Learning isn’t just about engaging our children's brains.
It’s also about engaging their bodies, both physically and emotionally. That’s why, no matter what stage or season your girl is in, activities like movement and play will continue to be essential to her development and learning.
Remember when your girl was first learning how to crawl? The cross-pattern movement of opposite hand and knee together was a critical stage in her brain development. It helped fire up neurons, cells that send information from our brains to our bodies, and build new neural connections between the left and right hemispheres of her brain for better coordination.
Neurons with the most connections are located in the movement center of the brain, the cerebellum.
What does that mean? Movement can make her smarter.
And we can receive the benefits, too.
Moms, as we age we must continue to learn and challenge ourselves in new ways to stay fit physically and mentally. When it comes to strength, endurance, flexibility, and balance, we’ve got to use it or guess what?
We lose it.
As your girl prepares to head back to school, here are some fun and engaging exercises to strengthen her brain and body while she’s taking a break from her studies. Don’t be afraid to join your girl on the playground for fitness and fun!
Single Leg Balance Lunge: Stand facing away from the swing. Extend one leg back behind you and place the top of your foot over the swing. Bend your knees as you lower your hips towards the ground keeping your chest lifted.
Inverted Push-Ups: Place your ankles over the swing as you come into straight arm plank position. Keep your core engaged. Bend your elbows as you lower your chest towards the ground. Extend your arms and push yourself back up to plank position.
Alternating step-ups: Step up onto the bench with one foot and draw the opposite knee in towards the chest to balance. Step back down and repeat on the opposite leg.
Bench Dip: Take a seat on the bench. Scoot your hips off the bench and bend or extend your legs fully. Bend your elbows to a 90 degree angle and lower hips towards the ground. Push back up and straighten your arms.
Scapular Retractions: Grip the bar shoulder distance apart. Keep your arms straight as you retract your scapula (move shoulders away from your ears) and lift your breast bone up. Release and repeat.
Active Hang: Maintain the retracted position and firm up your entire body (except your face). Engage your core. Squeeze your legs together. Aim to hold for at least one minute.
Open Grassy Area or Field
Skipping: Draw one knee into toward your chest as you simultaneously drive the opposite arm forward with your elbow bent at 90 degrees and rise onto the ball of the foot of the opposite leg and forcefully push the ground away. As soon as the front foot lands on the ground, quickly repeat the motion on the other side. Aim to get as much height and distance as possible.
Lateral Shuffle: Stand sideways with your legs wider than hip-distance apart. Bend your knees and sit your hips back. Keep your chest lifted and abs drawn in as you step to the side, then bring the other leg in toward the leading leg, laterally shuffling.
Dance Party: Bring a mini speaker and play her favorite song. The only rule is constant movement for the duration of the song.
Tag Your It: There’s nothing like a good old game of tag. Get your heart rate up and burn some energy as you try to keep up with your girl.
While movement and play are essential for our physical and mental well-being, remember that our true purpose calls us to flex our faith muscles first: to be like Christ and exude His qualities.
The ability we have to move and use our bodies in healthy ways is a blessing, but that our spiritual fitness is even that much more important.
“Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is valuable in every way, because it promises life both for the present and for the future.” (1 Timothy 4:8)
When the exercise is done, spend some time with your girl in prayer. Encourage her to thank God for the ability to move, play, and take care of her wonderful and exquisitely-made body.
Have an awesome day!