Getting therapy patients to stay on track with their strength training regimen can be a challenge. Even adults sometimes forget to do their exercises at home or simply get too busy with other tasks. Children, on the other hand, may become downhearted, bored or upset when they have to adjust to a new training schedule. Whatever the reason for their participation in physical therapy, children often need a little extra coaxing to fully participate. That’s where games can make a huge difference. By making training fun, kids will be more interested and engaged with their new routine. Here are a few amusing games to try out with your younger patients:
This game can help build core strength – and all you need is a ball! Have the children sit in a circle on a soft surface. The game works best if everyone is barefoot, as socks and shoes may make it more difficult to control the ball. The first person should pick up the ball with his or her feet, say the first letter of the alphabet, then swivel and pass the ball to the next person, who takes it by foot and says the next letter. As the ball travels around the circle, all players should keep their feet in the air, which will help build core strength. You can make the game easier by spelling out a shorter word, or more difficult by using a smaller ball.
The Mayo Clinic offers these tips for this or any other exercise you choose:
— Mayo Clinic Sports (@mayoclinicsport) August 8, 2016
Harness the imaginations of your young pupils with this fun animal walk game. Make sure you have lots of room to explore. Start by showing off each of the different walks to the kids and have them follow along. When everyone has a good understanding of what’s expected, start up some entertaining music and shout out the name of an animal. The children should perform that walk until the next animal is called. To encourage more participation, you can reward well-behaved children by appointing them the leader of the game and having them choose the animals.
Here are some descriptions of the walks recommended by Lemon Lime Adventures:
- Crab walk: Squat down, and then place your hands on the floor behind you. With your stomach facing the ceiling, walk around on your hands and feet.
- Donkey kick: Get down on all fours, balancing on your hands and toes. Kick your legs out behind you one after the other.
- Frog leap: Squat down with your feet flat on the floor. Place your hands on either side of your feet. Leap forward and land in the same position.
- Kangaroo jump: Hold your elbows close to your sides and place your feet close together. Squat down low, and then jump up as high as you can.
Have fun coming up with your own silly animal walks!
Fitness grab bag
To motivate kids to do more traditional exercises, consider this lively game. First, write down the name of each exercise on a slip of paper. Place the slips into an opaque bag or jar. Have one of the children draw a slip of paper and read the name of the exercise aloud. Next, roll a die or pair of dice to determine how many reps to do.
By making exercise enjoyable, you’ll likely see better results and more engagement from younger therapy patients. And who knows, you might even have more fun, too!