The rise of professional sports has led many to the misconception that the best way to get exercise while having fun is to play an organized sport. But there are literally hundreds of outdoor games that are so active and exciting that players don’t realize what an incredible workout they are getting. And don’t assume that these games are only for kids – they can be much more fun for teens and adults.
Many have heard of dodge-ball, where players try to pummel each other with a firm Nerf ball (or a rolled up pair of socks) across two sides of a yard, but there are many variations of this game that can make for many hours of activity. For example, play freeze-tag, where one person is it, and tries to touch the other players. Instead of having to touch them, however, have the person who is “it” throw a ball at the other players. This can be less frustrating for the person who is it, and gives the other players more challenge. When a player is hit, they are stuck until another player touches them free. This variation works best with 4 to 6 players. With larger numbers, consider having more than one person be “it” at a time.
Another dodge-ball variation: line up two players at a time and give each player a ball. At the shout of “Go!” have the two duel. Any limb that gets hit becomes useless. If a player gets hit anywhere in the torso, that player loses the duel, and the next in line challenges the champion. Players end up hopping and rolling around the yard, sometimes throwing with their non-dominant hand. A dueler may only touch their own ball during the game. If there are more than a few players waiting in line, you may want to have players go up in teams of two or three at a time.
In all dodge-ball games, make sure all players know that hitting the head or face never qualifies as a hit. That rule tends to protect eyes, ears, and noses.
If you want some chaos, try three-way tag. This is played with only three players. Player 1 chases player 2, player 2 chases player 3, and player 3 chases player 1. To make it a little more interesting, try 4 players. With 4 players, player 1 and 3 can stick together while player 2 and 4 team up to protect each other. Once everyone has established in their minds who is after who, this game is a riot. It works well, and only occasionally leads to a big train of people running in circles around the house.
The secret to all outdoor games is to really get into them while you are playing. Play as if your life depends on it, and by the time the game is through, you’ll have run miles without even realizing it.