activities – movements that increase the range of motion in our joints help improve flexibility. Stretching and yoga are great exercises for building flexibility.

There are some activities that fall into multiple categories of activity. For example, walking would be considered an aerobic and bone-strengthening activity and if you add ankle weights to your walk, you will also be strengthening your muscles, too.

These types of activities are important for people of all ages. The Department of Health and Human Services reports:

Physical activity also has brain health benefits for school-aged children, including improved cognition and reduced symptoms of depression. Evidence indicates that both acute bouts and regular moderate-to-vigorous physical activity improve the cognitive functions of memory, executive function, processing speed, attention, and academic performance for these children. 

The remaining sections of the newsletter will provide examples of how educators can incorporate these types of activities into the daily routine.

Adapted from Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd Edition.


For the main article Opportunities for Active Play, CLICK HERE

For the article Active Play Ideas for Toddlers and Preschoolers, CLICK HERE

For the article Active Play Ideas for School-Age Children, CLICK HERE

For the article Active Play with Staff Members, CLICK HERE