Anytime I kick off a new year, I like to ask myself a couple of questions: How am I doing with my exercise routine? Am I getting enough physical activity? Am I finding enjoyable and challenging ways to stay active? When I answer these questions, I’m more likely to set myself up for a year of healthy life choices.
Yet my line of self-directed inquiry doesn’t end there. I also ask: Am I encouraging my children to be physically active, too?
It’s a worthwhile question. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, only one in three kids is physically active on a daily basis. On average, more than seven and a half hours of a typical kid’s day are spent sitting in front of a digital screen.
This is an uncomfortable trend that I’m certainly willing to buck in my family – and one that I hope to help other families fight back against by introducing kids to Pilates.
Benefits of Pilates for kids
• Pilates is low impact, making it safer for growing bodies. Young kids engaging in high-impact sports have an increased risk of injury, not the least of which is due to the unique vulnerabilities of their developing musculoskeletal system. A low-impact activity like Pilates (done in the presence of a certified Pilates instructor who has specific experience working with children) enables children to work on their balance, strength, flexibility, stamina and agility without exposing them to unnecessary risk.
• Pilates helps children increase their core stability, which may translate to better posture and better grades. One of the main goals of Pilates is improving core stability and addressing postural imbalances. Doing so may help children conserve more energy as they’re sitting in class all day, thus allowing them to focus more on academics. Plus, children who learn how to sit, stand and function with better posture can avoid future injuries like back pain.
• Pilates teaches children body awareness – important for a fruitful and healthy athletic career. Children with good awareness of their bodies in space have better coordination, motor control and proprioception. Skills learned in Pilates can translate into improved athletic performance in virtually any sport they choose to participate in.
• Pilates is a fantastic stress buster for kids and adults alike. Pilates features a lot of focus on breathing and mindfulness exercises – strategies proven to reduce stress. The challenge of learning something new also helps children build their confidence and self-esteem.
• Pilates is fun. “Life must be lived as play,” according to Plato. I agree wholeheartedly, especially when it comes to encouraging children to stay more active.
It’s incredibly important for kids to realize that exercise doesn’t have to be a boring chore to check off the to-do list. Staying active can be fun, pleasurable and something to look forward to. By instilling this value in our children, I believe we’re poised to create a generation of active and healthy young people.
New kids’ Pilates class
PhysioFit’s Kids Play Pilates workshop, scheduled Saturday, is designed to help kids develop their own self-sense ability by introducing Pilates and complementary movement methods in a fun way to help students connect with their bodies and understand alignment and form. Combining structured and explorative learning, students are given the opportunity to connect movements to other activities, in and outside of school environments.
With consistent practice, kids can use the skills learned to prevent injury and improve performance in their physical activities, as well as relax and manage stress. The fun factor keeps kids engaged and motivated to continue their own movement practice, which sets them up for a lifetime of health and well-being.
Kim Gladfelter is owner, physical therapist and Pilates instructor at PhysioFit Physical Therapy and Wellness, 1000 Fremont Ave., Suite 108, Los Altos. For more information, call 887-6046 or visit physiofitpt.com.