Do the Chicken Stretch!
This activity is appropriate for kids ages 5 to 7.
Stretching helps kids in several ways. It can help them relax when they're keyed up and need to calm down -- like before bed or before a meal. A stretching exercise can use pent-up energy when kids need to be still -- like standing in a line at the grocery store or even at a parade. A good stretch can help release stress and get kids in a better mood when they're sad or mad, too.
Explain to your child to do any stretching exercise slowly, so he can feel it in his muscles.
Here are a few other animal stretches you can teach your child.
Cat Stretch. Have your child kneel on all fours. Show her how to arch her back up like a hissing cat. Then have her arch her back downward and lift her head, like a cat who wants her chin scratched, to give her spine a good stretch and help her body relax.
Elephant Stretch. Have your child stand and bend over at the waist with both of his arms hanging straight down. Show him how to move his arms like they are an elephant's trunk. Swing both arms slowly up to one side -- about parallel to the floor, then back down and up to the other side. He should feel the stretch in his shoulders and lower back. He can do this stretch while walking.
You can add noises to these other animal stretches, too -- hissing, purring, trumpeting. Be creative so that your child is having fun!
What to Teach Your Child: Stretching Feels Good
Stretching is a great way to help your child gain body awareness in a positive way. A stretching exercise helps your child:
- Increase flexibility
- Relax muscles
- Improve coordination
It's best to stretch muscles that have been warmed up. Kids can warm up muscles by walking, dancing, swinging arms, kicking legs, and other gentle movements.
What's the FIT Connection?
Teaching your child healthy ways to recharge -- sleep and relax -- is part of raising FIT kids. Stretching contributes to many aspects of fitness. You can use stretching to relax your body and mind before bed or to refresh yourself after sitting. You can stretch to help muscles warm up for and cool down from exercise. Taking the time to stretch can put you in a better mood, and over time, the regular practice of a stretching exercise (like yoga) can improve your response to stress as well as your body image, self-esteem, and overall sense of well-being, too.
Simple stretching is something everyone in the family can do, regardless of age or physical condition, and benefit from.