Are your kids getting the daily 60 minutes or more of physical activity recommended for their health and well-being? Fitness expert and author Steve Ettinger, CSCS, wants to make sure they are. With his passion for fitness and his expertise in health, fitness, coaching and youth athletics, Ettinger wrote the hit children’s fitness book Wallie Exercises, which puts the importance of exercise in terms our kiddos will understand. We asked Ettinger for tips and a fun workout to help keep our kids fit.
Educate your kids about health and fitness
SheKnows: What inspired you to create Wallie Exercises?
Steve Ettinger: I was working as a behavior therapist in elementary and pre-schools and saw firsthand how inactive kids have become. At the same time, there weren’t any books that I liked that addressed the topic of exercise for kids. Since my background is in fitness and psychology, I decided to combine my two interests to write Wallie Exercises. My intention was to create something that could teach kids about exercise without hitting them over the head with the information.
Make fitness fun
SheKnows: What are your tips for making kids’ fitness fun and something they will want to do into adulthood?
Steve Ettinger: Exercise should never feel forced. I think most people have at least one negative memory associated with a school gym class — being forced to run a mile or climb a rope are the classics. Real success lies in structured freedom. This means giving children ideas and direction and then letting them explore within those boundaries. Children (and adults) are more likely to make positive associations with something when it feels like it’s their choice.
Exercise recommendations for kids
SheKnows: How much exercise should kids be getting every day?
Steve Ettinger: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children get 60 minutes or more of daily physical activity. I always lean heavily towards the “more.” While the exact amount of activity varies with each individual, we should always aim above the baseline. If you’re focusing too much on getting a specific amount of time in, it probably means you’re not enjoying the physical activity. Exercise should not feel like work –- especially for kids!
Fun fitness routine for kids
Sometimes, getting kids interested in fitness is as simple as adding as silly name or movement to an existing exercise. Below is a fun workout your kids can do at home or outdoors.
Instructions: Perform each exercise for 30 seconds. After you’ve completed all five, take a one-minute rest before repeating the sequence one or two more times.
Silly Shark Squats (as seen in Wallie Exercises)
Start position: Put your hands together on top of your head to make a shark fin.
Movement: Keeping your head up and back straight, slowly lower your bottom toward the ground. When you’re far enough down that you could be sitting in an imaginary chair, stand back up!
Monkey Mountain Climbers
Start position: Get in a push-up position.
Movement: Keeping your back straight, bring your right knee up toward your chest. Return the foot to its starting position and perform the same movement with your left leg/knee. Keeping your feet on the ground, bend your elbow and bring the right hand to your armpit (like a monkey scratching itself). Return the hand to starting position and perform the same movement with your left hand.
Challenge: Keeping your back straight, try to lift one knee toward your chest while lifting the opposite arm into a monkey position. Return the hand and foot and perform the same movement on the other side.
Burpees (the name is funny enough as is!)
Start position: Standing straight up
Movement: Squat down and put your hands on the ground, either next to your feet or just in front of them. Jump your feet back into a push-up position. Keeping your back straight, go down into a push-up. Jump your feet back just behind your hands. Jump straight up with your hands above your head.
One-leg Hippo Hops
Start position: Stand up straight with your hands on your hips and your elbows out wide. Lift one knee as high as your waist.
Movement: Keeping your hands in position, jump straight up and land softly on the ball of your foot.
Challenge: Switch feet in mid-air!
Start position: Get in a push-up position.
Movement: Keeping your back straight, lower yourself until your chest is several inches from the ground. Without moving your hands or feet, push your bottom up and back into “downward dog” position. Shake your bottom (or tail) at the top before returning to the start position.
For more information on health and fitness, visit SteveEttinger.com.