Boot Camp Workout for Kids
The men and women of the United States Marine Corps must stay at peak levels of health and fitness in preparation for potential combat. The rigorous training Marines endure in boot camp elevates their bodies to a higher level of fitness, and they aim to maintain this level of health throughout their service in the Marine Corps.
Marines are so committed to active, healthy lifestyles that each October they host 20,000 runners in the Marine Corps Marathon. The 26.2-mile run begins at the Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Va., and runs past all the monuments and memorials in Washington, D.C.
Marathoning as a form of exercise isn't recommended for children younger than the age of 14. For those not yet of marathon age, the Marines host the Healthy Kids Fun Run, a one-mile run that is accompanied by a fitness warm-up alongside the Marines.
If you can't be in Arlington to join the energy of the Healthy Kids Fun Run, here are some basic exercises Marines do to stay in shape:
- Jumping Jacks
- Arm circles
For sit-ups, push-ups and pull-ups, children should start off doing a few repetitions. They can gradually increase this number as their muscles become stronger. Remember to warm up with exercises like jumping jacks and arm circles before playing sports or running, and cool down with stretching to avoid injury. Challenge kids to a Jumping Jack Challenge to see who can go the longest before getting out of breath.
Exercise is fun and important and can be done during outside play time and even while inside watching TV. The National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) has recently increased the recommended amount of daily exercise to at least 60 minutes, and up to several hours of physical activity per day. The Marines' exercises are fun and simple enough for children to do. Best of all, the young athletes enjoy imitating strong, tough Marines.
Don't Stop at Exercise
Eating healthy is also vital to maintaining a child's physical fitness. The American Obesity Association reports that approximately 30.3 percent of children ages 6 to 11 are overweight and 15.3 percent are obese. To fight obesity and keep a fit body, Marine Corps Base Quantico, Semper Fit dietician Tammy Impelliterri suggests children should follow the food pyramid guide's diet of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy and lean meats.
Impelliterri says that Marines promote health and fitness with military youth by having organized sports teams on base, holding kid healthy cooking classes and going to health and gym classes at local middle and high schools to share information on exercise and nutrition. Children learn by example; therefore it is essential for caregivers to teach them correct eating and exercise habits early on.
While the Marines build their bodies to be strong amidst adversity, the rest of us derive benefits that extend beyond just good health. When children exercise they do the following:
Make a Lot of Friends
Whether children play for a soccer team, join a tennis club or find a running partner, they make new friends with similar interests and build lifelong friendships.
Build a Stronger Body
If a child is physically fit it helps him to prevent and heal from injuries he sustains playing sports. His immune system is also stronger to fight off illnesses.
When people exercise their body releases endorphins, chemicals that make them happier. If children exercise on a regular basis they will feel better and have a more positive attitude when faced with some of life's challenges.
Have More Energy
Exercising on a regular basis increases stamina, or your ability to keep going for a longer period of time. This means children can run farther, play harder and dance longer during the day and will be ready to get some sleep and rest at bedtime.
Everyone likes to look nice, and exercising keeps a child's body in shape. Their self-confidence and self-image will be stronger if they feel good about the way they look.
Earn Better Grades
Kids have a lot of energy, and it is sometimes hard for them to concentrate on the teacher all day. If children exercise, they burn a lot of built-up energy and can pay attention in class longer. The more focused a student is, the more she learns and the better grades she earns.
The family that exercises together stays happy together. Taking walks after dinner or going for a hike on the weekend allows your family to spend time together. This is time to get closer and share your day with one another, instead of watching TV or playing video games.
Have More Fun
Whether scoring a run at a baseball game, finishing their first 5K race or playing for a team in a soccer tournament, exercising and playing sports is fun. Kids can make their bodies healthier and create unforgettable memories at the same time.
The Marine Corps Marathon's Web site, www.marinemarathon.com offers a Healthy Kids Newsletter full of healthy ideas, fun training tips for youngsters, kid-friendly recipes and more.
There are many great kid and family fun runs all over the country. The greatest motivation for any child is the example of a parent. Take time as a family to commit to healthy activities.