Rikki Heiken is the owner of the popular pilates studio The Sweat Studio. As a mom and fitness expert, she believes in the importance of daily movement for children. Now, Rikki is taking her fitness knowledge and sharing her favorite family-friendly moves to get kids moving. 

No matter your child’s age, gender, favorite superhero or princess, one thing is for certain: children love to move. They’re on the go even before they can even walk, for as long as we’ll allow them to be – and this is a very good thing (with the exception of getting them to sit for a meal)!

According to recent CDC guidelines on exercise for children, preschool-aged children (ages 3 through 5 years) should be physically active throughout the day for growth and development. Literally all day long – which makes a lot of sense for their energy levels in comparison to how exhausted we are at the end of the day

As children age, they tend to slow down as their attention span grows and matures. Children and adolescents ages 6 through 17 years should do 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity each day, including daily aerobic – and activities that strengthen bones (like running or jumping) – 3 days each week, and that build muscles (like climbing or doing push-ups) – 3 days each week. If you think about it, this still seems like a lot considering kids this age are in school most of their day and then bogged down with schoolwork thereafter. 

As an owner of a fitness studio and a Pilates instructor for almost a decade, there is nothing I love more than engaging my own daughters in moving their bodies. They know that it’s my job to help other people feel healthy and strong, so that’s part of my job that I don’t feel guilty bringing home. Over the years, friends, family, and clients have all asked for ways they can teach their children to do more exercise at home and I’ve put together a few family friendly moves that everyone in your home can do together:

All you need is a clear space, (indoors or out) and a mat or a towel to ensure that no one is slipping and sliding across the floor. 

Warm-Up

Ask your kids to get up and clean their rooms? Probably not gonna happen. Ask them to run around for a minute or two or do some jumping jacks? That’s a different story.

Have your child jog in place or do jumping jacks for 30 seconds to gently warm up their bodies before starting their Pilates exercises.

Plank Holds

While some adults may dread this part of their workout class, planks are a great way for kids to test their strength and endurance. Not only will it aid in improving your child’s core strength, it will contribute to better posture when done regularly.

Here’s how to do it:

First, make sure your child is on their mat or towel. Then have them get in plank position on their hands or forearms, ensuring that their backs are straight and feet are hip-width apart as if they were going to do a push-up. The key here is to have the kids hold their hips up so that they don’t dip below shoulder height. Have them hold this position for as long as they can, or until their arms get too shaky to hold up.

Bonus points if you set a timer and let the kids turn their planks into a challenge!

Single Leg Stretch

A favorite for both my clients and my kids, single leg stretches not only feel good, they make a huge impact, too! 

Here’s how to do it:

Have your child lay on their back and bring one leg up about 90 degrees.  Holding the back of the knee or higher, they will need to gently pull the leg toward the body to stretch the back of the leg. Repeat this movement on each leg.This exercise is also great for strengthening the core and even helps improve flexibility. 

Not to mention, if your kids play sports, they’ll get a good stretch in and be ready for more activity the next day without feeling sore.

Roll-Up

I love this exercise for kids because it truly teaches them to focus on each little movement their body makes, while fostering an understanding of the spine. 

Here’s how to do it:

Have your child lay on their back and place their feet flat on the floor with knees bent. Their arms should be extended up to the sky over their shoulders. Once they’re in position, have them tuck their chin to their chest and start to roll up one vertebrae at a time keeping their feet planted on the floor. If they cannot keep feet planted, take the fingertips behind the knees and gently pull to lift to seated position. Repeat this 10-15 times.

This is another great core exercise and will also help them find their balance while improving posture and flexibility.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is, any and all movement not only feels great for kids, it helps their little bodies in so many ways. For more information about how to get your kids active or to join in on our Pilates classes for adults, visit us online, on Facebook, or on Instagram.

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