Games Index

 

Physical Games & Activities for Groups
Fun, fitness & personal development for groups
through physical movement & exercise

Wilderdom Store
gear, books, kits

Physical Games & Activities for Groups

Well-designed sequences of challenging physical activity can lay important foundations for physical health and well-being.  Physical activity also contributes to psycho-social development.  Or physical activities can simply be used for fun!...more about the benefits of physical activity.

Descriptions of Physical Games & Activities for Groups

Seed->Flower Stretch

Fun physical warmup.  In a circle, everyone starts as a small seed, then slowly sprouts and grows, eventually flowering towards the sun.  Repeat, getting faster each time, leading eventually to seeds in unison jumping into the air and letting out loud "ahhhs"!

Chicken Stretch

A physical warmup activity with humorous twist.  Demo 3 different stretches which, when put together, turns you into a squawking chicken (hen).  Works with any age.

Name Pantomime

Each person chooses an action-word to go with their name (e.g., "Swimming Sam"), then shows the action to the group who repeat it.  Whole-body way to introduce oneself & learn people's names.

Stand on 1 Leg Competition

Ask everyone to stand on one leg.  This is an excellent assessment of ankle strength, balance, and psychological centredness.  Ask who can be the last one left standing?  Consider non-contact (more meditative) or contact versions (e.g., hopping warfare).  Swap legs and try again.

Burning Calories Through Laughter

How many calories does laughter use?  (A: People who laugh are consuming 20% more calories than people who aren't laughing.  10-15 minutes of laughter a day burns approx. 50 more calories a day), or 3 calories a minute.  So, a good chuckle for 20 seconds takes an extra calorie, depending on the laugh's intensity.  Announce to the group a number of calories, then they are to make each other laugh until that number of calories has each been burnt.  Do this a couple of times, but try some different laughter triggers out (e.g., touching buttocks with a partner and shaking hands between legs, asking for someone to tell a joke, etc.).  Encourage laughter to further improve physical conditioning.  More info.

Mirror Image

Involves people in pairs, with one person mirroring the actions of the other.  Stimulates self- and other-awareness.

Giants, Wizards & Elves

Fun chasing game with suspense, laughter and exercise.  Giant (arms up, roars) beats elf (hands to ears); elf beats wizard (waves wand & "kazaam"); wizard zaps giant.

Balloon Activities

Group activities that can be done with balloons.  Promotes gentle, fun physical movement, people getting to know one another, trust and working together.

Wobbly Body

Bodies accumulate all sorts of tensions over the minutes, hours, days and lifetimes.  So, why not try out a wobbly body?  You can do this any way you like - the goal is simply to have an wobbly-as-possible-physical-convulsions-for-as-long-as-possible.  Build up slowly or go fast.  Do this a few times yourself before trying it out with a group.

Differently Abled

We are all different abled, we just haven't fully discovered what we can do.  Any activity becomes a fun physical challenge via a twist such as switching hands, blind-folding, not talking, etc.  e.g., eat lunch blindfolded or brush teeth opposite-handed.

Multi-Way Tug-of-War

Fun, physically demanding, competitive team activity.  Several teams pull against each other, requiring communication and tactics as well as strength to outmanoeuvre and win.

Ropes Challenge Courses

Ropes Challenge Courses are "artificial mountains".  In other words, ropes courses provide engineered structures which are purpose-designed for humans to engage in climbing, balancing, stretching, etc. 

 

Descriptions of Physical Games & Activities for Groups (on other websites)

Physical Activity Overview

What is physical activity?  Why do you need it?  How can you be more physically active?  How many calories can you burn?  A readable overview of the whys and wherefores of physical activity?

Yoga: Sun Salute
(or Surya Namaskar)

The classic yoga "sun salute" can be readily learned and is an excellent all-round strength and conditioning sequence of movements, ideal to do first thing in the morning. At first it is difficult, but after regular practice over several days becomes much easier and a source of joy, peace and confidence.  Initially, just concentrate on the sequence/quality of the movements, then build in the breathing.  By doing it in a group, people can help one another out.  Note, the warrior pose variations in this description can be skipped.

Tag Games

Tag or chasey games have always been popular. They mimic the hunting and be hunted instinct and they involve fun and physical exercise. 15+ tag games described.

Wide Games

Wide games usually involve teams running or least moving and using strategy across a wide playing field or in adventurous locations and usually take some time, e.g., up to many hours or even days.  84 scout-type wide games are described.

