We all know we need to help our kids move more, but what constitutes good exercise for children? The American Heart Association recommends that children ages 2 and older participate in at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. Our electronic age and the ability to drive our kids wherever they need to go can make this suggestion a challenge, especially if your kid has already become used to spending significant time playing video games or watching TV.
ZisBoomBah has plenty of resources to encourage your child to get moving, including The Challenger Calendar (our game for achieving goals) and free “Get Moving!” printables for kids that offer fun exercise ideas (simply choose your “playground”). Parents find relevant articles on the ZisBoomBah blog, like “Sneaky Fitness: Four Fun Ways to Get the Kids Off the Couch,” “Fit Kids: Help them be strong and flexible” or “Family Fitness through the Frost: 5 tips to stay active in cold weather.”
For your child to have a well-rounded active day, she needs to touch on all the components of a healthy body. These are the five areas of movement essential for developing healthy and balanced movement patterns for life.
The basic movements we do in life are squatting, lunging, pushing, pulling, stabilization and rotation. Kids can get all of these movements in at the local playground on the monkey bars, swings, rope climb, etc. Other great ways to improve strength include tug of war, army crawls and climbing stairs.
The top two skills for kids include bilateral coordination, or the ability to use both sides of the body in a symmetrical (pushing a rolling pin) or alternating pattern (pulling a string toward you one hand at a time) and hand eye coordination. Catch or throw a ball, have a relay race where you use both upper and lower body to transfer objects. Consider challenging your kids to use only their lift side, or touch their left hand to their right foot and vice versa as they walk across the room. If nothing else, try the old fashioned trick to see if they can pat their head and rub their tummy while they turn in a circle!
Most cardiovascular activities not only improve the heart and lungs, but they also improve body density. Consider things like how many jumping jacks they can do in 30 seconds or fun sports like basketball or volleyball. Other impact activities include hopscotch, jump rope and skipping.
This one is easy to sneak in as your child plays on the floor or reads a book, see if they can mirror image you as you sit and stretch your legs by touching your toes. You can also see how tall they can get by stretching arms overhead. Better yet, play a game of twister for some laughs while you stretch!
Standing on one foot is only one way we learn to balance. We also learn to react to the world when we stand on a pillow or jump from one spot to another without losing our footing. Consider seeing how well you can balance with your eyes closed, or how challenging it is to stand on a skateboard or with your feet one in front of the other in a straight line.
Stay tuned for our next activity post about motivating your kids to move more in 2013, where we will talk about how to actually get your kids to want to play and move more on their own!