According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, young people participate in increasingly less physical activity as they advance in school. The CDC recommends that schools provide physical opportunities that will be perceived as fun rather than a chore. An obstacle course is a fun, completely flexible option for gym class. It can be set up indoors or outdoors and is easily modified to work for any age group. Obstacle courses require students to work on aerobic endurance, agility and flexibility.
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An obstacle course and training classic, the tire run helps students focus on their balance and coordination. Line up two rows of tires, placing them in a slightly offset pattern. During the obstacle course, kids must run through the line of tires, keeping one foot in either row. This obstacle is best for older students whose legs are long enough to reach the two rows easily. For younger students, modify the activity by placing a single row of tires and having students hop from one to another.
Emulate a military training obstacle by creating a gym crawl. Set up two lines of posts or heavy chairs that are about 1 to 2 feet tall, setting them about a foot apart. String ropes across each pair to form a low ceiling over the crawl area. Kids must crawl under the ropes, moving their bodies so they do not pull down the chairs or hit the ropes; you can hang small flags on the lines to make it easier to see. For safety, make sure kids are wearing long pants and sleeves or pads to protect their skin or line the crawl area with gymnastics mats.
To test students' balance, bring out a balance beam from your gymnastics class. Place the beam on top of mats to protect students and have each person make his way across any way he can without falling off -- walking, crawling or scooting on the stomach. For younger kids, use a low beam that you can place directly on the floor to reduce the risk of falling and to make it easier to get onto the beam.
Give your students the opportunity to practice their coordination and agility by setting up a soccer ball dribble area. Set up orange safety cones in a pattern around a large area of the gym or field. Kids must kick a ball through the course and around each cone, making sure that they don't lose control of the ball and maneuvering tightly around narrow spaces. According to "Health" magazine, this activity helps students work on their agility and lateral motion skills.