Your children need at least an hour of physical activity every day, according to the American Heart Association. The presence of television, video games and high-tech phone gadgets often gets in the way of children getting the exercise they need. Encourage your child to get off the couch by showing him a few engaging exercises.
If your child doesn’t already know how to jump rope, teach her how. Jumping rope is a great way to convince children to exercise, since it’s an enjoyable activity that doesn’t seem too difficult. Even if your child only jumps rope for 10 minutes a day, she can burn a decent amount of calories and get her heart rate up. Teach her rhymes to try out while jumping or tricks such as crossing her arms in front or jumping on one foot. Have a jump rope contest with her and her siblings to see who can jump the longest without tripping.
In addition to aerobic exercise, children need to work on building muscle strength. While push-ups are one way to develop strength in the arms, pull-ups may be more fun for children, since they involve special equipment and don’t have the stigma push-ups do. You can rig up a pull-up in a doorway by screwing a closet rod to the door frame, or you can purchase a removable pull-up bar. Set a goal with your child, such as 10 consecutive pull-ups by the end of the month and reward her when she reaches that goal.
Children need to build their flexibility and balance too. Show your child a few basic yoga poses, such as the downward dog, in which you support yourself on your feet and hands, sticking your back and buttocks high into the air. Marsha Wenig, who created the YogaKids program, claims that children enjoy imitating other beings, such as a dog or eagle while doing yoga, so stress the imitation while guiding your child through the poses. She recommends letting them bark while in downward dog or meow while doing the cat stretch. Improve your child’s balance by showing her the tree pose, in which she stands on one foot and places the other foot against her calf. Encourage her to wave her hands in the air, like a tree’s branches blowing in the wind.
Jumping Jacks, Sit-Ups and Other Calisthenics
Think back to your days in gym class. You typically warmed up with a series of calisthenic exercises, such as jumping jacks, lunges and sit-ups. Spend 15 minutes a day with your children doing a similar routine. Eliminate any whining that may occur when you say it’s time for jumping jacks by doing the exercises during the commercial breaks of your children’s favorite television shows. Keep a chart to track how many of each exercise your children are able to do during each commercial.