Exercise for Kids

Overall Body Workout Routine for Teen Boys

Warm up, Cool Down, and Stretch

Before beginning any exercise program, teens should warm up and stretch their muscles in order to reduce the risk of injury. Do ballistic stretches by swinging the arms or legs briskly, kicking lightly from side to side, or shaking a body part to loosen the muscles. Include static stretches such as reaching the arms overhead on each side one at a time and holding for a count of 10, bending forward for a toe touch, and performing basic lunges. Yoga postures are effective for stretching before working out. Perform warm-up and cool-down stretches at the beginning and end of a workout.

Cardiovascular

Education.com and the Washington state Department of Social and Health Services claim that one-quarter of adolescents are overweight, and that vigorous physical activity for 20 minutes per day three times a week is important for teen health. Teens should include at least a half hour of cardiovascular work in their routine in order to increase the heart rate and burn fat. Punching a heavy bag using varying punches such as the uppercut, cross and jab is effective. Jogging, running, plyometrics, elliptical, basketball or other sports that involve increasing the heart rate and sweating for 20 minutes or more will contribute to an effective workout.

Strength Training

Add some resistance training into a workout to help your teen increase overall musculature and strength. Teens Health recommends using resistance such as weight bands, free weights, weight-lifting machines or isometrics to get a thorough body workout. If your teen doesn't have access to weights, she can do pushups and pullups, use her body weight for resistance. Focus on technique, and add increasing weight over time in order to develop body mass. Work out with weights two to three days per week for best results.

Core Work

Working the core is important for maintaining balance and coordination. Core training makes it easier to perform physical activities, and MayoClinic.com advocates focusing on the abdominals and lower back muscles when working the core. Your teen should perform lower leg raises and basic leg crunches while lying on his back. Have him perform multiple repetitions and sets using correct form in order to begin experiencing results.

Dumbbell Exercises for Teenagers

Dumbbell Chest Press

Performing a chest press on a stability ball increases the challenge.
Performing a chest press on a stability ball increases the challenge.

The dumbbell chest press improves stabilization and builds upper-body strength. To perform the exercise, your teen should lie on a bench or other stable surface, with feet planted on the ground. Begin with the dumbbells at chest height, elbows bent out to the sides, and then straighten the elbows while bringing the dumbbells together. Spot your teen's wrists during this movement, and lower the weight if she cannot press the dumbbells without bending her wrists.

One Arm Rows

Have your teen use a support surface if needed during one arm rows.
Have your teen use a support surface if needed during one arm rows.

Unlike bicep curls or tricep extensions, one arm rows work all of the arm muscles in one simple movement. To perform one arm rows, have your teen stand in a lunge position with her right leg forward and her right arm resting on her right knee. The dumbbell should be in her left hand, which starts in an extending position. Spot her as she raises her left elbow straight up into the air, pulling the dumbbell straight upward. If you notice her twisting her upper body or straining her neck, lower the weight of the dumbbell. Repeat on the other side.

Overhead Press

The overhead press works the muscles in the back and shoulders.
The overhead press works the muscles in the back and shoulders.

The overhead press can be performed in a sitting or standing position. Your teen will start out with one dumbbell in each hand. Her arms are extended to each side and bent at the elbows, so the dumbbells are at head level. Cue your teen to inhale, then exhale as she raises the dumbbells overhead and locks out her elbows. Keep an eye on her back and head. If her head moves forward or if her back starts to arch, the weight might be too heavy.

A Note About Isolation Exercises

Some of the most well-known dumbbell exercises, such as tricep extensions and bicep curls, are intended to isolate one muscle group in order to build muscle in that particular area. Although these exercises aren't harmful, a teenage weightlifting program should focus on building total-body strength. Isolation exercises are a helpful supplement to other total-body exercises, but they shouldn't be the staple of your teen's lifting program. Throw in some bicep curls or tricep extensions at the end of a dumbbell workout.

What Are the Dangers of Children Lifting Weights?

Injuries

A variety of injuries have been linked to weight training during childhood, including herniated disks, bone fractures, muscle tears, cartilage injury and growth plate damage. The low back is the most common area for injury, according to data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System. The NEISS data estimates that approximately 20,940 to 26,120 injuries occurred between 1991 and 1996 in people under age 21. These injuries were all somehow associated with strength-training equipment. However, keep in mind that this data does not account for the type of training nor the exact cause of the injury, points out the journal "Pediatrics."

