As adults, we know that strength training impacts many physical attributes. The same goes for kids.
Rosanna Trigg, founder of The Yard and Gym with Me, shares that strength training improves a child’s posture and bone density, builds skeletal support and aids athletic performance. This, she says, translates to greater flexibility, speed, balance and agility.
Trigg also notes that it’s good to put your little ones in a gym when they’re in the early stages of movement exploration because “from crawling, rolling and walking, your child should have a soft and safe environment that encourages them to explore their abilities without getting hurt, even when they falls.”
Trigg’s own children learned this lesson well; her older son, Cuali, 2, can now do forward rolls and handstands against a wall. “He had been exploring, climbing on things and finding his feet, balance and coordination since he was born,” she shares.
“From crawling, rolling and walking, your child should have a soft and safe environment that encourages him to explore his abilities without getting hurt.”
Just remember that not every child should to go at Cuali’s rate of development. In fact, Trigg notes that parents have to be careful as every child is different, and we need to be “mindful of the important growth phases that children of particular ages go through”.
For example, between the ages of 8 and 10, children experience high growth rates with softened growth plates in their bones that can be susceptible to injury with overuse and repetitive impact work, Trigg explains.
Read on for simple activities you can do with your tot to improve their muscle strength!
Play to develop their strength
Keep in mind your child’s age and age-appropriate skill-sets when encouraging physical activity. For instance, 2-year-olds should be able to walk and run well; 3-year-olds are better with their coordination and may be able to balance on one foot or kick a ball.
Simple and fun exercises like these below can help your little one get moving, build some core strength, and most importantly, have a good time:
- Imitate animal movements
Hop like a kangaroo, squat and waddle like a duck, or slither around on the floor like a snake. This activity develops your child’s coordination and balance.
- Walk the tight rope
Get a 5–10m length of rope and stretch it out in a line. Have your child walk along the rope line while balancing a bean bag or soft toy on their head. Up the fun factor by telling them to pretend it is a tightrope or that there may be sharks in the water — so don’t step off the rope!
- Be Superman!
Lie your child on their tummy on the floor and help them lift their arms up off the ground as high as they can, so that their upper chest comes up, too. Next ask them to try lifting their legs up at the same time as their arms. You can raise the challenge by giving them stickers to paste on a wall while they’re in that position.
- Row, row, row your boat
Sit facing your tot and hold each other’s hands. Rock your bodies back and forth, encouraging the child to pull and push against your movement, while singing Row, Row, Row Your Boat. It’s almost like doing sit-ups (with assistance)!
- Obstacle course
The little ones love this. Save old cardboard boxes, use cushions, inflatable swimming tubes or any materials you can find around your home to create an obstacle course. Get a digital timer (or use the one on your phone) and give junior a time to beat!