Children grow at the rate of knots! As we mentioned in a previous article, in their first year of life they can grow as much as 25cm and this doesn’t slow down. Their joints, muscles and ligaments are also being moulded and developed along with this phenomenal growth rate. To ensure that their bodies grow and develop well, you need to choose age-appropriate exercises for children to do which are suitable for their particular stage in life. In this article, we’ve put together a list of the best exercises for children to do.
Children and Exercise
Ask them how they want to exercise
Children can be very fickle people. If they don’t enjoy something they won’t do it. This is the same with exercising. This means that when you want to put together an exercise programme that suits a child – and that they will enjoy – the golden rule is to listen to what type of physical activity that they would want to do and encourage them to do it.
One of the best ways – which we recommended in our article entitled How can you Encourage Children to be Physically Active? – to do this is to take part in the physical activity with them. This will show your kids that being active is cool – because you’re doing it too. This will make them more likely to join in.
The warm-up is key
For all exercises for children – especially if you’ve just started to introduce them to the notion of exercising – start slowly with a warm-up. This activity will need to be individualised and contain some type of movement for eight to 10 minutes. Suggestions include rubbing/massaging the muscle, vestibular movements, weight-bearing movements for a muscle group or physically manipulating a particular gross motor movement which will activate primate reflexes.
Include stretching in your warm-up
Stretching is vitally important as it will help your children avoid any injuries during their workout routine. (We chat more about stretching in this article.) Examples of stretches that you can incorporate into exercises for children include:
- Calf stretch
- Knee to chest stretch
- Half-back roll
- Hamstring stretch
- Quadriceps stretch
- Half-mat hurdle stretch
- Butterfly stretch
- Spinal twist
- Neck rotation.
You can’t treat a workout with a child the same way as you treat one with an adult. This is because their concept of language and understanding are still developing. This means that you need to communicate effectively with them depending on their level of maturity so that your point gets across.
We suggest that you use simple keywords to describe how the exercise might feel or relate to them. For example, for leg curls say “pool” or “kick”. In addition, use your hands to direct, stabilise or stimulate muscle movement in kids.
When you’re helping them with an exercise, try to encourage them to do most of the work. Encourage any and all active range of motion or dynamic movements. Remember that some weights might be involved in the movements but gravity and/or you will be able to provide the resistance that they need to have an effective workout.
As we said previously, encouraging children to take part in physical activity and to exercise can be a minefield. This is why you need to know exactly what you’re doing so that you can train kids in the right way of exercising.
Trifocus Fitness Academy’s Exercise and Children Course teaches aspiring children’s personal trainers the fine art of how to train a child so that their growing bodies can get the best possible benefit out of their workout. If this is something that you would like to pursue, visit our website to find out more about the course.