Normal daily activities, collective sports and simple games are usually enough of the physical activity for most children. However, sometimes a child needs more exercise, due to a medical condition or to obesity, in which case going to a gym is required. Not all gym exercises are suitable for children but there are also those that are both fun and effective for their needs.
Strength training and cardio exercise increase stamina, fitness and endurance, help build stronger bones and muscles, improve flexibility and boost the self-confidence.
It is important to remember that children need professional supervision in the gym, for example a fitness instructor specialized in children.
Upper body exercise
Strength training can involve dumbbells or body weight. Body weight exercise are the best way to start, and they may include push-ups, planks and pull-ups. As the child’s strength develops and increases, he or she can start with pieces of equipment, for example a medicine ball, resistance band and light dumbbells. Bicep curls, lateral raises, shoulder presses and similar are some of the exercises that are suitable for children. Most machines in the gym are not suitable for children.
As for the dynamics of the exercise, the workout is best if consisting of high number of repetitions with lightweight equipment.
Lower body exercise
The best lower body exercise for children includes squats and lunges. Those are easy exercises that do not require any special equipment and can be done even at home. However, it is recommended to supervise the child while exercising, because improper execution of these exercises can lead to back or knee injuries.
Later the child can add medicine ball or light hand weights to squats and lunges, to increase the intensity of the exercise. Wall sits are also efficient, especially if done with weights and medicine ball.
It is also very important for the child to do abdominal and back exercises, because they are vital in gaining proper posture and in providing enough support for the spine as the child grows.
Cardiovascular exercise is also important, especially for children who have body weight problems. If regular kids activities, like playing, running, riding bikes and skating are not enough, the child can do cardio in the gym as well, using treadmill, stationary bicycle and elliptical machine.
Children need at least 60 minutes of aerobic and cardiovascular activity each day, which can be achieved by combining outdoor activities, sports and gym.