What to Avoid

Lifting weights can be an exciting experience for kids and may even boost self-esteem, particularly in children who aren't into other sports. However, most experts agree that children should not pursue weight training as an end in itself. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises children who haven't passed through puberty to avoid disciplines like bodybuilding, power lifting and explosive Olympic lifts. As noted in the book "Pediatric Sports Medicine for Primary Care," "Increasing strength is clearly only one aspect of performance, and it should not be the primary focus of the training regimen."

Overtraining

Like any sport, lifting weights excessively can cause overtraining syndrome. Symptoms of overtraining include decreased performance at school, fatigue, joint and muscle pain, personality changes, and sleep and appetite changes. To prevent overtraining, encourage your child to take at least three rest days during the week and always include a warm-up and cool-down in his workouts. Limiting your child's training to two or three nonconsecutive days of the week can go a long way in preventing overtraining. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, training more than four days a week does not appear to have any benefit for young athletes.

Misconceptions

Although there certainly are risks associated with strength training during childhood, a resistance training program can be beneficial for kids. Nevertheless, there are still some common misconceptions about lifting weights during youth. For example, strength training was once thought to stunt growth. However, research has consistently demonstrated that a well-planned program does not interfere with growth and even helps children develop healthy bones, ligaments and joint integrity. Likewise, although injuries can happen, the AAP notes that most of these are preventable and caused by excessive loads, improper form and lack of supervision.

Fitness Crafts for Kids

Nutritious Food Book

Gather up some old magazines, glue, construction paper and yarn. Sit down with your child and help him search through the magazines to find pictures of nutritious food. Cut out several examples; look for fruits, vegetables, milk and grains. Glue the healthy food pictures to pieces of construction paper. Use a pen or marker to write the name of the food below the picture. You can also categorize the food by writing the name of food group or groups it falls into on the food pyramid. Once the pictures are glued and labeled, use a hole punch to punch holes on the outside edge of the construction paper, then tie the holes together to create a book. Go through the book with your child, and discuss why each food is important and how eating right relates to fitness.

Portable Hopscotch

Hopscotch is a way for kids to get exercise, an important part of fitness. Kids will enjoy making this portable mat that they can take with them and unroll for an impromptu round of hopscotch. You'll need a large roll of canvas—at least 12 to 15 feet long and 2 to 3 feet wide—some decorative materials and a ribbon. Unroll the canvas, and use a book or magazine to trace 8 to 10 squares on the canvas in a standard hopscotch arrangement. Use paint or markers to number each box. Let your child decorate each square as she wishes. Cut or punch a hole in one end of the canvas, then thread a section of ribbon through it. This will allow you to tie the mat closed once it is rolled up. Make a portable beanbag marker by filling a small cloth bag or sock with rice and tying it shut with the ribbon.

Fitness Brag Book

Encourage your child to be fit and active with this fitness brag book craft. Take photos of your child doing various activities, such as jumping, running, standing on one leg or throwing a ball. Print the photos, and attach each one to a piece of paper. Under each picture, create a caption that starts with the phrase "I can." Have your child finish the phrase to match each picture. Let your child decorate the page with stickers, drawings or rubber stamps. Punch holes in the edge of each page, and tie them together to create a book, or arrange the pages in a three-ring binder or album. Add a picture of your child on the front for the cover, and come up with a creative title that relates to fitness.

Therapeutic Techniques to Raise Body Awareness in Children

Yoga

Yoga incorporates purposeful movements, relaxation and breathing exercises. Kid's yoga often incorporates poses with animal names to make it more entertaining and engaging for the little ones. Your child can attend group yoga or individual yoga. Individual sessions are sometimes offered for children with special needs or in need of special one-on-one attention. As your child moves through the yoga poses, he will increase his body awareness, position in space, strength and flexibility. These movements can even calm hyperactive kids and increase concentration.

