The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends children get at least one hour of physical activity each day for good health. During the winter months, kid often fall short of this recommendation because they are cooped up inside for days at a time. Exercise is vital for children because it reduces the risk of:
- sleep apnea
- joint problems
- bone problems
- high cholesterol
- heart disease
- liver problems
Exercise also boosts children’s self-esteem, helps them sleep better, and makes them happier overall. When kids don’t get outside to run and play regularly, their excess energy gets bottled-up inside. Eventually, all that pent-up energy will have to come out. Do you really want to be on the receiving end when this happens?
For sanity’s sake, help the youngsters in your care get the exercise they need to thrive with these creative indoor activities.
Movement Games and Dancing Activities
Games like musical chairs and Simon says can help children get plenty of exercise. When you play musical chairs, opt for upbeat tunes; this will encourage kids to move faster so they get a more intense workout. To make a game of Simon says more challenging, give instructions that will make kids work up a sweat. For instance, you could say, “Simon says, flap your arms like a bird” or “Simon says, do 10 jumping jacks.”
Other fun movement activities include scarf dancing to classical grooves, and freestyle dancing to fast paced music. These activities will not only get those little hearts pumping, they’ll help kids hone their listening skills, teach them how to follow directions, and teach them about rhythm and tempo.
Indoor Portable Play Equipment
Portable indoor play equipment such as hula hoops, tumble mats and jump ropes can help youngsters get plenty of exercise and burn off extra energy. When children hula hoop, they are constantly moving, so they get a good cardiovascular workout. Rolling and tumbling on mats, and jumping rope requires kids to push against their own body weight, so they build muscle and bone strength.
If your childcare classroom is equipped with a DVD player, you can pop in an exercise video and turn your classroom into a mini-workout studio. An age-appropriate exercise video is a great way to get kids’ metabolisms fired up, and help them get rid of pent-up energy. You can visit your local library and check-out child-centered exercise videos for free.
When kids don’t have a way to burn off excess energy, it not only puts them at risk for health problems, it can drive you batty. Portable indoor play equipment, movement games, exercise videos and activities that involve music can help children get plenty of exercise when it’s too cold to go outside.