Go Play! Easy Gym and Recess Activities for Students
February 22, 2017
Children are great at inventing imaginative games on the spot, but making a heart-healthy fitness plan probably isn't their top priority during a rousing game of tag. Help channel their energy and fun loving spirit into well-rounded fitness-related activities. Using classic gym supplies for inspiration, you can invent creative variations on timeless games to get them moving.
Boost Energy With Aerobic Gym Activities
Although a roomful of energetic kids can be overwhelming, providing opportunities to move around helps children improve their stamina. Plan games that are aerobic in nature to help them stay active for longer periods, as recommended by KidsHealth.  Many traditional activities, including tennis, volleyball, kickball, dancing and gymnastics, incorporate aerobics and use a variety of muscle groups. Low-cost gym supplies, such as foam discs, hula hoops and mats can also be used during kickball, soccer, softball and baseball.
Activity stations, competitive sports and relay games let you combine multiple exercises. You also can adapt the activities to fit your equipment as long as it’s safe. For example, set up a simple race course using cones so they can run around them. Let small groups battle off in a hula-hoop contest, and follow up with a jump rope, jumping jacks or cartwheel station. Promote coordination by having them dribble or kick a ball between two fixed points. These gym activities work independently, but you can try different combinations and let them take turns competing at each station. It can be fun and challenging at the same time!
Run, Jump, Push and Climb to Build Strength
Running, swinging from bars safely, playing hopscotch and climbing ladders within reason can be smart ways to build strength. If your school has a playground, host gym classes for young children in this interactive environment where they can enjoy fresh air and exercise. For any age group, organize a friendly tug-of-war tournament to put healthy tension on the arms, legs and hips as students test their strength while embracing the concept of teamwork.
Make tag your go-to game when you’re short on planning time, and design your own themed variations that appeal to the interests of a variety of students. Perhaps try a zombie theme, or arrange students in a conga-style line for dragon-tail tag, which challenges the player at the back to take hold of the player at the front. Add creativity to your themes by using laminated picture cards or flag football belts to identify opposing teams.
Jumping may be considered one of those simple activities to help create a relaxed, cheerful mood. As a form of aerobic exercise, jumping helps the body produce mood-enhancing chemicals, making it useful for promoting full body fitness, according to WebMD.  Consider integrating these benefits with your gym activities using stepping-stone obstacles. Timing the game encourages speed, and you can repurpose hula hoops and mats to design the course. Use low bars or boxes to provide obstacles for students to jump over, and finish with a sack race that draws upon their muscle strength.
Plan Stretching Exercises for Flexibility
If you've ever marveled at a child's incredible flexibility, you know how important it is for students to stretch their muscles after sitting at their desks for hours. Use dancing or mirroring games, such as Simon Says, to lead young children in fun stretching exercises. For example, tell them to reach high above their heads, touch their fingertips to the ground, kick one leg in the air or lie on the ground in pretend flight. For older children, use similar movements by combining safe yoga and martial arts poses.
Select items that help maintain a healthy and orderly environment. Stock up on supplies to communicate and structure games, such as megaphones, whistles and field measuring tape. You’ll turn great gym ideas into engaging lessons.
The contents of this article are for informational purposes and are based on the research noted below. The information does not constitute a medical consultation and cannot replace medical advice. Any information should never be used as a substitute for the advice provided by a physician or other health care provider. Before you start working out, you should get a medical checkup or otherwise be fit for this type of activity. It is important that you warm up and stretch before each workout, and that you use common sense while exercising: do not go over the top when exercising! If you experience any pain, feel weak, dizzy or exhausted or become short of breath, immediately stop your workout.
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