Meditation

Even young children can learn meditation techniques. Purchase a guided meditation CD or read a meditation book for kids aloud to him, pausing when needed. As he travels through the meditation, especially at the beginning, there are instructions to bring attention to certain parts of the body. For example, kids are instructed to become aware of a particular area, relax it and imagine light flowing to that area. After a meditation session, your child should be calm, centered and happy.

Massage

Massage is beneficial for children and adults. Infant massage helps the little one make important neural connections, allows him to relax his busy developing muscles and can start to make the child more aware of his new body. As a child gets older, the massage can bring his attention to each muscle as it is touched. These actions draw that busy mind of his into a focus on his body. If he has a physical condition, massage can often help alleviate pain, reduce stiffness and hopefully regain some range of motion.

Occupational Therapy

There are several occupational therapy techniques that can be implemented to help your child with his body awareness. A trained occupational therapist will assess your child’s needs and determine the appropriate course of action. For example, the therapist may recommend sensory integration therapy to help your child achieve a sense of his body through some specialized movements. Occupational therapists may also implement special equipment specifically designed for kid's therapy, such as swings, trampolines, ball pits and textured equipment. Aquatic therapy is another method of occupational therapy. An occupational therapist works with the child while he is in water and special exercises are performed.

Boxing for Kids in Albuquerque, New Mexico

LA Boxing

LA Boxing is a fitness training program using boxing, kickboxing and mixed martial arts skills as its medium. The facility has state-of-the-art equipment, including 150-pound punching bags, mats and boxing gloves. It features a class devoted entirely to kids and teaching them self-discipline, coordination, self-defense and confidence in a fun and energetic program. Through this training, your kids will have the opportunity to learn that perseverance and determination will enable them to achieve almost anything. The self-defense aspect of the training aims to develop a child's ability to think rather than panic in a potentially dangerous situation.

ABQ Kickboxing

ABQ Kickboxing is a world-class mixed martial arts training center. It has six certified instructors on staff providing a family-friendly environment. The kids' classes are for 5 to 12 year olds and combine a number of combat disciplines. Children will learn the skills of boxing, mauy thai, savate and jui-jitsu. Through building self-discipline, confidence and respect, kids will become better students, and this will hopefully carry over into schoolwork. An important aspect of this program is that kids are enabled to progress at their own pace, not being compared to others. This will build the desired self-confidence that kids need to thrive.

Rosales Kajukenbo

Rosales Kajukenbo is a martial arts training facility that bases its techniques on kajukenbo, which is a mixture of karate with other systems. It offers traditional kickboxing and boxing programs as well. Kids as young as 4 years old can enroll in a class and learn from Tony Rosales, who has over 35 years of experience in martial arts. Rosales is open to all skill levels and abilities. You can enroll your kids in its classes whether you are looking for self-defense training, martial arts education or just an excellent physical workout.

Gracie Barra

The Gracie Barra Association is a worldwide training program in Brazilian jui-jitsu with over 150 locations. Its facilities in Albuquerque have a training program for kids 3 to 15 years old. It places an emphasis on character development while teaching the fundamentals of the boxing discipline of Brazilian jui-jitsu. Kids will learn focus, determination, persistence and cooperation as they progress in the program. It aims to develop kids into champions not only in martial arts, but in all aspects of life.

How to Teach Cardio Boxing Skills & Activities to Teens

Develop a routine. Though you can vary some specifics, your teen will internalize the skills if you stick to the same general workout each time. Cycle through periods of moderate exertion punctuated by bursts of a minute or two of extreme exertion. Typical cardio boxing sessions run between 20 and 40 minutes, plus some time for warmup and cool-down, but you can tailor the length of your routine to meet the needs of your students.

Focus on the basic skills inherent in each exercise in your routing. A well-thrown punch is easier on the body and burns more calories than a weak punch. Good footwork engages the core, glutes and calves in a way that weak footwork won't. Any given combination consists of different arrangements of those basic skills, which means that a teen who has mastered those skills can learn an infinite variety of routines.

Stick to the aerobic and strength-building aspects of the workout while teaching. Although the combative nature of boxing is part of the fun, this is not an appropriate environment for teaching self-defense or fighting skills. Teens should never leave a cardio boxing class thinking they know how to box.

