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7-minute workout for kids

The Benefits of the 7-Minute Workout for Kids

 

 

 

In May 2013, the New York Times reported on a research-based high-intensity workout for adults that lasts only 7-minutes! It boasts 12 exercises that only last 30 seconds each, with little to no equipment involved. It sounds too good to be true, but there is quite a bit of exercise science to back up the findings. High-intensity interval training, which is the basis of this workout, is a form of endurance training.

Needless to say, I’ve tried out the 7-minute workout myself. It is a pretty tough 7 minutes. These exercises are meant to be hard. But they are also over after 7 minutes.  As a pediatric physical therapist, I wondered if the 7-minute workout could be modified for kids.

So is the 7-minute workout something you can do with your kids?

Of course! Intensive endurance training has been proven effective in kids as young as 8 years old. That said, I have also taken bits and pieces of the workout and used them as part of exercise program for kids as young as 5 years old. There are components of the 12 exercises that work on more than just muscle and cardiovascular endurance.

Here is a  break down of each exercise in the 7-minute workout and why they are part of a pediatric physical therapist’s repertoire:

1) Jumping Jacks: Kids as young as 5 years old should be able to perform jumping jacks with proper technique. This is an exercise that works on total body coordination, motor planning, and endurance.

2) Wall sit: This is a great way to strengthen the hip and trunk. A lot of children I see have gait deviations related to weakness in their thigh and hip muscles. They also have weakness in their large muscles that are needed for postural control. Modified (less intense) versions of a wall sit can help work on muscles they need for bigger movements such as running, walking, and jumping.

3) Push-ups: A typically developing 6 year old should be able to do 8 push-ups in 30 seconds. Working on push-ups with proper form teach correct use of abdominal muscles and postural muscles in the upper trunk.

4) Abdominal crunch: Doing sit-ups is an obvious measurement of abdominal/trunk strength in children. It is part of many school-aged fitness tests (read about the FitnessGram here). A typically developing 5 year old is able to do at least 1-3 sit-ups without having to use compensations such as pulling up with the arms. Abdominal muscles are important not only for posture, but for the development of balance and ball skills.

5) Step-up onto chair: This is a big muscle group exercise. Steps of different heights can be used depending on age and ability. Often times, the number of repetitions a child can do is not the most important thing. What matters more is the quality of movements. Being able to step-up and down using either leg equally, being able to step-up without using hands, and being able to keep hips/knees in neutral alignment are all the things we look for in a typically developing child. This exercise will help build strength, symmetry, and lower body alignment so your little one can do age-appropriate skills such as stair climbing and jumping.

6) Squat: Whether a child does squats with hands supported or free-standing, squats work on large muscles such as the glutes and the core. In children who walk on their toes, I also have them work on playing and jumping in the squat position. It stretches out their calves and encourages them to shift weight back through their heels.

7) Triceps dip on chair: Triceps dips are hard to master. It is a modified version of the bridge position, or crab position, as I tell most of my 3-year-olds. It is another great way to encourage heel contact, abdominal muscle strength, and upper body strength. Being able to just hold the position for a 5 year old strengthens more than just the belly muscles. It strengthens the muscles that wrap around the trunk, promoting posture.

8) Plank: Ask anyone who has ever held a plank and they will tell you this is a full body workout! From strengthening the shoulder girdle, to engaging all core muscles, to working on balance, this exercise gives you the most bang for your buck. The importance of many of these things has been touched on previously, but it should be noted that proper shoulder girdle strength is imperative for many things, including ball skills, legible hand writing, and other fine motor tasks.

9) High knees running in place: Running in place with high knees encourages forefoot push-off, and strengthening of calves and quadriceps. Strong muscles in these areas allow for increased push-off during running and jumping activities, allowing a child to run faster and jump farther.

10) Lunge: Lunges are another great exercise utilized by physical therapists to address many different areas. Lunges can help improve ankle range of motion, quadriceps strength, and dynamic balance. Just like with squats, this exercise can be performed both with hands supported and free-standing, depending on the child’s strength and balance needs.

11) Push-up and rotation: This exercise is a way to increase the difficulty of a regular push-up, while also addressing the core muscles important for dynamic postural control. A child should only move on to these exercises once he/she has mastered regular push-ups with good form; regular push-ups can be substituted at station 11 if needed.

12) Side plank: This exercise is a way to increase the difficulty of a regular plank, while focusing primarily on rotator cuff strength and stability. A strong rotator cuff is necessary to prevent injury with repetitive overhead tasks, such as throwing and swimming. Many children who play competitive baseball, softball, and swimming, should be on a rotator cuff strengthening program to limit the frequency of overuse injuries.

Incorporating this short work-out into your family’s daily routine is a great way for the whole family to stay active and show your children the how important it is to exercise regularly. Always remember to get cleared by your physician prior to the start of a new exercise routine. If your school-aged child reports pain or if you notice significant difficulty with any of these exercises, please contact our physical therapists at North Shore Pediatric Therapy to set up an evaluation.

Co-written by Andrea Ragsdale PT

Reference:

Stout, JL. Physical Fitness during Childhood and Adolescence. In Campbell, SK. Physical Therapy for Children ed 3. St. Louis, Missouri : Elsevier, 2006. pp 257-287

ball skills

Help Your Child Develop Ball Skills

 

 

 

Pediatric physical therapists and occupational therapists often work with young children on play skills to prepare them for school and sports. Between when a baby first learns to sit on his own and when he starts preschool, many gross motor skills are developing. The ability to catch, throw, and kick a ball often reflect how well a child can balance his body in space, interact with his environment, and coordinate opposing sides of his body. As a prelude to specialized sports, ball skills are especially important for children to master. The questions parents frequently ask me are often related to the development of those ball skills.

