Games for Cardiorespiratory Endurance

Primary School Children Chasing Each Other in a School Playground

In this age of multimedia entertainment such as video games, 3-D films and smartphone apps, it can be a challenge to motivate young people to exercise. The best way to get kids -- and even many young adults -- to get up and get moving is to make exercise fun. You can play a variety of games that get the participants’ blood flowing and their heart rates up to build their cardiovascular strength.

Target Heart Rate

To build cardiorespiratory endurance, you need to get the participants’ heart rates into a specific target zone. To calculate an individual’s target zone, subtract his age from 220 to determine a maximum heart rate, or MHR. Subtract the individual’s resting heart rate, or RHR, from the MHR to determine his heart rate reserve, or HRR. Determine the individual’s target zone by multiplying the HRR times 0.6 and by 0.8. Add the RHR to each number. The resulting numbers represent the low and high ends, respectively, of the individual’s target heart rate zone. For example, for a 10-year-old with an RHR of 80, the MHR is 220 - 10 = 210, while the HRR is 210 - 80 = 130. The target heart rate zone would then range from 155 [(130 x 0.6) + 80] to 184 [(130 x 0.8) + 80].

Ultimate Frisbee

Ultimate Frisbee is a combination of Frisbee and football, except no contact is allowed between players. Play the game on a rectangular surface, such as a gym or half a football field. The game begins with one team tossing the Frisbee from one end of the field to the other, where the opposing team takes possession. The player with the Frisbee must pass to a teammate within five seconds, which keeps the game moving quickly. Players may take no more than two steps after receiving the Frisbee. The possession ends when a team throws an incomplete pass, or when a player scores by receiving the Frisbee over the opponent’s goal line.

Cigarette Chain

This game for younger children has the dual purpose of keeping the kids in constant motion -- thereby increasing their cardiorespiratory endurance -- and teaching a lesson about smoking cigarettes. Choose up to three players, depending on the size of the group, and make them the “smokers.” Have the smokers hold hands to form a chain. The smokers then try to tag the other players. A player who’s tagged joins the chain. As the chain increases, it’s harder for the smokers to run down other players, demonstrating how smoking decreases your physical abilities.

Hoop Warm-Up

The hoop warm-up is another good activity for children because the game can be varied each time you play. Spread some hoops out in an enclosed area, then have the kids remain in motion while they follow your directions. For example, you can have everyone move around the hoops, then hop from one hoop to another, then place a hand on as many hoops as possible within a given time. You can have individual or team competitions, incorporate a ball into the game or invent any other rule you wish that keeps the participants interested, and moving, for as long as possible.