Exercises for Kids

boy lifting weightsIt’s unfortunate that you even need to research “exercises for kids”. Long gone are the days of moms yelling for their kids to stop playing and come in for dinner. Nowadays, moms need look no further than the video game console, TV or computer. And, the plea is not come in, but rather, to get up and get active.

As a physical educator, personal trainer and experienced coach for a variety of sports and ages, I have learned some valuable truths over the years that I can share. Note: This article will have suggestions at the end, it’s not all negative, I promise.

exercise for kidsKids Don’t Like Formal Exercise

If you you have a dream of seeing your child doing 30 minutes on the treadmill 3 days per week, I hate to tell you, but it’s probably not going to happen. In general, kids view formal exercise as no fun and too much like work (even more than adults do).  Even through the first years of high school, the average youngster simply doesn’t do that type of thing. I coach high school track and cross country teams, and I can tell you with confidence that it’s a rare child that will get out and run on their own. If we don’t have a team practice with all their teammates with them, training simply won’t happen. I can eventually get my more motivated upper-class-men to do some. Many parents come to me frustrated that their child is lazy and unmotivated. They are usually surprised to find out that their youngster is really in the norm.

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Think More Games and Competition than Exercise

Because kids don’t like formal exercise, you need to mask it in the form of sports, games, events with friends and possibly competitions. Admittedly, this poses a challenge for parents. You may feel like an unwanted activity director on a cruise ship.

Kids Perform Much Better for Peers than Adults

As a parent and running coach, I was thrilled when I found that my daughter was blessed with talent as a runner. I dreamt that the two of us would go on runs together and have grand old times that we’d always cherish. Well, she’s off to college next year, and it still doesn’t happen. I came to terms a long time ago that exercising with dad just isn’t motivating. When it’s with me, every pain and excuse pops up to keep the dream from becoming reality. Funny, she never hurts when she’s with her teammates. I hear this from lots of parents.

kids in poolSome Solid Suggestions

If you’re bent on trying actual exercises for kids, here is a list of exercises that will work just fine for children. My advice is to use weights light enough for them to perform at least 15 repetitions. Any heavier could be harmful for their bones and growth plates. I also have a list of exercise options that would be beneficial. But, I recommend this list of suggestions and activities that will be great to get your child motivated and moving:

  • Sports teams: Maybe not every day, but it gets them moving.
  • Gymnastics/ tumbling: This is a great form of exercise for kids.
  • Martial arts: Another all-around, great exercise motivator for kids.
  • Competitive Club Cheerleading  I’m not talking about pom-pons on the sidelines. This is more like team gymnastics. If you’re not familiar, you should research it.
  • Jump Rope
  • Hiking-With friends
  • Cycling
  • Negotiate equal time for activity with sedentary time: 30 minutes of video game time for 30 minutes of activity. Think about it.

Mike Caton