What’s inside this article: A look at the physical and cognitive benefits of exercise for children, instructions for an easy 8 minute workout for kids, and a free printable poster & printer friendly instructions to use with your children.
It’s no secret, children thrive on routine and structure. They also need physical activity, for more reasons than you may realize. Have you thought about adding a morning workout to your kids’ routine?
Yes, I know mornings are already chaotic, especially school mornings. But what if I told you that committing to less than 10 minutes per day could drastically improve your child’s focus, attention, and overall learning?
Workouts for Kids
First of all, if you haven’t downloaded my 7-minute HIIT workout for kids already, you should do that now.
This workout is basically the 2.0 version of my first, incredibly popular workout for kids.
You can also download this fun dinosaur workout for kids, too.
Why Kids Should Exercise in the Morning
Research says that 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day is optimal for child development.
Sure, 8 minutes is only 13% of that physical activity.
But, there are so many benefits. Exercise is beneficial for both physical and cognitive development.
Physical Benefits of Exercise for Kids
- Gross motor development
- Improved balance
- Improved flexibility
- Increased endurance
- Better motor planning
Cognitive Benefits of Exercise for Kids
The physical benefits of exercise are great but it’s actually the cognitive benefits of exercise that make it worthwhile to do a morning workout with your kids.
- Improves self-regulation
- Reduces hyperactivity and fidgeting (especially in children with ADHD or ASD)
- Improves focus
- Decreases anxiety & boosts mood
- Better learning
Basically, exercise positively influences neurotransmitters in the brain (it reduces cortisol and adrenaline and increases dopamine and serotonin).
This improves the brain’s functions which heightens the ability to process new information (learn) and improves sensory integration.
So if you’re going to do a morning workout with your kids, it’s got to be fun or they won’t want to do it.
8-Minute Animal Workout For Kids
Here’s the new 8-minute morning workout.
This is a HIIT workout for kids just like my other workout, but the last move is more of a cool-down move.
One of the things kids love most about this workout is actually acting like the animal as they do the move, especially making the animal noises.
Don’t be afraid to jump in and do this with your child, and get everyone laughing at the same time.
What you need:
- A yoga mat
- An interval timer (I use an app on my phone)
Set up your interval timer for 45 seconds of work and 15 seconds of rest for a total of 1 minute per move.
You and your kids should do as many of each move as possible during the 45 seconds (with the exception of the last move).
Your goal should be to break a sweat. That will be key in order to see optimum benefits from the workout.
1. Lizard Run
Start in a plank position.
You should have your hands (or forearms) on the floor, a straight back, and holding up your lower body with your toes.
You’re going to “run” as fast as you can, like a little lizard by bringing your knees up, one at a time, to your arms. (Picture a mountain climber)
This works the whole body, improves core strength, and practices bilateral coordination and motor planning.
2. Monkey Climbs
Standing up straight again with legs slightly hip-width apart, bend your elbows so your hands are beside your shoulders.
Raise your right arm above your head while simultaneously raising your left knee to your hips.
Then, alternate by lowering your arm and knee and lifting the left arm above your head while also lifting the right knee.
To get an idea of what this looks like, imagine the lizard runs only you’re standing and adding in the arm movements, like a standing mountain climber.
This move is pretty advanced when it comes to motor planning and reciprocal bilateral coordination and may take some practice for your child so don’t worry if it looks uncoordinated, what’s important is that they’re having fun.
3. Hummingbird Flies
Stand up straight, with feet together. Stretch your arms straight out on either side of you (like a cross).
Then you’re going to move your arms in very small circles. This is like windmills but with small, tight circles like a hummingbird quickly moving their wings.
This move is great for stimulating the joints in the arms and shoulders which provides proprioceptive input.
Our body’s proprioceptive input receptors are located in the joints and tendons and are stimulated by pressure, stretching, and tension.
This helps improve body awareness.
4. Kangaroo Jumps
Start by standing straight, legs slightly less than hip-width apart.
Then, bend your knees to about a 45-degree angle and then spring yourself up, jumping in place as high as you can. Land with your knees back at the 45-degree angle and repeat.
This looks similar to a jump squat, but you aren’t going down as low. You can swing your arms out straight in front of you to help maintain your balance.
This move is great for building both endurance and balance.
5. Snake Crawl
The rest of the workout is completed on the ground, but don’t worry that doesn’t make it too easy.
For the snake crawl, prop yourself up on your forearms with your legs resting on the ground straight out behind you.
You shouldn’t be using your legs to support your body weight at all, they’re your long snake tail.
Use your forearms to drag yourself forward like a modified army crawl.
6. Hatching Butterfly
Start off by sitting on your bottom with your knees up in front of you.
Hug your knees into your chest and roll backward, curling up into a small ball. This is your cocoon.
Next, you’re going to “hatch” out of your cocoon like a butterfly by spreading your arms and legs out as far and wide as you can.
Your arms and legs should be hovering a few inches off the ground, using your abdominal muscles to support yourself.
This move helps build core strength and improve posture.
7. Donkey Kicks
This is the last high-intensity move in the workout. Start on your hands and knees and kick your leg out and up at a 90-degree angle. Alternate legs going as quickly as you can.
If you have the core and upper body strength to do it safely, try kicking both legs at the same time like a traditional donkey kick, temporarily supporting your weight with your arms and core.
8. Downward Facing Dog
Time to cool down.
Start with your hands and knees on the floor. Then lift your knees off the floor, raising your buttocks high in the air, pushing your heels toward the ground and your palms flat on the ground.
You should be looking down so your head is completely inverted.
Hold the pose for 45 seconds, or for the full minute, if you can.
This move works as a cool down move at the end of the workout and being upside down also provides a ton of vestibular input which can help keep sensory seekers calm for hours.
Download the Poster
If you’re ready to start incorporating this fun and easy workout into your child’s morning routine, download the free printable now.
This download includes the poster with the workout moves on it and a printer-friendly version of the instructions outlined above.