Nothing adds to a workout quite like the smell of fresh air. Thankfully, warm weather is here again and after months of being stuck indoors because of the cold, your kids are likely itching to get outside just as much as you are.
There are a million different exercises and activities your kids can do outdoors, either on their own or as a family, like hiking, running, and swimming. While nothing can replace riding a bike, enjoying nature, or best of all, completely unstructured free play, it is important for kids to have variety in their activities, especially since so many options are available. By mixing up their activities, it not only opens them up to new things, but also helps them develop in different areas of physical fitness, including strength, endurance, balance and flexibility.
Since the jungle gym is always a popular destination when it’s time to play outside, I’ve created a quick workout that will help explore several different movements without ever leaving the playground. It’s easy enough for your kids to do on their own but can be made challenging enough for you to do it with them. The number of repetitions is just a suggestion. Feel free to put your own spin on the workout or find ways to incorporate it into existing play, like making each exercise a station along an obstacle course.
Negative push-ups are great for kids and adults who struggle keeping good form in the normal version but can be challenging even for push-ups rockstars. The negative refers to the downward part of the exercise, as you lower yourself to the ground.
1. Start in push-up position- shoulders directly over wrists, elbows tucked in, belly engaged.
2. A slowly as possible (shoot for 10 seconds) lower yourself to the ground, keeping your back straight the entire time.
3. When you get the ground, tap your knees down so you can easily get back to the starting position.
4. Repeat and aim for 10 repetitions.
Tip: Breathe out as you lower yourself down.
Negative pull-ups are the same idea as negative push-ups, focusing on the downward movement of the exercise. For those who struggle to do even a single pull-up, this is the best way to build the strength necessary to do one.
1. Start with you hands on the bar.
2. Jump (or get lifted) until your chin is above the bar at the top of the push-up position.
3. Lower yourself to the ground as slowly as possibly- shoot for 5 seconds.
4. Repeat and aim for 10 repetitions.
Balance is an essential part of almost every type of physical activity and very important for physical development. This exercise can be done on a firm surface like the sidewalk, or for more of a challenge, on something slightly unstable like the bridge in the picture or a grass lawn.
1. Start standing nice and tall, shoulders back but relaxed, belly engaged.
2. Slowly lift one foot off the ground and hold for as long as possible.
3. To make it more difficult, lift your leg high enough so that you knee is above your hip, keeping your toes pointed forward.
4. For even more of a challenge, see if you can lift your arms all the way over your head.
5. Hold for 30 seconds or as long as possible. Turn it into a competition by seeing who can hold it the longest.
Tip: Think about pulling your belly button towards your spine to help keep your balance.
This exercise works both balance and strength and can be done on any step or on a bench.
1. Start with one foot completely on the step or bench, standing tall, belly engaged.
2. Pressing into the foot on the step or bench, lift off of the back foot, standing all the way up, shoulders pulled back.
3. Try to hold this position for 5 seconds without tapping the lifted foot on the bench or ground.
4. Repeat 10 times all on one foot and then repeat on the other side.
Plank with Knee Taps
This exercise helps kids focus on keeping an engaged belly while moving, an essential part of part of almost every exercise.
1. Start in a push-up position, shoulders stacked over wrists, inside of the elbows facing forward, belly engaged.
2. Slowly bring your right knee to tap your right elbow.
3. With control, step your right foot back.
4. Alternating sides, repeat 10 times with each leg.
Tip: Engage the muscles in your legs to take pressure out of your arms and shoulders.
Steve Ettinger is a kids fitness expert and children’s book author. He travels around the country speaking at schools about fitness and making workout videos for kids. Learn more at www.SteveEttinger.com.