Relay Games

Relay games are particularly fun for kids and for developing team work.  Competition can bring out the best effort in people.

Radiant Yoga for all Kids; Aged Preschool to 12 Years

A free e-book which describes and depicts 15 moving poses, 3 meditations, 40 hints for happiness, and 25 essays, plus links, for yoga with kids.

Physical Activity Survey

Lesson plan with materials for students to do a survey of the benefits of physical activity and then compile and analyze the results.

Physical Education Lesson Plans

Well organized site with wide range of 140+ games, lessons, particularly for elementary school, submitted by physical educators

Physical Education Lesson Plan Page

100+ games & activities submitted by physical educators

Physical Education Lesson Plan Links

Go to more physical education lesson plan websites

Games Kids Play

Describes 400+ classic kids games, many of which are physical and many of which could be readily adapted for use in educational and developmental group programs.

 

Introduction to Physical Games & Activities for Groups

Physical movement and exercise is a critical component for health and well-being.  Major dimensions of physical activity include:

  • aerobic/cardiovascular (endurance),

  • anaerobic (speed/strength),

  • flexibility,

  • coordination,

  • health & vitality 

Some key statements about the reasons for, and benefits of physical activity come from a position statement by the International Society of Sport Psychology (1992) ("Physical Activity and Psychological Benefits"),

  • "During the 20th century, human beings have substantially reduced the frequency and intensity of their lifelong physical activity.  This situation has significantly affected individuals and societies." (p. 179)

  • "Studies have shown that the process of exercise brings about both short- and long-term psychological enhancement and  mental well-being.  Physical activity has been found to have a positive causal effect on self-esteem changes in adults.  Aerobic activity can reduce anxiety, depression, tension, and stress, and it can increase vigor and promote clear thinking." (p. 179)

  • "From the clinical perspective, evidence suggests that exercise can beneficially affect hypertension, osteoporosis, adult-onset diabetes, and some psychiatric disorders." (p. 180)

  • "It is estimated that as many as 25% of the population suffers from mild to moderate depression, anxiety, and other emotional disorders.  Some cope with these disorders individually, without professional assistance.  Physical activity in the natural environment can be a promising aid for such people, as physical inactivity may be associated with symptoms of depression." (p. 180)

  • "Studies on depressed patients have revealed that aerobic exercises are as effective as different forms of psychotherapy and that the exercises have had an antidepressant effect on patents with mild to moderate forms of depression.  North et al, applying the meta-analysis technique, found that exercise activity is more beneficial than leisure activity for all varieties of depressive disorders." (p. 180)

  • "Enhanced involvement in physical activity can be beneficial to the well-being of the elderly and can positive affect grade scores of students in primary schools." (p. 180)

  • "Individual psychological benefits of physical activity include: positive changes in self perceptions and well-being, improvement in self-confidence and awareness, positive changes in mood, relief of tension, relief of feelings such as depression and anxiety, influence on premenstrual tension, increased mental well-being,  increased alertness and clear thinking, increased energy and ability to cope with daily activity, increased enjoyment of exercise and social contacts, and development of positive coping strategies." (p. 180)

  • "Rosenfeld et al report that a physical fitness program can moderate feelings of emotional and physical burnout and increase feelings of self-efficiency in the work environment.  Moderate to high-intensity aerobic exercise reduces state anxiety, muscle tension, and blood pressure for 2 to 5 hours after the activity.  For example, the meta-analysis by Petruzzello et al supported the idea that aerobic forms of exercise are associated with reduced anxiety." (p. 180)

  • "On the other hand, low-intensity and short-duration exercise has failed to reduce state anxiety.  Also, Crews and Landers conclude that aerobically fit subjects have a reduced psychosocial stress response, and this is more marked after involvement in exercise on a long-term basis compared to acute bouts of activity.  A positive relationship has been found between level of physical activity and mental health." (pp. 180-181)

  • "The International Society for Sports Psychology (ISSP) recommends all people to participate in free-choice vigorous physical activity on a regular basis.  It is recommended that they engage in more than one activity, challenging both aerobic and anaerobic capacities.  Noncompetitive activities are preferred...The physical activities chosen should be personally pleasing and satisfying, as enjoyment is related to exercise adherence." (p. 181)

  • "In order to benefit from physical activity, deVries has recommended low-intensity exercise as reflected by 30% to 60% of the difference between resting and maximal heart rate values.  Although 20 to 30 minutes of exercise may be sufficient for stress reduction, 60 minutes may result in even more psychological benefit.  It seems that a duration of 20 to 30 minutes at least 3 times per week of 60% to 90% of age estimated HR max could result in desirable psychological benefits.  However, other recreation activities, such as ball games, aquatics, and the like, can be psychologically advantageous as well." (p. 181)

  • "In summary...

