Just let you kids get out there and play! For sure. But how about channeling some of that fun into more focused exercise? Is it really such a bad thing? Is it “over the top” as many would argue? I think not if done the right way.
The reality is that you can find plenty of credible authority espousing the benefits of weight training for young kids. In fact, the Mayo Clinic website featured an article that addressed this exact topic. (See http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/strength-training/HQ01010)
Let’s forgo the actual weights right now and simply consider exercises for your kids that combine some challenging fun with substantial benefit:
1) Elbow Planks – Assume a regular pushup position but drop from supporting your weight with your hands to your elbows and forearms. In essence, your elbows will flank out while your hands will come together on the ground below your lifted head. For some added fun, have two girls face each other while holding their planks and play the game “1,2,3,4 I declare a thumb war.” Distractions like this or singing a song will boost their endurance more than you can imagine.
2) Regular Pushups making sure that your body positioning is conducive to holding a glass of water on their backs. (Backs should neither be arched/sagging or rounded upwards.) Even one to start with proper form is an achievement. Just watch in amazement how they can work their way up in number.
3) Wall Sits with your back against the wall and legs as close to a 90-degree angle as possible. (Pretend you are sitting in a chair, of course without the seat for support.) To make it more challenging and fun, squeeze a soft ball between your legs to work the inner thighs as well. And here comes that distraction: Have two kids wall sit across from one another and throw a soft ball back and forth – how many times can they successfully throw and catch back and forth before they drop down?
4) The Lie down (on back), Stand-up, Jump as high as you can maneuver: So start by lying on your back. Roll up to stand and then immediately spring into a vertical jump as high as you are able, all in one motion. After the jump roll back into the flat-lying position. Do this 5 – 10 times and huffing and puffing will fill the room.
5) Jump Rope – kid friendly all on its own.
6) Frog Jumps across the room and back. Starting on all fours (feet and hands) squatting down, spring forward across the room and back.
7) Ab Toss – This one requires a partner. Have one start on her back with a ball held overhead with both hands while the other is sitting up on the floor. The one with the ball then rolls up to sitting while tossing to ball to a partner about 5 feet across. The partner then catches, rolls back with the ball overhead and repeats the roll to throw motion. Keep track of record consecutive tosses.
8) Rock the Boat – Stop the Boat. Another great one for the abs. If without a partner, sit on your tailbone with arms straight overhead and legs out straight about two inches off the floor. Rock back maintaining that same position and then rock forward, stopping the boat so as not to let those legs touch the ground. If with a partner, take turns yelling out rock the boat and then, when she yells stop the boat, the partner has to freeze, squeeze and hold that position with arms and legs raised a few inches off the floor until the rock the boat command rings out loud and clear once again.
Of course, some good stretching in the end is called for, as flexibility is crucial for the budding athlete. For fear of losing your attention now though, suggested stretches are best left for a future post.
Look forward to hearing your fun-filled and effective additions to this list.
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