A good way to improve a young child's fitness is to create repeated opportunities for short bouts of all-out exercise. Jumping activities are a good way to do this in a small space, and will quickly get the heart racing and increase the breathing rate.
Below are some ideas for jumping games that can be graded to make them progressively more difficult.
Tolerating sensations of all-out physical effort
These jumping activities activities are designed to encourage the child to exert themselves, which means tolerating the sensations that go with all-out physical effort. If your child avoids activities that result in a racing heart and labored breathing it helps to reassure the child that this is what is expected when you exercise and is a sign that they are working hard and getting fitter.
You can also let the child feel their own heartbeat by putting a hand on the chest to feel how hard the heart is working. It also helps to get your own heart racing and let the child put their hand on your chest to feel it.
Jumping around the house
Use numbered cards to mark a jumping course going into and out of a several rooms.
Encourage your child to jump, taking off from two feet and landing on two feet, all the way from the first room to the end of the jumping course.
- How long does it takes to do complete the jumping course once? Can your time be improved?
- How many jumps does it take to complete the course? Can you make your jumps bigger so that you make fewer jumps to complete the course?
Jumping across the lawn or patio
If you have a longish open space such as a patio or lawn you can create a long straight jumping track.
Mark the start and finish lines with an object or chalk line that must be touched to indicate that you have reached the “finish line”.
- Have jumping races.
- Count how many jumps are needed go from the beginning to the end of the track. Try to take bigger jumps, so you need to make fewer jumps to get to the finish line.
Jumping over obstacles
Jumping over obstacles increases the coordination needed for completing a series of two-foot jumps.
Create a jumping track with a start and finish line. Position two or more low barriers crossing the jumping track.
- You can use a couple of cereal boxes, books or magazines laid end-to-end, or cushions to create your barrier.
- Doing two foot jumps, how long does it take to jump from the start to finish line and back again?
- Can you jump there and back again 2 or more times?
Jumping over a series of obstacles
In this activity the challenge is to jump over 4-6 low obstacles positioned across the jumping track.
- Use cereal boxes positioned upright and next to each other, or several 1 liter yogurt or ice-cream tube positioned next to each other, to create you barriers.
- Start by positioning the barriers about 50 cm apart. The challenge is to jump over all the barriers without knocking them over.
- Increase the difficulty by moving the barriers further apart.
The content on this article is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute professional advice.
If your child has a medical condition that affects their fitness and ability to do strenuous physical activity, please consult your child's health care professional before starting an exercise program, especially one that includes strenuous activity.
All liability is excluded to the fullest extent permitted by law in respect of any loss or damage whether direct, indirect or consequential that arises in connection with the use of or reliance upon any content forming part of this article.
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