Hesperian Health Guides

Ideas for Making Exercises Fun

Exercises can quickly become boring, and the child will not want to do them. So turn them into games whenever possible.

boy holding up to fingers
a good ROM exercise for fingers
boy lying on his back lifting his foot up to ring a bell tied up while adult observes
Just a bit more and you can ring the bell!

One good way is to involve the children in games with other children. Try to think of ways to adapt games so that they help to stretch the joints and exercise the muscles that most need it.

Child sitting and kicking a ball to the child on the ground so he can push
A boy with cerebral palsy rolls a ball so that a girl with juvenile arthritis can kick it. This helps her to straighten her knees, and to strengthen the muscles that straighten them.

In the picture below, children play ball to help María, a girl with juvenile arthritis, stretch her stiff joints and muscles.

disabled children playing with a ball

Can you see how the 2 children on the left are helping Maria with ‘range-of-motion’ exercises?

Which of Maria’s joints are they exercising?


The children form a triangle, so that to catch the ball Maria has to twist her body to one side, and to throw it she has to twist to the other side. This helps loosen her stiff back and neck. Also, sometimes they throw the ball high so that she has to lift her head and raise her arms high to catch it.

This way María exercises her neck, back, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hands, and fingers. And the play helps her forget the pain of movement—pain that often makes range-of-motion exercises seem like punishment. But this way she has fun.

This page was updated:27 May 2020