Saturday, May 20, 2017

Physical Activity for Kids

For some kids, getting physical activity can be a challenge. Some wonder what activities count for physical education. If your kids our physically active, it all does! There is a wide range of activities that are appropriate for physical education.

For organized activities, there are lots of ways to get kids moving. Many YWCA, YMCA and Boys & Girls Clubs offer athletic programs like traditional baseball, basketball and soccer, as well as offering swimming and gymnastics. Remember that dance and martial arts classes also count as physical activity. Also, don't forget to check out what your city and county parks and recreation departments offers your community.

For the DIYers there is lots of ways to incorporate physical activity into your lives.

Park days

Take the kids to a local park to run around on the play equipment. All of equipment there require use of the various muscle groups. Climbing, monkey bars, rock walls, all involve development of muscle and balance. Some parks have basketball or tennis courts. You don't need to be an expert to play games such as H-O-R-S-E.  Varieties of tag and hide & seek are fun for groups of kids.  Keep some sidewalk chalk with you and create a hopscotch or 4-square game. Hula hoops and frisbees offer lots of inexpensive entertainment, as well a activity that can be done almost anywhere.

For another level of sophistication, consider purchasing a slack line, which is like a trapeze wire, without the danger. Kids can practice balance on the 2" wide strap, hooked between trees.

At home

Yoga is a popular and inexpensive activity. Books for kids abound, as well as videos for a varied experience the whole family can enjoy.

Cosmic Kids Yoga  (YouTube) offers a wide variety of videos, using themes such as Star Wars, Harry Potter and Minecraft to get kids interested.

Wai LanaYoga (YouTube & some PBS stations) offers videos appropriate for both adults and children. The videos are gentle and done on the coast of Hawaii, so the scenery is beautiful and peaceful. On YouTube there are short videos that could be made into a playlist for a full session. She also offers videos for sale for both kids and adult versions.

Books for kids abound. Some of the books include My Daddy is a Pretzel is a fun book, with a series of yoga moves, encouraging doing yoga together as a family. Peaceful Piggy Yoga and Babar's Yoga for Elephants offer a humous way of practicing yoga.

Video Games have become a surprising addition to physical activity. The Nintendo WiiU and the older Nintendo Wii, offers lots of options for active play. The original game system came with a Wii Sports and there have been lots of add-ons through the years. Many of the programs integrate aerobic with balance and stretching activities. The ones that I have been most impressed with include:

Wii Sports - This is the game that came with the original Wii game system. It offers tennis, baseball, boxing, golf, and bowling. These games are great fun and the boxing provide a great aerobic workout.
Wii Sports Resort - They have added resort games such as frisbee, sword fighting (which is a great workout), as well as lots of balance games.
Wii Fit and Wii Fit U (they require the Wii Fit balance board). The Wii fit series offers yoga, strength and balance exercises, and aerobic workouts. All in an animated format, these can provide a through worked.
The Just Dance series offers a fun, high-energy workout. Dance moves set to contemporary music offers an opportunity to get a real aerobic workout.  Just Dance Disney and Just Dance Kids is great for little kids.

A note about Nintendo games. As always, the video game system industry is constantly changing and upgrading. The older Wii system is fairly inexpensive now and can be found used. The Wii U system is still in production, but is being replaced in 2017 with a new system. All older Wii games can play in the  newer Wii U, but moving forward, they will not be compatible with the new video game system.

Motivation! Are your kids motivated by rewards? Consider using the program to encourage physical activity. There are patches for summer and winter activities, as well as hiking, camping, archery, gymnast, and skateboarding.

Things to keep on hand for impromptu physical play. Many of these items are available at thrift stores, as well as local dollar stores.

  • Hula hoops - These can be used for more than just hula hooping. They can be used on the ground to mark play areas, for jumping and creating alternative games. 
  • Frisbees - Purchase inexpensive ones from thrift or dollar stores. They can be used to mark out space, a tag spot or a baseball base. 
  • Basketball 
  • Soccer ball 
  • Playground ball  - good for playing 4 square and other playground games. 
  • Nerf-style blasters - Variations can be found at dollar stores. We found blow darts with the foam darts for $1. 
  • plastic cones - Found a the dollar store, the cones allow us to mark a goal area or the boundaries of a game. 
  • beach ball - compact and easy to blow up, allow for impromptu games. 
  • Bubbles - Blow bubbles and encourage the kids to chase them. 
  • Sidewalk chalk. Draw a 4-square or hopscotch on the pavement. 
  • Jump rope


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