Whether you are swinging through the trees at Acrobranch or getting ready for physical education classes at school, we are sure these great warm up and cool down activities will come in handy!
Why is it important to warm up before doing activities?
Warming up before doing physical activities and exercise may help to reduce the risk of injuries and soreness. Warmups help to get your blood pumping and increase your body temperature. It also warms up and activates your muscles, meaning that you will have a better range of motion when exercising.
Why is it important to cool down after activities?
Cooling down is important because it helps your body to recover in a safe and effective way after an activity. Cooling down helps to lower breathing and to bring your pulse rate back to normal levels after exercising. It can also help to prevent your muscles from being stiff and sore after exercising!
What are good warm up activities for kids?
Here are ten easy warm up activities that kids can do before doing physical activity:
- Bicycle kicks
Lay on your back with legs and feet in the air. Begin moving your legs like you are pedalling a bicycle. Start slowly, increasing the speed slowly. This activity warms up the muscles in your legs, as well as your abdominal muscles.
- High knees:
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Bring your knees up as high as they can go while jogging in place. You can also raise the opposite arm along with your leg, warming up your core, legs and arms.
- Mountain climbers:
This full-body warm up activity is also sometimes called running planks. You start in a plank position, placing your hands shoulder width apart. Bring your knees to your chest one by one. You can start off slowly and increase the pace.
- Star Jumps:
Start by standing with your feet shoulder width apart. Jump into the air, extending your arms upwards and your legs to the side. Land in the star position, then jump to bring your arms and legs back together. You can repeat this full body warm up exercise as many times as you like to warm up your glutes, calves, hamstrings and more.
Stand with one foot in front of the other, as though you are walking forwards. Bend your knees and lower your body until your back knee is almost touching the floor. Straighten your legs again to come back to the starting position and repeat the motion as many times as you’d like. Switch your legs and repeat again.
- Touch your toes
You can do this warm up stretch by standing with your legs shoulder width apart. Lean forward by bending from your hips and reach with your fingertips towards the floor. Reach as far as you can go, then stay there for 30 seconds. You can also try this exercise by sitting with your legs stretched out in front of you, leaning forward to touch your toes.
Warm up your lower body with squats! Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Bend your knees, moving your hips back and down. When you are in a position that looks like you are sitting on an imaginary chair, straighten your legs and return to an upright position. Remember to keep your chest lifted!
- Frog jumps
This simple, but very fun, warm up exercise targets the thighs, calves and glutes. Start by bending your knees and reaching down to touch the ground. Jump up as high as you can, stretching your arms high above your head, and repeat! Croaking like a frog is absolutely optional, but highly recommended.
- Arm Circles
Warm up your shoulders, triceps and biceps with arm circles. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and extend your arms to the side. Move your arms in a circular motion without bending your arms. You can start out with small circles and make them larger. Also remember to change directions after a while.
- Have a dance off!
Select a fun song and start moving! Encourage kids to dance, or show them a couple of moves that they can repeat. You don’t have to be a dancer to make this warm up exercise fun and engaging! The chicken dance, the sprinkler and other classics are great additions to this entertaining warm up activity, just have fun!
What are good cool down activities for kids?
Here are ten cool down activities and stretches you can try after physical activities.
Marching in one spot is a simple but effective way to cool down the body after physical activities. Simply walk in one spot, lifting your knees up high. Move the opposite arm into the air when you are lifting one leg, lowering it as you lower your leg. Repeat this movement as many times as you want, and slow it down to cool down the body.
- Climb an imaginary ladder
Reach up as high as you can and grab the bar of an imaginary ladder, lifting the opposite leg up to step on the bar of that same imaginary ladder. Climb up and up and up, reaching and raising your knees up high. This is the same move we did as kids to illustrate the itsy bitsy spider climbing up a wall, so you can call it that if you’d like, too!
- Jog in place
Jogging in place is a straightforward cool down activity. Start off with a faster pace and slow down to cool your body down. You can end this cool down activity with walking on the spot too.
- Tree in the wind stretch
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Raise your arms high above your head. Pretend that you are a tree blowing in the wind, moving your arms from side to side. Bend your body and sway your arms. You can also reach your arms up and stand on your toes to become an even taller tree!
- Go for a walk
If you have space to go for a walk, this is a great cool down activity! You can take a brisk walk around the playground or even the classroom. Slow down your pace until you are moving slowly. You can even make a game of it by moving in slow motion towards the end of the walk.
- Child’s pose
To do this cool down stretch, kneel on all fours. You can then sit backwards on your calves, trying to go as far back as you can. Bend forward, stretching your arms out in front of you.
- Knees to chest
You can start this cool down stretch by laying on your back with your legs straight in front of you. Bend one knee and pull it towards your chest. You can hold it there for a while, then switch legs and repeat the movement. This stretch focuses on the muscles located in your lower back.
- Hamstring Stretch
Start this exercise by sitting on the ground with both legs stretched out in front of you. Bend your left leg and place the sole of the left food against your right knee. Bend forward and try to touch your toes, reaching as far as you can. Hold the stretch for ten seconds, then switch your legs and repeat.
- Shoulder Stretch
Stretch out your right arm straight in front of you. Use your left arm to gently press your right arm towards your body. Remember to keep your right arm straight. Hold the stretch for ten seconds, then repeat the movement with your left arm.
- Upper Back Stretch
Stand up tall with your feet shoulder width apart. Lock your fingers together, then stretch your arms out in front of you with your palms facing away from you. stretch your arms as far as you can, then hold the stretch for ten seconds.
Next time you visit Acrobranch for a unique family activity, make sure you try out these fun warm up and cool down activities!
Here are some great Twinkl resources to use for warm ups, cool downs and stretches.