Add partner drills and punching bag exercises to the routine once your teens demonstrate proficiency with the basics. These drills can make the workout more fun, while adding coordination and timing to the benefits of the class.

Tip

Music selection is another important part of making a group fitness class attractive to teens. Different styles work better for different groups, but in general go for high-energy music with a consistent beat. Techno and hip-hop are two popular examples.

Warning

Only somebody familiar with boxing basics and group fitness best practices should teach teens -- or anyone else -- cardio kickboxing skills. If you're not familiar, find a professional to teach the skills. You can still interact with the teen while practicing those skills together.

At What Age Should Children Start to Exercise?

Earliest Exercises

For infants, exercise should consist of daily physical activities that promote movement and exploration of the child’s environment. At the toddler and preschool age, most children are still too young for organized sports and should get exercise from a combination of planned and unstructured activities. Activities can include running, jumping, kicking a ball, riding a tricycle, dancing or climbing. In other words, the way in which most children interact and play at this age provides the best form of exercise.

Organized Sports

By the time your child is 6 to 8 years old, exercise can include participation in organized sports. It’s usually best to begin in a non-competitive or instructional league. Some children enjoy team sports such as soccer and baseball. Others prefer activities that, while organized and structured, are not team oriented. Individual sports such as tennis, golf, swimming, gymnastics and karate offer good exercise opportunities.

Strength Training

Some children express an interest in strength training at an early age. According to MayoClinic.com, strength training can become a part of your child’s exercise program as early as 7 to 8 years of age, but only if he can follow instructions easily and is mature enough to understand the importance of performing the exercises correctly. Your child should also understand that strength training at this age is meant to improve muscle tone and increase endurance, not bulk up. Lifting weights won’t create bigger muscles in a child who hasn’t yet reached puberty, and using heavy weights can cause injury to muscles and tendons.

A qualified trainer or coach should supervise your child’s strength training at this age. It’s also a good idea to get approval from your child’s doctor before starting such a program.

How Much Exercise?

The National Association for Sport and Physical Education gives specific recommendations for how much exercise your child needs. Toddlers should get at least 90 minutes of physical activity each day – 30 minutes of planned activity and 60 minutes of free play. Preschoolers need 60 minutes of structured activity and 60 minutes of free play each day. Children 5 to 12 years of age need at least 60 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week.

How Does Fitness Affect the Health of Preschool Children?

Physical Health Benefits

Preschoolers who achieve and remain fit garner immediate and enduring benefits. Like their parents, preschool children who are fit are more likely to have bodies that readily accommodate an ever-changing agenda; for the preschooler, this usually involves movement related to fun that tests the child’s limits. Fitness helps in the development of healthy muscles and bones, and aids in acquiring milestones in the motor domain. Some of the lasting benefits of fitness include a diminished risk for developing obesity, Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and elevated cholesterol levels.

Social and Emotional Health Benefits

Parents recognize that daily challenges are easier to tackle when they feel good. Similarly, fitness aids your preschool child in dealing with sources of stress and influences an optimistic attitude toward life. Fitness provides positive self-esteem as your child gains greater self-assurance about her running, skipping, jumping and climbing capabilities. The National Association for the Education of Young Children reports that preschool children gain social, conflict resolution and problem-solving skills through playground activities designed to build fitness.

Cognitive Health Benefits

If you have ever noticed how attending to a task seems easier after engaging in a form of physical activity, you won’t be surprised to learn that the brain receives benefits when preschool children are physically fit. The National Association for the Education of Young Children reports that an association exists between an increase in brain connections and physical activity. Additionally, children who struggle to remain on-task benefit from the physical activity provided by recess.

Encouraging Fitness

Parents can help preschool child become and remain fit. Staying active comes naturally for your child during this developmental period, so use strategies to reinforce what is already in place. Observe what your preschooler enjoys doing, and what she is already adept at doing. KidsHealth recommends that parents use these observations to incorporate similar activities into your family’s agenda, and offer many opportunities to engage in preferred activities. Focusing on fun helps to ensure that your preschool child will enjoy the physical activity that influences fitness.

