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Mindful Movement for Kids: 3 exercises to help your kids release stress, improve focus and mind-body awareness

Exercise and movement breaks are so important for kids that they can actually improve math scores, one study found.

The 2015 study published in the Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport looked at how 5-minute, 10-minute or 20-minute exercise breaks can affect 9- to 12-year-olds’ math performance. It turns out math scores were higher after the 10-minute and 20-minute classroom exercise breaks compared with their regular sedentary lesson.

As children head back to school this fall, or resume online learning, exercise and mindful movement breaks will be that much more important to help them focus, release stress and find comfort in a new routine.

STOTT PILATES® Certified Instructor Rebecca McLean, who specializes in Pilates for kids, athletes and pre and postnatal clients, created this easy sequence of exercises, including an intentional breathing practice, squats and planks, to help you get your kids moving mindfully at home, outdoors, or in between study sessions.

It’s easy to modify these exercises and add on layers to make them more complex and dynamic. Encourage your kids to explore, be playful and use their imaginations to make their exercise break fun and something they look forward to.

According to the U.S. Department of Health’s Physical Activity Guidelines, school-aged youth (from 6 to 17-years-old) should do a total of 60-minutes or more of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity per day.

Preschool-aged children (from 3 to 5-years-old) should move and play throughout the day in both structured and unstructured activities, with the physical activity benchmark being at least three hours a day. Some suggested activities include: tag, playing on the playground, climbing, tricycle or bicycle riding, swimming, hopping, skipping, jumping, throwing and catching.

What are the benefits of regular physical activity for kids and youth?

  • Improved bone health
  • Improved weight status
  • Improved cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness
  • Improved cardiometabolic health
  • Improved cognition
  • Reduced risk of depression

Source: U.S. Department of Health Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans

What makes mindful movement particularly beneficial for young people?

Bec McLean instructing Pilates for Kids

Movement is good for the body and the mind. Moving well– with intention and focus— can multiply those benefits. The idea of mindfulness, of creating a mind-body connection, means being present in the moment, creating a connection with the body without distractions. Mindful movement combines the idea of awareness and the act of motion. Becoming aware of our own physical state, and how we can improve it, will take us to greater levels of performance and activity, whether we are competing, growing up or growing old, playing, or coping with life’s challenges.

How do you plan to keep your kids fit and active in September? Let us know on social @Merrithew!

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