One in five children has obesity today, according to current statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That's why it's so important to keep kids active, ensuring they get at least 60 minutes of exercise daily.
It's never too early to teach kids about the importance of strength training. Not only will having more leg muscle prevent obesity, but it will also help kids perform better in their favorite sports.
Kids learn best when they're having fun, so leg exercises for kids should be creative and playful whenever possible.
1. Duck Walk
Animal exercises are perfect for getting kids engaged in activities that strengthen their legs -- they might not even know they're exercising! Duck walks build total leg strength and flexibility.
HOW TO DO IT: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Squat down with your butt lower than the knees. Keep the torso upright and the butt low as you take a small step forward with one foot, then the other foot. Keep alternating back and forth as you move forward. Quack like a duck if you want to.
2. Frog Jump
Another fun animal exercise, frog jumps build leg strength and agility. Learning to jump and land correctly with the knees bent prevents injury.
HOW TO DO IT: Start with feet shoulder-width apart. Squat down, keeping the torso erect, then jump up extending at the hips and knees as you propel yourself forward. Land with both feet flat and the knees bent ready to go into the next jump.
3. Jump Ups
Here's your kid's chance to jump on the furniture. Starting with a low step, kids can work up to jumping on a sturdy bench or chair. You can also have them jump up onto a park bench. Make sure kids are competent with low jumps before they attempt a higher jump.
HOW TO DO IT: Stand in front of a step or bench. Squat down, then spring up and forward. Scrunch your knees in tight, land your feet on the bench, then stand straight up. Jump back down softly, landing with bent knees and go right into your next jump.
4. Wall Sits
Wall sits strengthen the hips, butt and thighs, but they can be pretty boring if you don't make it fun. Set a challenge for your child, or compete with him yourself. Play a game of catch while your child is in a wall sit to distract him from the exercise.
HOW TO DO IT: Stand with your back to a wall. Walk your feet out and position them shoulder-width apart. Slide your back down the wall until your thighs are parallel with the ground. Make sure your knees are aligned over your toes. Hold for as long as you can.
5. Tippy Toes
Strengthening the calf muscles on the backs of the lower legs helps your child balance and be agile.
HOW TO DO IT: Draw lines with chalk on the driveway or sidewalk. Raise up on to your toes and see if you can follow the lines without stepping outside them or coming off tippy toes. If that's too easy, draw shapes or curvy patterns.
6. Side Shuffles
If your child likes tennis or football, have her pretend to be her favorite athlete as she does this exercise, which builds strength in the outer and inner thighs.
HOW TO DO IT: Stand with feet wider than shoulder-width. Squat down keeping the knees aligned over the toes. Step your left foot into meet your right, then take a big step to the right, staying in the squat position. Repeat 10 times to the right, then switch directions. Try speeding it up and slowing it down.