Callisthenics for children: 5 animal-style exercises kids will love
Should your child be doing calisthenics? The answer is yes, yes, yes. From bunny jumps to bear crawls, this fun workout for kids will help build natural strength in little ones.
Ever feel like it’s harder to do movements that were once simple as a child? Jumping, pulling, pushing, twisting, rolling, balancing, squatting, cartwheeling, hanging. For youngsters, it comes naturally and playfully. Whether they’re clambering through the obstacle course at the park or jumping on a bouncy castle, it’s an effortless interaction between their bodies and the world they live in.
While the concept of calisthenics can seem rigorous and boot-camp-like, it’s actually these kinds of movements we’re talking about. Put simply, calisthenics is a form of exercise which uses the weight of the body to build muscle - push-ups, pull-ups, squats, sit-ups and so on. Children need to stay active on a regular basis to avoid chronic movement deficiencies in later life: calisthenics will help their strength, mobility, flexibility, agility and endurance.
If you’re a parent, you’ll know how difficult it is to get your child to eat a carrot - never mind do a pull-up. It’s important not to force them to do the exercises, but encourage it and lead by example. Better they get into the natural flow of it now than try and regain the body strength and endurance as they get older. Little ones love to use their imagination when they play, so here are some fun, animal-style exercises you can practice to get them into the swing of things:
1. Bunny jumps
Benefits: Strengthens legs, builds balance and boosts cardio endurance.
How to do them:
● Stand with feet together, keeping the back straight.
● Bend the knees and bring both hands to the head, fingers dropped forward like “rabbit’s ears”.
● Jump both feet in time to music, going forward, back, and side to side. Switch it up with hopping on alternative feet.
2. Bear crawls
Benefits: Strengthens the arms, shoulders and chest, boosts endurance and improves total core stability.
How to do them:
● Get on all fours with your hands shoulder-width apart and feet behind you - hips raised in the air.
● Look forward and crawl along the floor, starting with your right hand and left foot. Follow with the left hand and right foot.
● Take about six steps and then turn around and bear crawl back.
3. Mad cat
Benefits: Improves posture and balance, strengthens the spine and neck.
● Get down on the hands and knees with the back in a neutral, slightly sagging position.
● Breathing in and contracting the stomach muscles, arch the back by rounding it as much as possible.
● Hold for 40 seconds and release with a big “meowwwww”.
4. Duck walks
Benefits: Builds strength in lower back and legs and develops a greater sense of balance.
● Place feet slightly apart, bending the knees into a squat position.
● Place the arms on the inside of the legs, holding onto the left ankle with the left hand and the right ankle with the right hand.
● In this position, walk backwards.
5. Crab walks
Benefits: Strengthens hamstrings, triceps, abs, glutes and core. A great one for days at the seaside!
● Sit with both feet flat on the floor.
● Place your hands flat on the floor and slightly behind the body.
● With knees bent, lift the hips off the floor and walk backwards.
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