Oh, to be a kid again. To be outside playing jumping jacks, scaling the monkey bars, or staying immersed in a game of tag. But, wait — this is the 21st century. Kids these days are not running around at the park, flying kites, or riding their bicycles down to the local YMCA. No, kids these days are a little more plugged in than normal. According to usatoday.com, 80 percent of children under 5 use the internet on a daily basis. You could be thinking, “Well, at least they might be learning something.” Well, the next statistic shows that kids between 2 and 11 watch around thirty hours of television a week — probably not the least bit educational. However, these statistics, along with the simple fact that it is good for them, is enough reason to encourage kids to get out and get exercising. Here are some wonderful and fun activities that are bound to get children energized and excited about exercise. Grab the little ones next to you and get ready to make some moves!
Exercises for Kids
Super-hero Workout: These exercises can be as simple as going outside and doing toe-touches or jumping jacks. The point is that you will get kids excited about moving. Show children that they are mimic movements of superheroes so that they can become super-heroes themselves. You can name them the “Superman” or the “Spiderman”, depending on what the child’s favorite super-hero is. Kids tend to be more focused and interested in something if they are able to relate it to something that they enjoy, and this is a great way to do that!
Playground Olympics: A fun way to get kids energized at the park is to set up a Playground Olympics. This can also be done in your backyard or in your home as well. Create different exercises or an obstacle for kids to go through. For instance, have them: go across the monkey bars, swing on the swings for 10 swings, climb through all the tunnels, and go down the slide twice. This will help kids have a goal in mind and a plan when they are going through their activity — and it will definitely get their hearts pumping as well! At the end, you can even distribute medals. If there are a few kids, do not focus on first, second, or third place. Instead, focus on the fact that they completed the obstacle.
Yoga for Kids: If you thought that kids did not have enough patience to do yoga, you thought wrong.Yoga is a great activity for both adults and children alike. Yoga will help calm kids down while strengthening their balance, coordination, and agility skills. Think of it as a safer exercise to do than balancing on a balance beam. Yoga can also be fun for kids and educational as well. For instance, have kids do the “lion” pose. In a lion pose, kids sit on their heels with their hands on their thighs, inhale, and roar while sticking their tongues out. They hold the pose for a few seconds with their tongues out. This pose will help them strengthen their breathing skills by working their diaphragm while stretching their quads and ankles at the same time. By sticking their tongues out, kids will release tension in their facial muscles. This exercise is not just for kids — adults can reap the same benefits as well!
Hoop Dancing: Hula hooping is a fun, inexpensive, and easy way to get a child’s heart pumping and their circulation going after they have been stationary for awhile. Hula hooping will help children with their coordination and rhythm while strengthening their hips as well. Additionally, simply keeping the hula hoop in position while you are moving shows persistence! Make sure that you get a hula hoop that is a suitable size for a child. Feel free to get in on the activity as well and do it alongside the little ones.
Exercise Card Games: If you are not sure which exercise to do with a child, try out some different ones and incorporate it into a game at the same time. Write down some simple exercises on some flash cards, and on the opposite side, draw a picture that represents that exercise. Choose activities that can be done inside or outside depending on your preference for that day. Have kids take turns choosing flashcards, flipping them over, and performing the activity or exercise.
Balloon Exercises: Everyone loves balloons, and it is easy to feel like it is your birthday every time you have one in your possession. Give one balloon on a string to each child and have them challenge themselves to do certain exercises and stretches while holding onto their balloon and keeping it afloat. Additionally, you can play water balloon targets with balloons as well — just make sure that it is a hot day and that no one is afraid to get wet!
Why Kids Need Exercise
This may seem like a no-brainer, but sometimes it is good to remind yourself that just because kids are young and not working forty hours a week does not mean that they do not need exercise to keep themselves healthy and strong. Exercise is highly beneficial for young bodies, as it will:
- Develop muscle strength: to reduce a child’s chances for injury now and in the future.
- Keep their bones strong: because milk is not always enough!
- Decrease body fat: there are a high number of obese children in the United States today, and daily exercise is a good way to prevent obesity.
- Enhance self-esteem: as for anyone, when your strength increases, so does your mental well-being. You begin to feel better about yourself and more capable overall.
- Control mood swings: kids take in a lot of sugar, and their energy levels often vary in high degree. Exercise is a great way to keep their energy grounded and controlled.
Move Those Little Legs!
So the next time you see a child reach for an iPad or a bag of sour skittles, use the above exercises to take them on a journey through some heart-pumping fun and excitement!