 

When should my child be able to catch a ball?

Catching a ball takes on different qualities when it comes to development. A one-year- old child should be able to catch a ball while sitting down by enclosing the ball with arms and hands, without falling or losing his balance.

  • By age 2, a child is able to stand and hold his arms in front of his body, with palms up in a receiving position in anticipation. He should attempt to secure a ball thrown from 5ft away by bringing hands to chest.
  • By age 3, he should be able to catch a ball thrown from 5ft away with hands only, with arms outstretched, without the need to bring his hands to his chest. At four and a half, a child is able to catch a tennis ball from 5ft away using his hands only, with arms bent at 45 degrees, at least 2 out of 3 times.
  • By age 6, a child can bounce a tennis ball on the floor and catch it with 1 hand.

How should my child throw a ball at different ages?

  • At 12 months, a baby can roll a ball forward on the floor at least 3ft using his hands. He can also stand and throw a ball in any direction by extending his arm at shoulder or elbow.
  • By 18 months, a child should be able to stand and throw a ball without falling.
  • By 2 years, a child will be able to throw a tennis ball forward at least 3ft using an overhand and underhand technique. By two and a half, that distance doubles.
  • By three and a half, a child will be able to throw a tennis ball forward 10ft in the air and use appropriate technique, such as moving arms up and back using upper trunk rotation, with arms and legs moving in opposition. He can also hit a 2ft target from 5ft away with a tennis ball using underhand toss.
  • By four and a half, a child can throw a tennis ball underhandedly at least 10ft using trunk rotation and opposing arm/leg movements. He can also hit a target from 12ft away 2 out of 3 trials using an overhand toss.

When should my child be able to kick a ball?

  • At a year and a half, a child will have the balance and coordination to stand, lift his foot, and contact a ball. By 20 months, he can kick a stationary ball forward 3ft. By 2 years, he would be able to do this without the ball deviating more than 20 degrees to either side of midline, suggesting good control of his body and limbs.
  • A 3-year-old can kick a ball forward 6ft using opposing arm and leg movements. He should be able to initiate the kick by bringing his foot backwards with knee bent.
  • By 6 years, a child has the balance, coordination, and strength to kick the ball forward and up in the air at least 12ft, using proper technique.

Okay. So that’s what my child should be doing. How do I help him achieve these developmental milestones?

It is so important to start at a level that your child can achieve and then gradually increase the difficulty. Children respond well to success and praise, and they are more willing to try challenging tasks as they build up their confidence. Break down each task step by step. For example, if kicking a ball is hard or if his technique is off, have your child practice standing on one foot first or kick a balloon instead. If throwing underhandedly is tough, break down the different position of his arms and legs during each point of the motion. Achieving developmental milestones is a matter of practice, timing, cognitive maturation, and understanding the parts of each task.

Look for an upcoming blog about specialized sports for children. If you continue to have questions or concerns about your child’s coordination, development, and ball skills, come in and talk to one of our specialists!

“Love, 15, 30, 40, game”- Why Tennis is a Great Summertime Activity for Children of All Ages

Tennis provides an excellent opportunity for your child to get outside and practice a wide variety of skills, such as sportsmanship, turn-taking, eye contact, and ball skills.  Tennis is a great partner activity, as it can be played with one player on each side of the net (singles) or with two players on each side(doubles).  Similarly, players can be rotated out, which works on waiting and patience, if there are more than 4 children who want to play with one another.

How Tennis Improves Your Child’s Muscles, Motor Skills and Coordination:

  • Muscle tone: Tennis is a sport which requires constant quick muscle responses to move towards the ball. The child must stabilize her trunk and arm muscles to hold the racquet and hit the ball.Children at the tennis court
  • Hand-eye coordination: The player must keep her eyes on the ball (tracking the ball on the court) in order to keep the game going (a rally) and have the best chance of scoring points. Ideally, the player is able to throw and catch a ball consistently to have the greatest success, as playing a game of catch without the racquets is a prerequisite skill to maintaining a rally.
  • High energy: Tennis is physically demanding, as the player must be constantly moving during the tennis match to keep up with the ball and protect her side of the net. This requires the player to have a good amount of endurance, strength, and breathing control.
  • Muscle grading: The player must be able to determine the appropriate amount of force needed to hit the tennis ball when the ball is moving, in order to return the ball to the other side of the net. For instance, when serving the tennis ball to begin the game, the player will need more force to hit the ball a longer distance, as the server is required to stand behind the baseline (farthest back). On the other hand, when the player is rallying the ball, she may want to hit the ball softly, to place the ball in a spot which will be challenging for the opponent to get to.
  • Sensory: Tennis is usually played outdoors. Therefore, many sensory components are involved. For instance, the outdoor smells (e.g. grass, sunscreen, bug spray); the feel of the ball (e.g. fuzzy/rough; can get soggy/dirty/muddy if it falls into a puddle); and the environmental noises (e.g. insects, airplanes, others nearby, traffic). The player is required to take in all of these sensory components, while also staying focused on the task at hand.

Overall, tennis is a great sport for any age:

Tennis can provide both a cardiovascular and a strength workout, as the player must chase after the ball and protect her side of the net, while also stabilizing and manipulating her racquet.  Tennis is a perfect sport for families to play together, and an easy way to work on sportsmanship and social skills with same aged peers.  If you have any concerns about your child’s ball skills, hand-eye coordination, or bilateral skills, or any other skills mentioned above, please reach out to your child’s occupational therapist or physical therapist for further support and collaboration.

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