Who says fitness can’t be fun?
“The important thing about fitness is finding a way to make it meaningful to the individual,” says Chris Lucido, a physical therapist at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. “Children are not typically interested in performing sets or repetition of a task in order to promote a healthy lifestyle. Rather, game or activity-based exercise is a great way to make fitness meaningful to your child.”
One benefit to game or activity-based exercise is that it allows children to focus less on the exercise being achieved, and more on the goal of the game or activity. “The reinforcement from the game helps provide more immediate gratification than simply exercising, and this ‘pay off’ will hold children’s attention for longer periods,” notes Lucido.
The benefits are pretty obvious from a fitness perspective, also. “If young children can identify exercise that is enjoyable and meaningful to them, they’re more likely to stick with it over a longer period of time.”
Here’s a fun way to use a common household game you may remember from your own childhood.
UNO WITH A TWIST
What you’ll need:
- A deck of UNO® cards
1. Assign an activity to each color card. For example,
- Yellow — sit-ups
- Blue — push-ups
- Green — planks
- Red — jumping jack
Mix up the activities and pick things you and your family enjoys — hula hooping, jumping rope, cartwheels, etc. You can also vary the activities based on varying abilities.
Find variations that work best for your child’s needs. For example, if a child has arm/hand limitations, focus on tasks that involve the legs,” suggests Lucido. “The primary goal should be that the activity is fun and achievable for your child.”
2. Start with the deck face down. One person draws a card and has to do as many of the activity as the number on the card. For example, if you draw a Blue 2, you have to do two push-ups. If you draw an action card (like a wild card, reverse or skip) you have to do 10 of the exercise of your choice.
3. Take turns drawing cards and keep playing as long as you’d like.
You can switch up the activities that correspond to the colors each time you play, to keep things fresh.
It’s a great way to get creative and have fun while getting fit!
Inspired by a game posted on Creative Southern Home.
Other Camp Little Victors exercise and fitness activities: