How To... Get Your Kids Moving
One of the best ways to get kids to exercise is by finding ways to get them active without it feeling like actual exercise. From video games to computers, today's kids live a more sedentary life, so it is more important than ever to get kids off the couch and moving. From fun games to trampoline tricks and even yoga, check out these top 5 exercises that kids will love.
Even though these are exercises in the sense that they increase muscle strength, burn calories and get your heart pumping, sport and exercise mental skills coach Carrie Cheadle, M.A., says to stop calling them exercises. "When kids play games, they don't even realize they are breaking a sweat, they are just having fun. Some kids are intimidated when you call it'exercise," she says. "If you want to get your kids more active, figure out ways to get them to play."
Step one: Make a Superhero in-training
"When I work with kids, I use total body exercises and get them energized by relating the exercise to something that excites them," says personal trainer Paul Dziewisz. "The 6-year-old son of one of my clients loves superheroes, so each work-out with his mom I show him an exercise that mimics the movements of a superhero. Now Connor happily does a Superman, a Wolverine and a Batman exercise."
Dziewisz sets up three orange cones in a line and has Connor start at the middle cone, then shuffle to the right, then all the way back to the left and back to the middle. Since his favorite superhero Flash can do it in 1.2 seconds, Connor is determined to beat that record!
"The exercise doesn't need to be magical, but the way the child relates to it does. You'll be surprised what exercises they will do when it is wrapped up in something they love," says Dziewisz.
Step 2: Do a hoop dance
Hula hoops are a great way to strengthen kids' core strength, while working on coordination and rhythm. "Try hula hooping with your kids for exercise after school," says Andrea Metcalf, author of Naked Fitness. "That's the time that energy is lowest for everyone due to the circadian rhythms of light/night hormones. Hula hooping is fun and easy if you have a hoop the right size," says Metcalf, who recommends getting a smaller kids-sized hula hoop, while adults can use the ones weighing about one pound.
Step 3: Create the Playground Olympics
"One exercise we love to do as a family is Playground Olympics," says Dr. Christina Schlacter. "The rules: You have to go through all the playground equipment (swing on swings, slide down slides, climb all the bars, hand walk the monkey bars) - whoever gets through first wins. Do this for a half hour and you'll burn 200-300 calories!"
Step 4: Jump on the trampoline
Studies show that 10 minutes of jumping on a trampoline can equal the health benefits of running for 1/2 hour! "Jumping is key to a child's mental and physical development and helps to accelerate the progress of motor skills, balance and coordination," says Beth Wilkinson of Springfree Trampoline.
Make sure your trampoline has a safety net, and then try out these fun moves:
Step 5: Try yoga for kids
Yoga is not only great for adults, but for kids as well. It strengthens their muscles, improves core strength, and increases balance, agility and coordination. Anna Weeks, yoga instructor who heads up a kids program, says that one of the popular poses for kids is the Simhasana or Lion Pose.
"For the kids' class we have everyone sit on their heels and place their hands on their thighs. Sitting up tall, we take a big inhale and then 'roar,' sticking the tongue out. After a few rounds, we hold the pose with the tongue out, looking up in between the eyebrows," she explains.
"Kids love this pose because they get to playing, 'stalking' and roaring like a lion. It's really helpful for stretching the quadriceps and ankles and strengthening the diaphragm, which improves breathing. It's also great for releasing tension in the upper body, particularly the facial muscles."
For more yoga fun, break out the Twister game. "Twister is yoga in disguise," says fitness business owner Grant Hill.
More ways to raise a healthy family
For more ways to get your family moving, check this out: