Most experts would agree that the very best form of exercise for kids is play!
In an article from the American Academy of Pediatrics it states “Play is essential to development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and youth”.
Getting at least 60 minutes a day of physical play is the goal for many of our youngsters.
60 minutes a day doesn’t seem like a long time but with so much technology tempting kids to stay indoors, it’s a good start.
Although, some kids are interested in taking it to the next level and this is where this list comes into play (no pun intended).
Here is a complete list of the best exercises for kids .
1. Posture Exercises
In this day and age, it’s easy to see why terms like “Tech Neck” and “Computer Cramp” are becoming more prevalent. More and more kids are having problems with their necks, backs and posture. Slouching or having poor posture hurts your body by creating a curvature in your spine, which cuts off your nerve supply. Having kids understand the importance of good posture and encouraging them to do posture strengthening exercises is a great way to break the cycle of tech-related injuries. If you also have little ones check out our article 10 Super Fun Large Group Activities For Toddlers
Push-Ups are a great way to build muscular endurance and strength. Push-ups use the upper body particularly the arms, shoulders and chest muscles. Many children need to start out just holding the beginning position of the push-up to ensure the right posture and to help build the strength to perform a proper push-up.
2a. Push-Ups (Wall Variations)
Wall push-ups are a great variation of the traditional exercise. These are perfect for kids who are having a hard time with regular push-ups and they are a great way to help teach the proper form while doing a push-up. Wall variations are also a great way to introduce different styles of push-ups and are good practice for when they start trying the variations in the traditional manner (on the ground).
3. Shoulder/ Rotator Cuff Exercises
With so many kids participating in throwing sports and activities that rely on their shoulder muscles for success like tennis and gymnastics it makes sense that kids should strengthen these muscles to prevent injuries. Shoulder or throwing injuries are some of the top complaints among child athletes. Rotator cuff exercises along with shoulder circles also make great warm-ups before doing an activity.
Squats are one of the best lower body exercises around. Squats work all of your leg muscles and some of your back and abdominal or stomach muscles. While this is one of the best exercises around it is also one of the most technical and must be done right to prevent injury.
4a. Squats (Jump Variation)
Once your child has mastered the regular squat and feels very comfortable doing them with the correct form you can have them try a jump squat. This variation is great for working the fast-twitch muscles which are responsible for speed and explosiveness.
Your core muscles or stomach muscles are one of the most important parts of your body to strengthen in order to provide stability and to prevent injuries in your body. Crunches are an effective and safe way to do just that. Crunches are better than sit-ups as they do a better job at targeting the stomach muscles and are easier on your back.
6. Balance Exercises
Balance training involves doing exercises that strengthen the muscles that help keep you upright, including your legs, back and core. These kinds of exercises can improve stability and help prevent injuries. It is easy to differentiate balancing exercise based upon a child’s skill level. Making small changes to the balance movements can increase the intensity of the exercise for children that need more of a challenge or you can make it easier for someone who is more of a beginner.
7. Jumping Jacks
Jumping jacks are a great way to get the whole body moving. You do not even need to go outside which is nice as most full-body exercises require more space. Jumping jacks incorporate and improve muscular endurance (how long your muscles can move) as well as cardiorespiratory endurance (your heart and lungs working together to move for a long time) at the same time.
8. Leg Lifts
Leg lifts are a great way to help strengthen your stomach muscles or your core muscles. Leg lifts help with all parts of your core muscles but use the lower abdominal muscles more during this exercise.
Lunges are a great lower body or leg exercise. By doing one leg at a time you can help strengthen each leg individually. Doing them correctly will ensure that you get the most out of your leg muscles and not the other parts of your body,
10. Knee Strengthening Exercises
The old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is just as true for kids as it is for adults, possibly even more important. When a child can prevent a future problem by strengthening areas of the body that are prone to injury, it just makes sense. Overuse injuries of the knee and shoulder are extremely common in youngsters. While the best solution to this problem is to prevent the overuse of their precious joints and muscles although strengthening the areas around them is a close second.
11. Calf raises
Calf raises help to strengthen your calf muscles. Your calf muscles help stabilize your knees and help you jump. Most lower body or leg exercises will help your calf muscles but calf raises primarily focus on the calf muscles themselves which can be beneficial in jumping or running sports.
The plank is a great way to strengthen your whole body with almost no risk of injury. While there is always a chance you can hurt yourself with any exercise if done incorrectly the plank is very simple but is very difficult to perform as it uses all body muscles. This is also a great way to practice proper form when doing a push-up.
12a. Plank (Advanced Variations)
Once your child has mastered the traditional plank and can keep their back/bottom strait then they are ready for the advanced variations. The plank is a great way to strengthen the spine which results in proper posture and can help prevent injury.
13. Yoga Poses/ Stretching
Yoga poses and stretching is a great way to increase your flexibility and muscular endurance. Many yoga poses allow you to elongate your muscles but also require you to hold poses in certain positions that require tension on the muscle which also strengthens them. Increasing flexibility not only helps your body but it also prevents injuries.
14. Mountain Climbers
Mountain climbers are a great way to increase your muscular endurance while also increasing cardio-respiratory endurance at the same time. They are also beneficial because they are a compound exercise, meaning they work several joints and muscle groups simultaneously. This is a great full-body exercise that requires little space but packs a big punch for your health.
Everyone wants to feel like a superhero and this exercise can definitely help with that. With so many people sitting and hunching over their computers or phones this exercise with its excellent core and back strengthening ability is a must.
While kids will definitely like the name of this exercise they will also find it exhausting, in a good way. With every movement, they will work their arms, chest, quads ( front of legs), glutes (your bottom), hamstrings (back of the legs), and abs (core). Another great aspect of this exercise is that it is a full-body exercise that does not require any equipment and can be done anywhere.
17. Animal Crawls, Walks and Jumps
Kids love these movements as they represent all different kinds of animals and are great forms of exercise as well. These activities incorporate full-body movements and provide excellent practice in balancing and gross motor movement. Kids can come up with their own animal movements which can encourage creativity.
18. Stair Or Box Step-Up
Step-ups can be a great way for a child to build strength in their legs without having to use weights. You can modify the intensity or difficulty of the step-up by raising or lowering the stair-step or box used during the exercise. For added benefit, you can get great strength and cardio-respiratory improvement by skip stepping multiple flights of stairs. Although, to ensure safety use slow long steps rather than fast choppy ones.
19. Floor Dips
Floor dips are a great and safe way for a child to continue to strengthen their upper body while increasing their heart rate. Increasing your muscular strength and endurance of your triceps or the muscles in the back of your arm will also help the stability of your shoulders and elbows which can prevent injuries in the future.
20. Martial Arts
Many times when you think of exercises for kids you think of running, jump-roping, playing games or sports, which as mentioned at the beginning of the article, are the best types of movement for kids. When children play games and sports they learn valuable lessons of determination, cooperation, sportsmanship and of course the value of being physically fit. While martial arts definitely fit into this category I believe that the lessons that are learned during martial arts are far superior to traditional sports like football or soccer. When children participate in martial arts they still learn all the lessons that traditional sports teach a child but the lessons taught in martial arts far exceed how to pass or kick a ball. The lessons taught in martial arts not only encourage the foundations of a healthy body and mind but sets a positive precedent when dealing with the tough realization that they might have to protect themselves in the future. When it comes to beneficial movements martial arts is unparalleled.
If you believe that we have missed an important exercise for kids or would like to add one to the list please let us know by commenting below.