With childhood obesity continuing to rise, it is important to find ways to engage children in daily physical activity. The benefits of both cardiovascular and strength training in children can include maintaining a healthy weight and increased self esteem and body image. Many agencies, such as the National Institute of Health, recommend children participate in 60 minutes of daily physical activity. Starting the day with a quick five-minute workout can help them reach their 60 minutes.
The National Strength and Conditioning Association's (NSCA ) updated position statement on youth resistance training states that a properly designed and supervised resistance-training program that is relatively safe for youth can improve cardiovascular risk profiles, can increase a young athlete's resistance to sports-related injuries and can enhance muscular strength and power. Specific guidelines for youth resistance training have been set by the NSCA and include performing one to three sets of six to 15 repetitions on upper and lower-body strength exercises. The guidelines also suggest increasing weight by only 5 to 10 percent as strength improves.
Keep It Simple
There are many exercises children can take part in that do not require additional equipment or a tremendous amount of room. The following exercises are a few that can be performed by even the youngest of children: jumping rope, jumping jacks, high knees, butt kicks and hopping on one foot.
When beginning resistance training, start by teaching the proper technique. When the child is ready to add weight, make sure there is always an adult to supervise the workout. Bodyweight exercises and resistance bands can assist with gaining strength while lowering the risk for injury. Start with exercises such as wall push-ups, squats, lunges, biceps curls, triceps dips and sit-ups.
Putting It Together
When starting the five-minute workout, remember to start slowly, take breaks when needed and have plenty of water to drink. By changing exercises often, such as weekly or bi-weekly, you can keep your children from becoming bored. Here is a sample five-minute workout for kids. Start off with a one-minute warm-up that consists of jogging in place. Move to a full-body movement ike squats. Aim for two sets of 10 and allow plenty of rest in between sets. Follow this with 30 seconds of jumping jacks and 30 seconds of rest. Wall push-ups follow; again aim for two sets of 10. Jump rope for 30 seconds then allow 30 seconds of rest. For the last minute, incorporate sit-ups -- two sets of 10 repetitions -- and finish up with 30 seconds of jumping jacks.
Once your child is able to perform the sets and repetitions, you will be able to add intensity by adding the use of resistance bands or increasing the amount of repetitions. Your children may even get to the point where they do not have to rest during the workout. After the workout, do have your child cool down and encourage stretching as well. The most important part is to engage your child. This can be done by letting them pick their exercises, adding music and working out with them.
- European Journal of Pediatrics, The Health Benefits Of Physical Activity In Children And Adolescents: Implications For Chronic Disease Prevention; M. S. Sothern et al.
- Journal of Strength and Conditioning, Youth Resistance Training: An Updated Position Statement Paper From The National Strength And Conditioning Association; A.D Faigenbaum, WJ Kraemer, CJ Blimkie, I Jeffreys, LJ Micheli, M Nitka and TW Rowland
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