Your Health

ABCs of fitness

Tips to help you and your kids stay active at home

ABCs of fitness

Winnipeg Health Region
Wave, September / October 2014

Children learn something every day.

It’s back-to-school time, and kids are adjusting to new routines, new courses and new teachers.

That means it is also a great time to introduce your kids to new ways of keeping healthy and fit.

One option is to create a home fitness circuit. The idea is to set aside certain times during the week for you and your kids to work out together by performing a series of eight activities in the form of a circuit. Think of it as a home phys-ed class.

The trick to making this idea work, of course, is to find things to do that you and your kids will actually enjoy.

Few kids, for example, will choose to spend their time doing 20 to 30 minutes of endurance exercise at one time. That can get boring in a hurry. But many kids do like to play hard or run fast for short periods of time - 30 to 60 seconds - and then take a break before repeating the activity.

Alternating vigorous activity with rest periods can help kids to perform better at these activities. Shorter fitness activities also allow children to see and feel improvements in how they carry out the exercises, improving their self-esteem and challenging them to improve that skill. The bottom line is kids want to have fun, and it is possible have fun while improving their health and fitness.

In organizing a home fitness circuit, it is important to incorporate the components of fitness that are essential for a growing child. Known as the ABCs of Fitness, they are:

A for agility -
The ability to move and change direction of the body quickly while under control.

B for balance -
The ability to stay steady on your feet as you perform an activity.

C for coordination -
The ability to use different parts of the body smoothly and effectively.

S for strength -
The ability of the muscle to exert force to overcome resistance. Examples of strength are lifting up a heavy backpack, performing body weight exercises like pushups or squats, or using weights to build muscle.
The following is a three-step plan for creating a fitness circuit you can create at home.

Getting organized

The first step to creating a home fitness circuit is to collect the equipment that will be used in the activities. In this case we are using:

  • Skipping rope
  • Bean bags
  • Cones (could use bean bags if needed)
  • Hula hoops
  • Chair

Warming up

Every fitness circuit session needs to begin with a warm-up. The warm-up should be at least five minutes to get the heart rate up and to warm up the muscles for movement. Here are a few ways to get warmed up:

  • • Skipping (one minute). If you don’t have a skipping rope, just do little hops and pretend.
  • Jumping jacks (one minute).
  • Jogging on the spot (one minute).
  • Mountain climbers (one minute).
    Assume a pushup position with your arms straight and body in straight line from head to ankles. Bring left knee in towards chest then place foot back on the ground behind you. Switch legs and repeat.
  • Butt kicks (one minute). From a standing position, kick your feet back toward your butt so heels hit your butt each time.

Let the fun begin

Using the equipment you have gathered, set up eight  separate exercise stations as outlined below. Complete the circuit in order and perform each station for 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat the circuit two or three times. This circuit can be switched up with different activities. Try to perform the circuit with your kids two to three times a week to keep them engaged and active.

Station 1: Cone Weaving (Agility)

Set up cones or bean bags or anything you can find as markers in a staggered pattern. Have kids weave in and out of cones.

Station 2:  Balancing Partner Catch (Balance)

Stand on one foot and toss a bean bag to your partner 10 times. Switch feet and repeat. Don’t have a bean bag? Use a light ball or a pair of rolled up socks.

Station 3:  Bean Bag Toss (Co-ordination)

Set up hoops on floor at different distances. Have the kids toss the bean bags in the hoops from a starting point. Don’t have hula hoops? Use large bowls or buckets.

Station 4:  Sit to Stand (Strength)

Have kids squat down to sit in the chair and then stand up quickly without using hands for support.

Station 5:  Shuttle Runs (Agility)

Place cones/bean bags at different distances in a straight line. Kids start behind the first cone/bean bag then run to the next cone and back to starting position. Each time kids run to next cone up the line and back to starting position. Try to have kids do the activity as quickly as possible.

Station 6:  Walk the Line (Balance)

Lay a skipping rope on the floor and have kids walk the line trying to stay balanced on the skipping rope. No skipping rope? Lay out some masking tape.

Station 7:  Stepping Beans (Co-ordination)

Place bean bags on ground in a staggered pattern. Have kids hop from one
bean bag to the next.

Station 8:  Plank (Strength)

Have kids in the pushup position with forearms on the floor to support their weight. Keeping body aligned from head to ankles, they will hold the position for a set amount of time. Remember to tell kids to keep their butt down in line with the rest of their body and contract their stomach muscles. Breathing is also important. Remind them to breathe through the movement. If kids are having a hard time holding that position they can also drop knees to the floor to complete the exercise.

Erin Patton is a physical activity promotion co-ordinator with the Winnipeg Health Region.


About Wave

Wave is published six times a year by the Winnipeg Health Region in cooperation with the Winnipeg Free Press. It is available at newsstands, hospitals and clinics throughout Winnipeg, as well as McNally Robinson Books.

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