Nutrition Foundation

10 Fun Ways to Exercise with Growing Children

Worried about your children plonked in front of the TV or glued to sedentary activities like computer games? Wondering what approach can encourage them to get off the couch and become excited about physical activities. The answer is to find ways to involve them in family exercises they will enjoy and benefit from.

Young children and teenagers need to get at least an hour of moderate to vigorous exercise on a daily basis. One of the most important reasons is for their bone health. Experts recommend engaging in weight-bearing or muscle-strengthening exercises to help build and bolster bones.

How does physical activity help build healthy bones?

Since bones are living tissue, weight-bearing exercises help form new bone tissue. What’s more, they also strengthen the muscles by making them push and tug against bones. That said, it’s important to choose activities that require less equipment and are simple for children to keep up. Also, make sure consistency is maintained. Read on for 10 exercises you can do with young kids that are easy, fun yet healthy.

1. Series of Simple Stretches

Consider teaching your children a series of simple stretches to help keep their muscles flexible. After a short warm-up phase, you can start with stretching the spine and then follow with overarm, outstretch and butterfly stretches. Make sure the kids inhale and exhale slowly during the different types of stretches.

2. Sit-ups, Push-ups, and Planks:

You can try exercises like basic sit-ups, push-ups, and planks. This will strengthen their upper bodies as well as core muscles in the abs and back. And yes, keep a track of everyone’s progress in the regimen. This will encourage and inspire kids.

3. Race Together:

Running is one of the easiest physical activities that you can do with your kids. It is a high impact exercise that stresses the bones of the body and makes them stronger. Just motivate your child to hit the smooth pavement for a race together. Parents VS kids competition is a big hit.

4. Frequent Jumping

Yes, it’s true! Jumping up and down can provide great bone-building benefits. Not to mention, your child will love doing it. Just turn on the music and jump 10 to 20 times a day with short intervals between each bout.

5. Running Stairs:

If you're looking for another simple activity to help stimulate the bone forming process of your child, stair running is a good option. It causes the leg muscles to extend and contract rapidly which in turn builds strength. Start by walking up and down a short flight of steps together and then slowly graduate to running.

6. Just Dance:

Dancing is an activity your children are bound to enjoy. A good twirl with the whole family to some upbeat music can be an exhilarating experience. In fact, dance workout is a sure-fire way to enhance physical fitness, chase away blues and get the muscles pumping.

7. Play an Outdoor Sport:

If your child is entering adolescence, install a basketball hoop in your backyard or play a sport like tennis, badminton, bowling, and Frisbee in the park. Apart from being fun, all the running and leaping around makes for a great workout that boosts stamina and improves the strength of leg and arm bones.

8. Splash in the Swimming Pool

Swimming is an easy, family-friendly activity to get younger children moving. It is a wonderful all-round exercise that is fun and keeps the heart, lungs, and bones strong.

9. Hopscotch, Jumping Rope or Skipping:

You can entice your kid to play hopscotch, jump rope or skip with you every day. Besides being a wonderful exercise, it’s an activity growing kids, especially young girls really enjoy. Let’s not forget the perks! It keeps the children in high spirits while the recurring jumping movements help in building calf, thigh and leg muscles.

10. Sprint Around on Bikes:

Make it a habit to go cycling with your kids around the block or a nearby biking trail in the evenings. Not only will the outdoor exercise and fresh air enhance everyone’s mood but the pedalling will keep the children fitter and energetic.

While physical activity plays a pivotal role in maintaining overall fitness and skeletal health, it’s not enough. Good nutrition and calcium-rich foods also need to be included in the child’s diet. Oh, let’s not forget vitamin D. It’s imperative that growing kids receive the recommended dose (600 IUs a day) of the essential nutrient as it helps the body absorb and retain calcium for building strong bone.

Given that kids these days are such fussy are eaters, they often don’t get sufficient nutrients from food intake. The best way to ensure they are not falling short is to incorporate calcium and vitamin D fortified milk in their daily diet. Remember, the greatest gain in bone mass occurs before and during puberty hence young adulthood is the period to grow strong bones for a whole lifetime. So help your kids get active, fit and healthy!