December 19, 2013
Games are a great way to combine interval training, motor skills and fun all at one time. In fact, games are one of the most effective ways to incorporate all aspects of fitness training into a playful and enjoyable atmosphere.
Kids that have been sitting at a desk for hours need to move and get the blood pumping. Incorporating games will integrate the basic fundamental skills such as kicking, jumping, throwing and catching that all kids should practice. Plus, they improve their cardiovascular fitness by running around, and increase muscular strength, balance and coordination by reacting to their surroundings and engaging in play.
You can even turn your warm-up into a game! Using cones, jump ropes, hula-hoops, balls and agility ladders provides a great dynamic warm-up for the body and allows kids to use a variety of muscles and movements. It’s far more beneficial for kids to integrate balance, coordination, strength and fun into the warm-up before engaging in a game or training session. The activation of the neuromuscular system and cardiovascular system this type of warm-up provides is ideal before more aggressive activity.
The following obstacle course warm-up incorporates every aspect of physical fitness and will prepare kids for any type of activity whether it’s a quick game of tail tag, kick ball or basketball. Have fun!
- Set an objective for each station so that each child has a goal to reach while performing the warm-up exercises. Kids love to know what they should shoot for! It makes them work harder and stay more engaged during the exercise.
- Time each station so that participants change stations at the same time and you control the flow of the warm-up. (Example: 1 minute at each station and 30 seconds to change stations)
Station 1: Agility Ladder
Perform jumping jacks, quick steps and hop scotch.
Objective: Complete all three exercises twice on the agility ladder.
Benefit: Increases heart rate, improves lower-body strength, balance and coordination, and stimulates the neuromuscular system.
Station 2: Hula Hoop
Objective: Try and keep the hoop from touching the ground for 30 consistent circles around the waist. See how many times you can reach 30 consistent circles.
Benefit: Strengthens abdominals and back muscles, improves coordination and rhythm, and increases heart rate.
Station 3: Medicine Ball Squat and Chest Throw
Squat while holding the ball upright in front of the chest and quickly come out of the squat and chest throw the ball high up and out in front (like a rainbow). Run to the ball and repeat.
Objective: Try and complete 20 Chest Throws. (If you have a small space, keep changing directions back and forth and throw the ball higher versus longer.)
Benefit: Increases strength, power and heart rate.
Station 4: Jump Rope
Objective: Skip with the jump rope for 50 skips continuously.
Benefits: Increases heart rate, lower leg strength, rhythm and coordination, and stimulates the neuromuscular system.
Station 5: Cone Shuttle Run
Set up two cones about 10 yards apart. Run from one cone to the other and back as fast as possible.
Objective: Complete 6 round trips down and back at least twice. Rest in between. It’s fun to time this one if possible and see if participants can beat their original times.
Benefit: Increases speed, agility and strength, and improves cardiovascular endurance.
Anna Renderer has her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Clinical Exercise Physiology from Northeastern University. She is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer and certified Youth Fitness Specialist with the International Youth and Conditioning Association (IYCA). Anna is the co-founder and CEO of KFIT Health (www.kidfitnessandhealth.com), developing high quality nutrition and fitness education for children and their parents. She is also the host for POPSUGAR Fitness TV, sharing her fitness expertise with thousands of online viewers and interviewing other health professionals. She has developed and starred in fitness videos, Jumpstart Your Health and SHED 2 WED. Anna is currently the Fitness Director at Burn 60 in LA. She specializes in weight loss and optimal performance training. She has developed over 50 educational online fitness videos seen on www.fitsugar.com and is passionate about educating and instructing others on ways to stay fit!