Children and adolescents should get one hour of physical activity a day, but they do not need an expensive gym membership or fancy equipment in order to stay fit. There are many exercises kids and teens can do at home or at a local playground to get a full cardio workout. The most important thing to remember is to keep it entertaining and age appropriate.
1. Importance of Cardio Workouts
Cardio workouts burn fat and help keep your child at a healthy weight. They also help to build muscle, improve respiration and keep the heart healthy. Other benefits include an increase in stamina, improved mood, better skin and better overall appearance. Children who have not been active should see their pediatrician before beginning a new exercise routine.
Teens can do a variety of jumps to get an adequate workout, using nothing but their own body weight. Jumping jacks, tuck jumps, vertical jumps, long jumps and an invisible jump rope jump all exercise different muscles while giving their heart a workout. Alternatively, they can try starting their jumps from a lunge or squat position. Jumping jack planks -- doing jumping jacks starting from a plank position -- will also exercise their arms and core.
3. Walking and Running
The easiest way to get a cardiovascular workout at any age is to just put one foot in front of the other. Kids of all ages can take a walk, and families will benefit from walking together. Kids old enough to walk by themselves will enjoy walking or running around their neighborhood or a park. When the weather is bad, they can run up and down the stairs in their home. A 75-pound child will burn more than 100 calories during an hour of moderately paced walking.
If your child prefers running around with a group of friends to a solitary run around the block, a game of tag can give several children an effective workout at once. Beyond the traditional game where one child is "it" and must chase the other children, there are many other varieties. In "Manhunt," one child starts as the chaser, but after that, each person caught also becomes a catcher and helps to catch the other players. "Blind Man's Bluff" is best played in enclosed places with no or few obstacles, because the catcher is blindfolded. Young children will enjoy a traditional game of "Duck, Duck Goose."