Kids often seem to be “always on” when it comes to physical activity. It’s like they can bound into action at a moment’s notice, and their growing bodies already have plenty of energy stored up to engage whatever challenge they face. Do they, like adults, need to warm-up before any sort of exercise? Or can they take advantage of their youthful flexibility and vigor and skip that?
The truth of the matter is…yes, youth need pre-exercise warm-ups just as much as adults! Many of the benefits of a warm-up are similar, no matter how old you are. When they warm-up, kids will experience:
More supple muscles and joints, allowing them to move more freely and have better coordination
Increased blood flow and breathing, sending more oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. This lets them be more efficient in drawing energy from their natural stores, plus be primed for recovery and growth once the exercise is over.
Better mental engagement. When kids have a few minutes to warm-up, it lets them work out any mental or physical distractions, so they tend to be more focused on the activity at hand (and get more out of it).
If a warm-up doesn’t occur, kids stand a higher risk of being injured through ligament strains and sprains. This is why we always incorporate warm-ups with youth Pilates sessions and educate the kids as to the importance of pre-activity warm-ups—not just with Pilates, but with any major sport or physical activity they may engage in.
Usually a proper warm-up takes five to ten minutes for the full effects to engage. This can involve more dynamic stretching, light jogging, jumping jacks, jump ropes, or even skipping around a room in a playful manner. Often, warm-ups can be “disguised” as a variety of games that get kids moving without them even realizing they’re exercising. Plus, such group warm-ups can help the kids bond more for the upcoming activity or class, breaking down social barriers and encouraging an overall positive mood. Sometimes we’ve seen kids enjoy the pre-Pilates games so much, they want to lead the warm-ups themselves!