It’s no secret that exercise is a vital factor in a healthy life so why not teach your kids to love it while they’re young? Incorporating the proper amount of physical activity in your children’s routine can set them up for a healthy future into their adulthood- becoming the foundation for a trend of healthy habits.
Also, activating certain muscle groups from a young age can prepare your little one(s) for more complex motor skills in the future such as balancing during an activity like riding a bike or dribbling a soccer ball.
According to a medically reviewed article written by Insider, toddlers should have 60 minutes of active play daily, ages 3-6 years old should have 120 minutes of daily activity and ages 6-17 should have one hour of exercise daily as well as one hour of muscle-strengthening three times a week. Be cautious of over-exercising though. Pay attention to your child’s response to the amount of physical activity they participate in.
Ryan Ingley, AT, an athletic trainer with Nationwide Children’s Hospital Sports Medicine, states "Encouraging free play, outdoor exploration, and involvement in activities, games, or sports are the best ways to get kids physically active.”
Check out these fun and easy options of exercise for your kiddos.
The Obvious One: Running
Running can come in many forms. For kids, it can look like freeze tag, red-light green-light, or sharks and minnows. Your older ones might enjoy something that involves strategy such as capture the flag or soccer. Candice Taylor Lucas, MD, an associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of California Irvine School of Medicine revealed that running helps kids develop healthy hearts, lungs, and coordination. Not only that, aerobic exercise such as running can improve academic performance, cognitive performance, and mental health.
A Hop, Skip, And A Jump Towards Balance and Coordination
Lucas states that jumping is a fundamental skill that helps develop balance and coordination while building up strength in a child’s legs and core muscles at the same time. In 2018, a small study was conducted on boys aged 10-12. One group completed a jump rope train program three times a week while the other group engaged in regular physical activity, no jumping included. Over a 10-week period, the group that did include jumping gained more strength and endurance than the group that didn’t.
Fun ways to incorporate jumping into your kid’s lifestyle can be with games such as leapfrog, potato sack races, or the iconic jump rope.
Skipping is pretty much if running and jumping had a baby and named it Skip. You can substitute running with skipping to improve balance and coordination along with proprioception skills- the ability to sense your body’s position and movements.
Strength Building But Make it Fun
Movements you can teach your kids young are bear crawls, crab walks, squats, and supermans.
- bear crawls: targets upper body muscles including shoulders chest and arms as well as lower body muscles including quadriceps and hamstrings.
- crab walks: activate the triceps, hamstrings, shoulders, glutes and abdominals.
Lucas shared, "These are great for kids who are sitting all day and for building upper body strength. Like bear crawls, these also foster an active play opportunity that leans on a child's imagination." Pretend to be crabs on the beach or bears in the forest.
- squats: targets lower body muscles including glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, and hip flexors. Pay attention to form with this one. Make sure that your kids are pushing their hips back and keeping their knees in line with their toes, not over.
- superman: this fun and easy exercise activate your abdominal and back muscles. Pretend to be superheroes flying through the sky while doing this one.
Let Them Engage In What They Love Most
All in all, physical activity should be fun for you and your kids. Get to know what they truly enjoy by allowing them to explore their interests and encouraging them to pursue whatever it is that keeps them in an active and healthy lifestyle.