A Seven-Step Home Fitness Program for Kids
It's understandable that parents are overwhelmed by their busy lives and also that they are confused due to all the information on proper parenting being thrown at them. The promising notion underlying these questions is that most parents understand the importance of getting their kids fit. But where to start?
When parents come to me with these "barriers" to exercise, I always recommend a simple body weight program that can be completed at home. There is no need for equipment, machines, or a lot of space; basically there are no excuses. This home training program is great for any child up to 12 years old. Of course, you may have to adjust the intensity level based on your child's abilities. As kids get to 13 years and older, I usually recommend including some light weights, medicine balls and resistance bands.
7-Step Home Training Program for Kids after the jump...
1. Start with a light aerobic-type of exercise for 2-3 minutes. This can be walking or jogging on the spot or jumping jacks. This gets your heart pumping and warms up your joints and muscles.
2. Follow this with 2-3 minutes of light range of motion movements or active stretches. Try working from your head down to your toes. Side-side neck rolls, shoulder and arm circles in both directions, trunk twists in both directions, hip circles, leg side-side swings, standing toe touches. These types of movements allow kids to learn body awareness. This helps them learn new skills and develops balance and flexibility. With my younger ones, I always direct them to "reach to the left with your right hand," turn the right leg outward, etc. It's great to see how fast they progress from totally confused to actually feeling the stretch and doing the movement properly.
3. Push-ups from your knees or against a wall. Do as many as you can without stopping.
4. Body Squats: Feet shoulder-width apart, hands on your hips, lower your body as if you're sitting in a chair behind you. Repeat this for 1-2 minutes without bending your knees more than 90 degrees.
5. Stomach Crunches: Lying on your back with your knees bent, feet on the floor and hands on your thighs. Raise your shoulders off the ground until your hands slide up your leg and cover your knees. Return to starting position and continue for 1-2 minutes.
6. Wall Sit: Leaning against a wall with your feet shoulder-width apart, slowly lower your body to a sitting position. Make sure your feet are in line with your knees and not too close to the wall. Stay in this position for up to 2 minutes.
7. Shake your body out, get a sip of water and repeat #1-6 in order two more times.
This program will take anywhere from 15-25 minutes, depending on your child's fitness level. Try this program at least three days a week. Don't forget to change things up every couple of weeks to keep your kids interested. Switch the order of exercises often, have your kids train you by leading the exercises, and substitute exercises with whatever comes to mind. The main point is that your kids are moving on a regular basis, getting stronger every day and developing a life-saving habit. Keep in mind that this is simply one piece of a child's daily activity routine as the Surgeon General's recommendation is 60 minutes a day, most days of the week.
Reggie Reyes is a certified kinesiologist and personal trainer. He is the president and founder of pt4kids a company that creates specialized training programs for kids all ages and fitness levels.