How to Make an In-Home Gym for Little Kids

Climbing Area

Small children love to climb -- often much to the chagrin of their parents. An in-home gym can include a safe space for them to climb, which also provides them healthy exercise. Foam blocks and foam play structures are good choices for small children to climb. Plastic play equipment such as small slides or small step stools are also good choices. Older preschoolers may also like a small rock-climbing wall, which you can make by screwing the climbing holds onto a wall in the room. Make sure that the area is also safe by putting down foam mats on the floor and protecting any corners or hard surfaces with foam bumpers in case of a fall.

Free Movement

Children don't necessarily need equipment to get the exercise they need. Dr. David Geller says that young children learn how their bodies work by running, jumping and exploring. Your in-home gym should include open space to allow your children to do this. Create an open space that has nothing but foam mats so that your child can run, tumble and jump without being injured. Put a radio or computer in the area so that you can play music and enjoy dancing or jumping together.

Interactive Activities

Kids get a lot of exercise through play. You can encourage them to move more by providing interactive activities that are also fun. Some items to include in your home gym are beach balls for tumbling, throwing or chasing; fabric tunnels for exploring; bubbles for chasing and popping; and a ball pit for jumping and diving. A parachute or other large piece of fabric is also great for jumping, dancing and other exercises. Any items that get kids up and moving should be welcome additions to your in-home gym.

Outdoor Activities

If you have a yard, you can extend your home gym outside as well. Some good pieces of equipment include a slide, swing set, small clubhouse, kiddie pool and water slide. Balls, hula hoops, jump ropes and other outdoor toys are also great choices for encouraging physical play. The key is to encourage children to be physically active without creating a structured environment. Physical activity should be fun.

The Best Activity Table for Toddlers

Size

Toddlers don't come in one size, so choosing an activity table that fits your toddler helps her get the most out of it. Some tables come with chairs, while others are designed for playing with while sitting or standing. In general, the Activity Table Shop suggests a table that is 13 to 17 inches high and chairs that are six to eight inches high. This makes it easy to pull up to the table and play with everything it has to offer.

Style

Activity tables come in a variety of styles, giving you plenty of options for finding the one that works best for your toddler. In general, however, one that is made of sturdy plastic or wood without sharp corners is best. These tables stand up to the wear and tear of daily use and are less likely to hurt your little one if she falls on it. It'll also hold up if she decides to stand on it and push it around the house. Parents Connect suggests an activity table that is brightly colored with thick, sturdy legs.

Activity Types

There are several types of activity tables, which means you can choose one that lets your toddler engage in her favorite things to do. A sand and water activity table is ideal for your backyard and allows your little one to build, pour and scoop to her heart's content. Specialty tables, such as those for building train tracks or playing with interlocking blocks, are perfect for toddlers who love to build. Art activity tables let your little Picasso create masterpieces. Most come with a place to keep her markers, paints and crayons and an easel for creating and displaying her work. Sensory activity tables let you fill the table with different materials, which gives her new things to do all the time because you can switch up what goes in. Try rice, beans, salt dough, packing peanuts, lacing beads or noodles. Just be sure she doesn't put them in her mouth, which could cause choking.

Safety

If you're buying a brand new activity table, chances are it's safe. However, if you are getting a second-hand version, the best one won't have any loose parts, sharp edges or small pieces, which allows your toddler to play without getting hurt. With any activity table, check it often to make sure it is in good working order. If it is broken in some way, get rid of it rather than worrying about potential injuries.

Moderate Physical Activities for Toddlers

Parade

Have a musical parade with homemade materials. Pull out old scarves with different textures, fill containers with rice or little bells and bring out old pots and wooden spoons. Put on music and have a parade. March to the beat of the music, and then choose different motor skills such as walking, jumping, twisting and galloping. If the instruments get boring, put them aside and dance along to the music.

Obstacle Course

Set up an obstacle course inside or outside. Use pillows, cardboard boxes, cushions, hula hoops, rope or whatever else you have lying around the house. Make a path that encourages climbing over, under, through, around and out. For instance, lay pool noodles across a chair to make a tunnel and set up hoops for children to jump through. An obstacle course will encourage your child to explore movement, space and materials while also developing gross motor skills and body awareness.