    1. Exercise can be associated with reduced state anxiety;

    2. Exercise can be associated with a decreased level of mild to moderate depression;

    3. Long-term exercise is unusually associated with reductions in neuroticism and depression;

    4. Exercise may be an adjunct to the professional treatment of severe depression;

    5. Exercise can result in the reduction of various stress indices;

    6. Exercise can have beneficial emotional effects across all ages and for both sexes." (p. 183)

The Body Affects the Mind...And the Mind Affects the Body

Physical movement and exercise bring a host of physical and psychological benefits, particularly when its aerobic and sustained for 60+ minutes every day or two over a long period (e.g, several weeks or months) (International Society for Sport Psychology, 1992).  Small but unusual acts of physical movement also hold promise for bringing specific benefits.  For example, exercise promotes learning by bringing more blood and oxygen to the brain.  And just as physical movement and exercise have clear impacts on  the mind, so too the mind can have surprising effects on the body.  For example Hendricks and Fadiman (1976, pp. 108-109) describe one of Feldenkrais' (1972) ingenious exercises which demonstrate that:

by practicing unusual movements we send new messages to the nervous system that allow the nervous system to send new messages to the body to release some of the built-in restrictions and allow the body more freedom and mobility.  Along with the new body freedom many subjects report a feeling of psychological loosening.

Here is an example of a Feldenkrais exercise (enormously condensed).  Stand with your right arm extended straight out in front of you at shoulder level.  Look at your hand and turn your arm, head, and eyes together to the right as far as they will go without strain.  Note a point on the wall corresponding to that distance.  Now come to the front position.  Let your arm down.  Relax. Put it up again to the front position.  Move your arm to the right as before but simultaneously move your head to the left.  Move both head and arm as far as you can go without strain.  Do this five times, returning the center position between trials.  Be aware of the feeling in your neck, shoulders, and waist during these five movements.  Put your arm down and relax.  Now once again try the original motion of looking at your hand and moving your arm, head, and eyes to rhe right as far as they can go without strain.  Compare it with the original point on the wall   Come back to center position.  Put your down and relax.  Again put your arm in the front position.  Now move your arm to the right and your and hip (pelvis) to the left, all as far as they can go without strain. Do this five times, returning to the center position between trials.  Again be very ware of all your movement.  Put your arm down and relax. Again try the original movement, moving to the right as far as you can go without strain.  Compare this with the original points.  It is probably that your arm how turns noticeably farther to the right than it did originally.

Now hold your left arm straight out to front, look at your hand and turn your head, trunk, and arm to the left as far as you can without strain and note the point on the wall.  Come back to the front.  Put your arm down.  Relax.  Put it up again in the front position.  Now only in imagination repeat the movement made for right arm, three times each; that is, imagine your arm going left, and head going right, three times.  Then imagine your arm going left and your head and hips going right three times.  While you do this concentrate on the  muscle feelings.  After the imagined movement open your eyes, and your arm down and relax.  Now put your left out in front as before, looking at your hand, and move arm, trunk , and head to the left and  note the different in the points on the wall.  There will probably be about as large an increment as with the right side, although it was all done without movement.

Recent work on the Involuntary Nervous System proves an explanation for this ideational part of this exercise and for the body/mind view generally.  Miller (1969) says:

Cellular electric current can be made to occur in protoplasm by the very act of thinking.  Thought alone can therefore, in and of itself, be the stimulus to induce an electric current to flow down any nerve to the affected tissue - demonstrating that thought is a source of energy...The Involuntary Nervous System is not necessarily involuntary...it is more under conscious control than previously believed. (Italics in original.)

References

Feldenkrais, M., (1972). Awareness through movement. New York: Harper & Row.

Hendricks, G, & Fadiman, J. (Eds). (1976). Transpersonal education: A curriculum for feeling and being. New York: Prentice-Hall.

International Society of Sport Psychology (1992). Physical activity and psychological benefits: International Society of Sport Psychology Position Statement. The Physician and Sportsmedicine, 20(10), 179-184.

Miller, H. B. (1969). Emotions and  malignancy (hypnosis-psychiatry and organic tissue changes). Paper presented at American Society of Clinical Hypnosis Convention, San Francisco.

Last updated:
04 Feb 2006