The lifestyle of children has been compromised by sedentary behaviour which includes watching television, video games, fast foods, cell phones and reduced physical activity. This has contributed to children becoming less active resulting in an increase in childhood obesity, poor posture, increased critical injuries, low self-esteem, emotional stress and other physiological as well as psychological conditions.
Over the years Pilates has become very popular amongst the adult population holding many benefits which include strengthening, flexibility, improvement in posture, decrease back pain and emotional well-being. Children can also benefit tremendously from Pilates, but little emphasis has been placed on the benefits Pilates holds for children.
Our bodies are created to adapt to what we teach them to do. When we teach our bodies to move by regularly, we are more likely to maintain the mobility of our joints as we age.
Teaching a child, the importance of movement and how to move with ease with good quality movement patterns will help through their childhood, teenage years, and adulthood to stay healthy.
Why should children do Pilates:
- To gain awareness of their body
It is at this point children begin to formulate the physical attributes that they will take through life. Posture, the way they walk, sit, stand and even reach for items. The principles of Pilates contribute to establishing body awareness, ensuring that children become more aware of their bodies in space. The bodies of children are constantly changing, Pilates will also contribute to children becoming aware of the changes occurring in their anatomy.
- Learn how to move
How children move dictates how the body develops as they grow. For instance, if they do not use their spine to its full range of movement but spend a lot of time sitting still it will get stiffer. With Pilates, children learn how to move efficiently and gracefully. They also learn to control their movement, reducing the chances of injury or developing stiff weak muscles.
- Back health
Developing a strong core and back will assist children during their schooling where most of their time is spent seated or carrying heavy backpacks. Pilates will help strengthen the core and back muscles reducing the chances of back pain in later stages of life.
- Injury prevention in sports
Pilates contributes to a balanced musculature that can alleviate pain and reduce the potential for injury now and as children continue to develop. Pilates helps strengthen all the muscle groups both deep and superficial. This ensures children have an adequate amount of strength to participate in extramural activities at schools. This means that getting children moving and exercising can help their health throughout their life.
Breathing will assist in reducing stress in children and encourage the practice of a relaxed state of mind. It gives children the opportunity to focus on themselves and feel confident about how they are developing.
- Posture and alignment
Through Pilates, children can also develop a good posture or improve their posture.
When is the best time to start resistance training? This is a question many parents ask due to the great debate around the topic. Due to Pilates being a low impact form of exercise it is a very safe way to get your children’s muscles working well. The best way to ensure that children and teenagers are safe doing strength exercises is to teach the correct technique and form.
Benefits of Pilates group classes for kids:
Children are even more motivated to complete tasks when they are working with other children. Positive competition is also encouraging for children.
It increases a child’s confidence as they perform exercises in the presence of other children.
- Structure and discipline
Children tend to follow instructions easily in the presence of their fellow peers. It also encourages children to be more disciplined when it comes to performing exercises.
Children start communicating easily with each other which contributes to social interaction reducing the chances of children struggling with social anxiety.
Exercising in a group can be exciting; it also allows for a variety of games to be played holding a child’s attention span for a longer period.
What does a child’s Pilates program include:
The way in which Pilates programs are offered to children are different to that of the adult population. Due to the short attention span in children the programs are designed in forms of games and storytelling to keep children intrigued.
Pilates programs for children include various activities which contribute to child development such as:
With constant changes or particularly sudden growth spurts, it can cause poor coordination and difficulty balancing. We even see children who could previously perform an activity very well and with control, struggle with it as they grow, purely because their body is in a different position and they must re-learn the coordination, therefore these aspects are of utmost importance in a child’s program.
When Joseph Pilates developed his exercises, he envisaged that it would be taught to children from a young age to foster good movement habits.
Pilates can be beneficial not only for adults but for your children as well, contributing to their body and mind wellness as they develop. The earlier we start investing in our children’s well-being the better.
Allowing children to join beneficial physical activities will result in them carrying it out throughout their life reducing the chances of them becoming sedentary individuals.