Like adults, it is important for children to participate in some type of physical activity daily. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, children should do 60 minutes of exercise everyday.
Thanks to modern technology, children are spending more time in front of television and computers than ever before. More time in front of the TV equates to less time for physical activity.
This is slowly becoming a national dilemma in America. The National Center for Chronic Disease and Health Prevention advises that childhood obesity has tripled over the past 30 years.
Obese children are more likely to be at risk for cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure.
The only solution to this growing problem is exercise. One of the most effective ways to convince children to exercise is to make it fun as well as challenging, and the Swiss ball exercises can be real fun.
The Swiss Ball
The Swiss ball, otherwise known as the therapy ball, provides an entertaining workout for children. The origin of the Swiss ball dates back to 1960. These balls were first manufactured in Europe as toys, but were quickly adopted by a Swiss physical therapist for use in rehabilitation settings.
The Swiss therapist realized that the ball could assist in exercising the often neglected stabilizing muscles of the body. This in turn helped improve patients balance and stability.
Swiss Ball Exercise Benefits for Children
Your children will reap many benefits from using the Swiss ball. Regular exercise on the ball assists children with the following activities:
- Build muscle strength by increasing core development. Core muscles are made up of deep abdominal and back muscles. These stabilizing muscles are used in just about every movement that the body makes.
- It improves posture and balance by activating the child’s trunk muscles. These muscles in the abs, back and hips are responsible for maintaining good posture.
- It prevents injury. A strong core is one of the best defenses against future back pain. When these trunk muscles are actively engaged, they help stabilize your spine.
- Improve your child’s behavior. When children work out, they often are less stressed and feel better about themselves. This usually results in better sleep at night and increased concentration in class.
Swiss Ball Exercise Routine
Choose a Swiss ball that is applicable to your child’s size as well as one that is just right for you. Do this routine with your child. After all, a family that exercises together stays together.
- Ball Sit – Start this exercise seated on the ball with your feet on the floor, shoulder width apart and your arms hung at your sides. Keeping your abdomen tight, raise one leg off the floor and then lower it. Repeat this movement with the other leg. To increase the difficulty of this exercise, raise both hands straight up over your head, while straightening your legs. Complete 20 repetitions of this exercise, and remember to maintain good posture throughout the entire movement.
- Wall Squats – Start by standing with your back against the wall and with the ball between your back and the wall. With feet shoulder width apart, perform a squat by lowering your hips towards the ground. Once your thighs are parallel to the ground, hold this position for 5 seconds, and then stand back up. Remember to maintain good posture and don’t extend your knees past your toes during the entire range of motion. Perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
- Trunk Rotation – Start in a seated position on the floor with your knees bent. Hold the ball straight out in front of you and lean back slightly. While in this position, rotate the ball from side to side. Perform 3 sets of 5 to 10 repetitions, depending on your child’s strength.
- Assisted Sit-Up – Have your child lay on top of the ball with feet out in front. Hold your child’s legs for stability and have them sit up towards you. Your child should perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
- Push-Ups – Start this exercise face down on top of the ball. The ball should be positioned between your knees and hips. Keep your hands on the floor and in front of the ball and then lower your chest towards the floor by bending your elbows. Perform 3 sets of 5 to 10 repetitions, depending on your and your child’s strength.
Do this routine 3 to 4 times a week with your child. Rest a day between workouts to let the muscles recuperate. This parent and child Swiss ball exercise routine will enhance your child’s physical fitness and will also be an effective bonding experience for you and your child.