Cardiovascular health is important to everyone. Most doctors agree that preventing heart disease, the number one killer of adults in America starts with children.
That’s why we’ve compiled a list of activities that can help promote cardio for children. Keep reading to find out some solutions that you can incorporate into your family’s routine.
Understanding Cardio for Kids
Cardio exercise is defined as any activity that raises your heart rate. So, activities like running, jumping, swimming, and plenty more all count.
This is important because it helps your cardiovascular system. Without this help, the system struggles to maintain itself, leading to health problems. In addition, cardiovascular exercise burns calories, which helps ward off obesity.
Fun and Engaging Cardio Activities for Kids
There are plenty of fun and engaging cardio activities that kids can do. These include:
Going for a run, jog, or bike ride
Playing with a jump rope
Going on a hike or a brisk walk through nature
Dancing or playing “Mirror Mirror”
Swimming or playing in the pool
Playing physically active sports like soccer, football, basketball, or hockey
Incorporating Cardio into a Daily Routine
The easiest way to incorporate cardio into a daily routine is to take cardio breaks. At various points in the day, take a few minutes for your children to do any cardio activity they want. This alone will help keep them healthier.
You can also include cardio in normal activities. Running or skipping instead of walking to get from one place to another is a simple change yet introduces more cardio.
Cardio for Kids with Special Needs
Children with special needs may need to have activities adapted to them in order to be possible. The nature of the adaptation will depend on their condition.
For example, a hand bike is a piece of cardio equipment that can be used while sitting down. This makes it possible for children in a wheelchair to do this activity.
Safety Considerations for Cardio Exercise
The most important thing to consider regarding cardio safety is a proper warm-up and cool-down. A bundle of warm-up activities will help keep everyone safe while exercising. Then, some cool-down activities will help end the day right.
On top of this, being safe while exercising is important. For intense activities, proper safety equipment should always be worn. Adults involved should also always be on the lookout for any injuries.
Creating a Supportive Environment for Cardio
Children are more likely to participate in cardio if the environment surrounding the activity is positive. An easy way to promote this environment is to get everyone involved. Kids will start to wonder why they are the only ones exercising if no one else participates. However, if everyone is involved, they will easily stick with it.
Connecting kids with other kids helps too. Joining a sports team or simply exercising together will keep kids active and help them bond while doing so.
Interested in starting your child on cardio exercises? Take our fitness and mobility assessment first to help guide you in creating a fitness plan.
Overcoming Challenges and Barriers
Just like adults, kids have to overcome challenges and barriers to push themselves to exercise. Part of this comes from motivation or lack thereof.
The best way to combat this is to make exercising as easy as possible. Clear room in your children’s day so exercise isn’t distracting from other activities. In addition, provide them with plenty of options so they don’t get bored doing the same thing repeatedly.
Nutrition and Hydration for Cardio
It is incredibly important to stay hydrated during cardio. Cardio often leads to sweating, which leads to water loss. Staying hydrated prevents any health problems from occurring due to this water loss.
In addition, a good diet helps. No one should exercise on an empty stomach or on a diet without the necessary fuel. Working through a healthy plate activity can help make it easier to choose a good diet.
Monitoring Progress and Celebrating Achievements
Sticking with an exercise routine is easier if you make progress with it. You can create this progress for your children by celebrating their achievements.
This starts by setting a goal. The goal could be to exercise for five days in a row or to be able to run for a certain length of time. Then, when your child reaches that goal, you should celebrate it. Give them some sort of reward as a mark of their progress.
Benefits of Cardio for Kids’ Physical Health
Adding cardio to your child’s routine can positively impact their lives in many ways. These include:
Improving their overall health by improving their cardiovascular health
Enhancing their physical skills and abilities
Improving endurance and, thus, making everyday tasks easier
Promoting better bone health
Fighting against childhood obesity
Benefits of Cardio for Kids’ Mental Health
Cardio doesn’t just lead to physical benefits; it also leads to mental benefits. These include:
An increased sense of well-being
A clearer mind
Better academic achievement
Benefits of Cardio for Kids’ Social Development
Cardio also leads to better social development. The benefits here include
Better social skills and more friends as a result of these skills
The teamwork, communication, and leadership skills that come with team sports
Cardio for Kids: Myth vs. Reality
Myth: It doesn’t matter what your child eats as long as they exercise.
Reality: Eating right is just as important as exercising, and a good diet will capitalize on the benefits of exercise.
Myth: Exercise, especially working with weights, will stunt children’s growth.
Reality: Exercise does not stunt growth; even light work with weights can be healthy.
Myth: You can only get cardio exercise from running.
Reality: There are tons of different cardio exercises besides running.
Myth: Children need to work hard and build up sweat for their exercise to be effective.
Reality: Any kind of movement helps make children healthier, even if it doesn’t lead to sweating.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are some fun and safe cardio activities for kids with limited outdoor space?
Jumping rope and dancing require very little space and can be highly effective cardio exercises.
How much cardio exercise is recommended for kids of different age groups?
The Department of Health and Human Services suggests that children six and older should get at least one hour of moderate or vigorous daily cardio exercise.
Can kids with health conditions or disabilities engage in cardio exercise?
Yes. There are plenty of exercises that can be done without upsetting health conditions. Some of these are lighter exercises, while others make accommodations for disabilities.
How can parents and caregivers motivate kids who are not interested in cardio?
Two ways to drive forward motivation in cardio are to reward cardio and to get involved yourself. Children will be more likely to participate if they know they will be rewarded. They also might choose to participate anyway if they see how much fun you have by participating in the activities.
What are some healthy and kid-friendly snacks to fuel cardio workouts?
Protein, natural fibers, and vitamins help fuel kids for cardio. Options include whole-grain toast with natural peanut butter, fresh vegetables, Greek yogurt with fruit, health-focused cereal bars, and almost anything with eggs.
Cardio helps a healthy child grow into a healthy adult. By participating in any number of cardiovascular activities, your child can incorporate some cardio into their lives and, thus, be healthier.