What are warm up exercises for kids and why are they important especially before running and other workouts? In addition to stretching, the are more other fun activities that will act as warm ups as well as cool downs. Read on to learn more.
Benefits of Warm Ups for Kids
What is warm up exercise or activity? A warm up usually comprise a steady increase in intensity in physical activity or a “pulse raiser” as Wikipedia puts it. What follows up is the main exercise or activity. The purpose of warming up is to get your body to a state that will enable it respond or react safely to signals from your nerves for fast and efficient action.
Warm up exercises for kids are used to prepare their body to undertake further exercises while at the same time, they help in preventing injuries to the muscles.
Cold muscles are more prone to injuries as opposed to warm ones. Muscles are warmed up by doing short, light and slow exercises at the start and then gradually varying the pace, as they further get accustomed. Moreover, warm ups psych up the children by preparing them mentally for the activities that are upcoming.
Other positive effects or benefits of warm exercises include;
- Facilitates activity of enzymes as well as hormonal balance.
- Improves heart rate thus circulation in your body
- Prevents fatigue- warm up activities promote elasticity and extensibility of your muscle fibers
- Helps you acquire much more control over your muscles
- Body temperature increment which improves elasticity of your muscles which in turn minimizes the risk of pulls and strains
Warm up Stretches
Stretches are among the most popular activities used in warming up. They involve taking deep breaths, exhaling and bending in certain angles.
Calf and hip stretch for instance is done by standing and taking a left forward step. Bending the knee in a way to keep the right heel on the floor while the right leg is straight behind.
The abdominal muscles should be kept contracted to avoid excessive back arch. The calf and hip should feel the stretch then switch the legs and repeat the same.
Back and hamstring stretching is also used in warm up. All you need is to stand with your feet together and your knees bent slightly.
You then lean forward from the waist with your arms and head hanging towards the floor. Goes hand in hand with a deep exhale as you stand slowly and bend repeatedly. With the warm up session completed, the routine should proceed to the next phase of exercises.
With the instructor aware of the targeted outcome for the exercises, the areas under scope can be conditioned or toned by particular exercises. Strength and core exercises for kids are mainly targeted since the child is still developing and much of their muscles are still developing.
They are distinct and should be separated and routinely undertaken to meet the goals laid out by the instructor. For this to be achieved rather easily, there are guidelines that serve to create.
According to Australian Sports Commission and KidsHealth.org here are some rules you or your kid should observe when stretching.
- Ensure to warm-up your body before stretching
- Breathe slowly and easy but never hold you while stretching
- Each stretch should be maintained for 10-30 seconds. If maintained for any less it will result to insufficient lengthening of the muscle while if it is maintained for longer it will have bad effects on your performance.
- The stretching should be performed prior to and after exercise.
- All muscle groups to be involved in the main exercise should be stretched.
- The stretch should be gentle and slow- avoid bouncing or stretching rapidly.
- When stretching do not do it until it feels painful. The stretch should be tender to the point of mild discomfort but never should it be to a point of pain.
- Ensure balance when stretching- the left and right sides should be engaged in equal stretches so that each of your muscles evenly prepared for activity.
More Fun Warm up Exercises for Kids
Kids love fun and warm exercises that incorporate fun is definitely one way to make more and more children participate in warming up. Competitive and funny games are normally used as warm ups for kids.
For instance Cat and Mouse, which is a competitive game that children can engage in is used as a warm up. In this game, colored bands or bibs are used. A set of 3 – 4 kids can act as the catchers (cats) and are normally sent to the far end of the play or exercise area.
The other set of kids is given the colored bands to tuck into their shorts (mice). When done, the cats have to catch as many tails as possible. This involves running after the Mice, and for the mice, running away to avoid being caught. This competitive game can be used for warm up.
Example/ List of Warm Exercises for Kids before Workout, Running & Soccer
What are the typical examples of warm up exercises for kids before working, running or playing soccer? Read on to learn more.
It is important to note some warm exercises are specific to specific activity or sport. The very basic form a warm up is to progressively increase the intensity of your particular sport. For instance, let’s say you want to run. Before running, all you need for warm up is to jog for a while then you can add a few sprints so that you can engage all fibers of your muscles.
In some cases you will need some movements that are totally unrelated to the sport or activity you will undertake. For instance before soccer, players of undertake warm up activities that are in most cases not related to soccer for example jogging, stretching etc. However, players can still dribble and pass ball back and forth as a way of warming up.
Below are more examples- a list of warm up exercises for kids and even adults
- Jump roping
- Arm windmills
- Hopping back and forth over a line
- High knees
- Walking around the gym
- Playing short movement games for example red light green light
More warm ups!
Above is a list of 10 warm up exercise designed by Norfolk Southern researchers that can help burn calories and avoid injuries.
What is the Best Warm up Exercise?
The best warm up will be determined by some of the following factors;
- The type sport.
- The level of competition.
- The age of the participants.
- The weather.
During a warm weather you will need a lesser duration for warming up compared to a cold weather. Kids at tender ages require less strenuous warm ups since their muscles are still developing. The higher the level of competition the more one will need to warm up.
An ideal warm up exercise should involve all the muscle groups and activities that are needed during the main competition, sport or training.
However always remember that the best warm up is something you can create by yourself. All you need is time, experimentation and practice. Warm up in different ways, at various intensities until you discover what works best for you. Ensure you start gradually and you engage the exact muscle group that will be stressed during the main activity.
Cool Down Exercises for Kids
Just like warming gradually before working out, you need to cool down slowly after exercise. It is not recommended that you stop abruptly after a workout, you will find out why shortly. Cool down exercises may vary depending on the type of sport or activity and they involve easy and light activities performed in a slow manner.
For instance after running, slowing down to a steady walk serves as cool down exercise. Light stretches also play an important role in cooling down
Why are cool down exercises important? When actively exercising, lactic acid is produced by the body out of the increased metabolism rates. Cool down exercises assists the kid’s body to clear up lactic acid generated. In addition to eliminating lactic acid, Cool downs aid in slowing your heart rate to a normal speed, avoiding injuries, soreness and stiffness of your muscles.
In conclusion, warm up and cool down exercises are an essential part of your workout or exercise program be it you are new or a veteran. As you have already learnt, these exercises provide you with an opportunity to improve your performance while preventing injuries.
Suggested Further Reading on Kids’ Fitness/Exercises
- Exercise for Kids- Fun, Good, Easy Exercises for Kids: Facts, Best Exercise Routines/programs
- Core Strengthening, Indoor, Abs & Lose Weight Exercises for Kids
- Exercise Equipment for Kids- Pull up Bar, Exercise Balls & Treadmills