The following fitness trends offer fun ways to exercise for kids as young as 5 years old.
Kids like having fun when they attempt physical activities. It may be easier for them to get active if you allow them to find their groove, says Zumba instructor Sonwabo Bomvana.
He says dance classes are ideal for kids aged 5 and older, as they can jam to their favourite music while getting fit.
“Classes feature age-appropriate moves and music designed to stimulate mental activity and improve flexibility, such as contemporary, pantsula or gumboot dance.” He suggests fun activities to avoid boredom.
Gyms not for adults only
Gone are the days of kids being limited to the little playroom while their parents sweat in the gym.
Mary Mutlanyane, Momentum wellness ambassador, says mixing exercise and play is a great way for parents and children to work out.
She says more yoga studios are offering classes that you and your child can do together to stretch and relax, while physical endurance sports such as soccer and netball can help adults and kids get fit.
“While your kids are practising or playing a match, rally the other moms and dads together and go for a jog around the field or court. This weekly workout is a great way to burn some calories. Let your fitness tracker notch up some points; you don’t have to sit on the sidelines feeling bored,” she says.
She also recommends doing fun activities with children, such as walking dogs, as another way of getting fit.
Glenn Joselowitz, co-founder of The Kids Gym in Cape Town, says children are no longer as active as they used be because of technology.
“It is important for kids to get physical education and be taught about healthy lifestyles while they are young so that as they grow, being active becomes a lifestyle.”
While karate is beneficial for children’s fitness, there are more benefits to it.
According to a recent study conducted by the University of California, practising martial arts has helped to reduce theft, vandalism, and physical and verbal aggression in children aged 6 to 18.
Lindsay Morgan, a remedial teacher and qualified children’s yoga instructor, says yoga has been proven to assist in the reduction of stress and encourages better sleep.
She says over-exposure to too much information and stimulus before children’s brains are fully developed can make it difficult for them to cope.
“Yoga enhances children’s concentration by promoting mindfulness. It teaches them to focus on what is happening right now.”
Not only does it boost children’s self-esteem, but yoga also teaches little ones to accept and express their feelings appropriately, and learn tolerance.
It also helps children to cope better under stressful situations.
Although, traditionally, ballet was not used for health reasons, nowadays this form of dance is increasingly practised as a form of exercise.
Debbie Calder, from Just Move Dance and Fitness Studio in Cape Town, says ballet is an excellent activity for children because it does not only promote exercise, but helps children with life skills such as discipline, musicality, rhythm and confidence.
She says ballet involves physical strength, agility, and helps children to remember different positions and pathways of movement. It also helps improve concentration as well as balancing, co-ordination and flexibility.
“At a young age, ballet involves more musicality, rhythm, balance and nurturing a general love of movement.
As one gets older, ballet becomes increasingly more physical and therefore requires a lot of discipline, fitness and strength,” said Calder.
Use the jungle gym
Mutlanyane says the jungle gym in a park can also be used for doing sit-ups and push-ups.
“Pushing your child on the swing is a great exercise for adults, and you can lean against the side of the slide to do squats while pushing your child.
“Pull-ups on rungs, if there are any, and using the park bench for balance during leg raises are all great options.
If your children are slightly older you can even do a race together,” she said.