In the second edition of this series, Merrithew® Instructor Trainers Bob and Wendy Andersen share some of their top exercises to keep kids active while teaching them to move mindfully.
Play is so important for kids and provides a number of physical and mental health benefits, but not all kids are eager to jump off the couch when they hear ‘exercise’. Here are four ways to adapt Merrithew programming to make mindful movement fun playtime for kids, rather than exercise.
Kids respond well to things they can associate with, so naming exercises after animals is one of the simplest ways to get them engaged in play. Incorporate functional movement patterns by having them move like seals, swans, bears or crabs. Oftentimes, they’ll get more imaginative than you in the movements, which makes things even more challenging physically and proprioceptively.
Add some props
This is always a great motivator for kids. Bouncy balls, weighted balls and soft balls are always a favorite because they can make exercises fun while providing additional challenges. You can add different variations of the movements and then ask the kids which ones were easier and harder. Other popular props are the BOSU® and Flying Foam Disks to challenge balance; where you can have them sit in a Teaser position while they pretend they’re statues. Simon Says is also fun way to challenge their cognitive thinking and normally ends in lots of laughter.
Make an obstacle course
Who doesn’t love a good obstacle course? They can be tons of fun with props and stations for the kids to do different exercises. For example, you can use Foam Rollers™ to make a bridge they can walk or crawl under, the Pilates Edge and BOSUs can act as pathways that challenge their balance and Agility Ladders and Agility Hoops are great for challenging coordination.
Tell the kids to grab a friend and toss balls back and forth while doing roll ups at the same time, or have them sit back-to-back for seated twists while passing the ball—working those core muscles at the same time! Plus, playtime with friends encourages development of social skills like cooperation.
What are some ways you get the kids to engage in play? Let us know in the comments!