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5 Easy and Simple Exercise For Kids During COVID-19

Exercise should be fun for kids. Instead of "working out," think of it as "exercise play." That's the word used for BOKS (Build Our Kids' Success)

5 Easy and Simple Exercise For Kids During COVID-19

Exercise should be fun for kids. Instead of "working out," think of it as "exercise play." That's the word used for BOKS (Build Our Kids' Success) by Ewunike Akpan who is a personal trainer accredited by the American Council on Exercise and also the associate manager for the mid-Atlantic region.

BOKS is a community-based exercise curriculum for children in elementary and middle school, and that's all about fun and games! Children get to school about 45 minutes early and spend time in a fun, active play. This is a perfect way to incorporate exercise into their daily routine. And it also makes them do well in school — both academically and in behavior.

So, what follows are ideas for children's simple exercises — movements and games that they can enjoy and benefit from, and that require no machinery or large outdoor spaces to do. These can be performed in 5-10 minute short bursts, or for longer play-time, you can string many together. Start with a couple of minutes of warm-up exercises to push the muscles and hearts.

Just Running

Running is just about the easiest type of exercise available and it's great for children. I just love it! Children will run outdoors but even indoors: a wide table in a gymnasium, down a corridor, or even around (and around). Running, like relay races, can also be paired with other moves into sports. Details later on!

Adjust things when running: Change the patterns of movement by making children turn from running to skipping, or try running in position with feet very low to the ground (this is called "quick feet."

Children can also run with high knees (trying to lift alternating knees with each step towards the chest) or "butt kicks" (kicking alternating heels with each step towards buttocks). Changes of direction (side to side or back) operate both in the muscles and brains, improving coordination among children.

Try Jumping

5 Easy and Simple Exercise For Kids During COVID-19

Take the feet up and off the ground to make the quick exercise that children want to do. Jumps develop muscle strength, cardiovascular health, and endurance. Pleasant jumps for children to try and include:
  1. Jumping Jacks: spread arms and legs like a starfish to the side when jumping; return arms to the sides on the second leap and legs to the middle of the landing
  2. Tuck Jumps: Knees bend and heels rise high when jumping
  3. Hurdle Hops: hop side by side or front by side over pretend hurdle
  4. One-foot hops: raise one knee and jump on the standing leg; alternate (this is also a great test for the balance!)
  5. Criss-Cross Feet: leap straight up, then cross one foot in front of the other; turn feet on next leap and start

Squats & Lungs

5 Easy and Simple Exercise For Kids During COVID-19

You do them, and children should also do them: Bend the knees (but not too far) for squats and lunges! These basic exercises develop strength in the legs and give children a healthy foundation for all kinds of sports and fitness activities. Do all forward, backward, and side lunges and classic squats.
You can integrate hops into a squat series by making children hop in between squats after they stand up.

Push-ups and Sit-ups

5 Easy and Simple Exercise For Kids During COVID-19

Drop to the floor for the core-working basic exercises: sit-ups, push-ups, and flanks. Children will do conventional abdominal crunches, crunches on the bicycle, sit-ups on the legs, and more. There are so many variants on the traditional sit-up.

Children should also learn to do simple push-ups and planks in the abs and back to strengthen their upper bodies and core muscles. Incorporate these into games and other fitness activities (see next step) as with other exercises like squats and lunges to keep children involved and having fun.

Fitness Games

5 Easy and Simple Exercise For Kids During COVID-19

Turn it into a game to make the exercise more fun for kids. Below are some suggestions from professor Ewunike Akpan of BOKS.

  1. Squat Relay: Have children line up around the house, facing each other. On "go," both children are running towards the center of the room and meeting in the center. They do three squats, giving each other a high-five with both hands after each rep. Then they go back to the start and repeat. The emphasis is on the high-fives and contact with society. When you have a large group, you might make the lines move horizontally between the reps, so that each time children encounter another friend in the center of the room.
  2. Corners: Split the children to each have a home corner. Then run them in a circle around the house, return to their home corner on your cue and do some simple exercises (say, 5 jumping jacks or a 30-second board). Akpan recommends encouraging children to determine what activities they need to do in each corner to give them control of their play.
  3. Go Back and Hit It: Kids run forward in designated lines on "go". Then yell out "Back" to get them moving in reverse. Finally, cue "Hit it!" to add a particular skill, like a tuck jump or squat. Give the children feedback to select the "hit it" ability again.
  4. Traffic: Something is going on in this BOKS version of "Red Light, Green Light." Children stop and start at red and green lights, but even do a side shuffle for a yellow light, do bunny hops at speed bumps, join elbows and run with a "carpool" buddy, and even gallop when the cue is "deer crossing." Make some more moves with your baby!

Conclude With Stretching

Follow up with some easy stretches after exercise play with kids to keep the muscles tight and balanced. A stretching and cool-down sequence can also help move children into a more comfortable post-workout condition (hey, we can dream!), and help avoid injury.

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YourFitnessRink - Fitness and Health Matters: 5 Easy and Simple Exercise For Kids During COVID-19
5 Easy and Simple Exercise For Kids During COVID-19
Exercise should be fun for kids. Instead of "working out," think of it as "exercise play." That's the word used for BOKS (Build Our Kids' Success)
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