Catie Miller, founder of Xtend Barre London, knows only too well how great exercise is for our bodies and minds. However, as she explains, it’s not just for adults – and children can benefit greatly from movement too. Their goals will be different to ours, but the positive impact can be just as huge.
For my son, his introduction to exercise began in my womb. It was during my pregnancy that I discovered Xtend Barre and the incredible benefits to prenatal fitness. This assisted greatly in my recovery, postnatal work and beyond!
Following my pregnancy, I found ways wherever possible to be active with my son, inside and outside of the studio, as I never wanted to miss a beat with him! I invested in a great running buggy and decided to head off for runs in the park to keep his busy mind active, as well as incorporate some time for me!
Fast-forward four years and my son is incredibly active and loves the outdoors. He provides so much joy, love and exercise opportunities! My husband and I encourage a lot of outdoor play, park visits, as well as football games. In turn our son enjoys this because we enjoy it too! Participating in activities together and being present during those younger years has proven to be a great stepping-stone to health and wellbeing for our son.
These younger years are instrumental in building habits with physical activities for growing bodies and minds. As our children grow older they soon feel certain pressures through academics and social activities; being able to provide them with a positive release has shown a greater success rate in mental and emotional wellbeing.
Fitness in children reaps huge rewards and helps them discover their own self-confidence, as well as a little self-love; something we all can learn from! Promote the curious, adventurous stage and ride down that park slide one extra time, because playtime is rewarding for little and big souls!
Here are some of my suggested ways to exercise, play and have some fun whatever the age…
6 weeks to 9 months
Carrying your baby in a sling or carrier is great exercise for mums and offers comfort to babies. There are a growing number of group classes where you can workout with your baby in a sling – try Xtend Barre Babies on Board classes where you can bring your newborn along for this postnatal barre class.
It is designed to give new moms a dynamic workout and babies a bounce of laughter. If you like walking or jogging, invest in a good quality running buggy and enjoy the outdoors together.
The crawling and learning to walk stage can be frustrating for everyone – they don’t want to stay in the buggy but they’re too wobbly to stay upright for very long. At this stage, the swimming pool can be a great way to exercise these developing muscles.
Using a flotation vest can give them the feeling of independence and freedom of movement that they’re craving. Choose a pool that has a warmer temperature; don’t save the pool just for formal swimming lessons though. Family splashy fun is great and helps everyone’s wellbeing!
1.5 to 2.5 years
Try to make sure that you’re incorporating some social elements into the weekly activities – play dates at the park and at soft play centres help develop their social skills through learning to play co-operatively alongside other children, in addition to the more obvious physical benefits.
There can also be workout opportunities for the adults here as well – getting in and out of those ball pits and crawling along a wobbly bridge are surprisingly strenuous! Also, if parental chitter-chatter is not your cup of tea, playing on the roundabout with an assortment of children is a great way to escape.
2.5 years to 5 years
It’s time to start thinking about ditching the buggy and walk, scoot or cycle as much as possible. Ensure that there are opportunities for physical exercise to be incorporated easily and regularly into everyday family life – exercise shouldn’t always be about going to a gym or a lesson.
However, this is also the age when you might want to start to introduce some more formal activity sessions for your children. It might be the first time that your child participates in an activity without you in the room – a big developmental milestone for them and you!
Try Xtend Barre Petites, which focuses on creative movement and incorporates the fundamentals of Xtend Barre, Pilates and dance. It’s a fun, energetic program geared towards children aged 3 and 4 years old.
Ultimately, getting your children moving is key. It’s setting them up for a lifetime of health, happiness and overall physical and mental wellbeing. It’s setting a standard of caring for their bodies, and that’s a huge positive for a generation in which more children than ever are now obese or overweight.
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