The Sock Game

Scatter rolled-up socks around the room. Have your child run around the room collecting them and putting them into a basket. When she’s finished, take the socks and throw them into the air again so they fall on her. Repeat until she’s bored with the game. To extend the game, when your toddler picks up a pair of socks, set the basket a couple of feet away and have her try to toss the socks into the basket. Once she masters this task, move the basket farther away. This activity will provide her with moderate physical activity and promote development of fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

Animal Actions

Playing an animal actions game only requires an open space and a little imagination. Think of the different ways in which animals move. Snakes slither, rabbits hop, birds fly and penguins strut. Call out an animal and have your child move like that animal. Show pictures of the animals so your child can connect the visual image with the movement. Take the game a step further and take your child to a park where you might see the animals he is imitating, such as frogs, ducks and birds.

Simple Exercises for Toddlers to Do at Home

Shake It Up

One of the easiest ways to exercise with your toddler is by dancing. Songs with silly lyrics or playing follow the leader with your dance moves engages and entertains toddlers. The Hokey Pokey or Where is Thumbkin, for example, help toddlers name and wiggle their digits, building vocabulary and fine motor skill development. Since dancing engages the entire body, toddlers increase coordination, strength and endurance, according to the National Dance Education Organization.

Stretch It Out

Another way to improve your toddler's balance and coordination is through stretching exercises such as yoga. Try simple stretching poses like downward dog or crescent moon. Switch to child's pose or rag doll to relax your little one at the end of a long day. Yoga focuses on breathing and balance, but remember to keep it light and fun. Poses with funny names like frog pose or ostrich pose can help to keep toddlers engaged. Yoga not only enhances flexibility and coordination, but it also helps develop a sense of calmness and concentration, according to Yoga Journal.

Run For It

Your 2-year-old is ready to follow simple instructions and since they learn through play, relays are a good way to encourage them. Fro example, you can line up three or four familiar objects and have your toddler race to get the one you call out. You can have your toddler kick balls back to you instead of carrying them or have them hop back with a stuffed animal. Toddlers develop gross motor skills through jumping, throwing and kicking, according to the National Library of Medicine. These skills are new for toddlers, so be sure to clear a safe level space for them to run.

Get Wild

Hopping like a kangaroo, crawling like a crab, slithering like a snake or waddling like a penguin can teach your child about animals while keeping them active an entertained. You can play a game of charades and have your little one guess what kind of animal you are, then have them act like their favorite animal. By 18 to 24 months, kids should be able to name animals and body parts, according to the National Library of Medicine. This activity will not only work their muscles, but also stimulate their creativity and language development.

Why Is Cheerleading a Good Activity for Kids?

Physical Activity

Cheerleading requires high levels of physical activity and therefore is a source of exercise for all who undertake this sport. It requires a mixture of physical and mental activities including dance, gymnastics and acting. The strenuous routines and workouts beforehand and the cheer routines themselves require heavy lifting, bending, running and stretching -- all of which can help your youngster build muscle, strength and stamina to help her stay in top physical form. According to the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators, "cheerleading involves skills which require the strength of football, the grace of dance and the agility of gymnastics."

Coordination

Cheerleading also helps with coordination. The moves and steps have to be precise and match or complement those of teammates. A cheerleader also has to be constantly in tune with team members to keep timing on track and prevent injury to others. The mind also must keep working in full gear to learn new steps, adjust when mistakes are made, come up with new routines and revise older ones.

Teamwork

Cheerleading is not an individual sport. It requires all members to work together and promote a unified front. This is important for the more self-centered child to learn. It also teaches sportsmanship and the importance of working together to pull off a complicated routine or victory dance. One of the most important concepts an individual can learn while engaging in cheerleading is that of trust. Team members depend on each other to be in position to catch them after they are vaulted in the air during a complicated routine or competition. Without this trust, there would be many falls and other extensive injuries as well as poor relations among team members.

Confidence and Self-Esteem

Engaging in cheerleading activities can be uplifting and very motivating. Just the act of trying to excite others about a particular sports team or highly competitive game can instill a spirit of optimism and confidence in the cheerleaders themselves. The constant repetition of the lively lyrics used are also energizing and invigorating. The opportunities to wear attractive uniforms and a little more makeup than usual can also go a long way in making your child feel like she is in the limelight. Family attendance of competitions and games will provide an activity that the entire family can attend and enjoy.