By: Abby Morton, DPT
We are a year into our new normal and can all feel the duration of this change physically, emotionally, and mentally. At Child & Family Development, we see just how resilient children can be, especially over the past year. We have been amazed with the flexibility and acceptance of our little ones!
Many of the clients we see thrive in a social setting where they can run, play, and climb with peers. When this is limited, there is only so much a screen can provide. A concern we see creeping up more often is the decreased opportunity to challenge strength and endurance. Our kids are sitting more, playing with friends in a group setting less, and in general moving less.
In a general sense, strength is the ability to activate force against a resistance. Endurance is the ability to sustain these muscle contractions repeatedly or for a period of time. Strength and endurance are important to support a child’s activities of gross motor (walking, running, sitting, standing, climbing, and jumping) and fine motor (writing, using utensils, brushing teeth, and dressing). Having adequate muscular endurance offers postural support to perform these activities.
How can I tell if my child has problems with strength and endurance?
Your child might:
- Have difficulty managing playground equipment smoothly
- Appear stiff, awkward or clumsy with movement
- Avoid physical activity
- Needs multiple rest breaks with physical activity
- Have difficulty getting up from the ground smoothly
- Have difficulty maintaining upright posture while sitting or standing for long periods
- Tend to slouch while sitting for virtual school or standing for long periods
- Need to exert more energy to complete a task compared to peers
- Not be able to achieve a task compared to peers
- Complain of feeling tired or sore throughout the day
Here are some fun ways to encourage building strength and endurance that can serve as brain breaks throughout the day:
- Safari walks acting as different animals (bear walk, frog jump, bunny hopping, duck walking on heels, crab walk)
- Obstacle courses inside or outside (stepping over, crawling under, jumping)
- Bike riding
- Nature walks or hiking
- Hop scotch
- Jump rope
- Playing tag
- Climbing and swinging at the playground
- Sport related activities (kicking, dribbling, and throwing a ball)
- Dance breaks between virtual learning sessions