Stand with your legs hip width apart. Take a deep cleansing breath and bend over at your waist. Look down at the ground and let your upper body hang. Pull your belly button in gently to protect your lower back. Let the weight of your upper body pull you down toward the floor.
Then start moving your arms in random circular patterns (doesn’t matter how your arms swing) while still looking down. Let go of the tension in your next and shoulders. Stop moving your arms after 20 to 30 seconds. Breathe in and as you breathe out, try to lower your hands toward the floor until you reach a gentle stretch. Breathe in and as you breathe out, roll back up one vertebrae at a time.
Poor Balance: Lean back against a wall or sit in a chair with your feet flat on the ground, shoulder width apart.
Ask youth to stand up and clasp their own hands together. Then ask them to take a deep breath in, turn their palms out and breathe out as they stretch their arms away and in front of their bodies. Encourage them to stretch their shoulder blades apart while bringing their chins down to their chests. When they are ready to breathe in again, ask them to move their shoulders up, then roll them back and down, as they release their hands and bring them down to their sides. Continue breathing. Finish by asking them to raise their heads to look up at you and slightly tuck their chins in (as if their head is a drawer, sliding into a dresser). Repeat. Important: Make sure youth are maintaining a good posture. To do a posture check, ask youth to stand against a wall. Their heels, hips, shoulders and the back of their heads should all be touching the wall. Ask them to tuck their chins in slightly, hold the position and step away from the wall.
When youth are in a single-file line (on the way to lunch, gym, music class, etc.), have the leader make a gesture as he or she starts walking (example: raising arms above head and bringing them back down to the side). Make sure each gesture is something that can be done as the youth walk. After the leader finishes the gesture, the next person in line follows by doing the same gesture (the “domino effect”). The next person can do the gesture only after the person ahead has finished. When the leader thinks everyone has had a chance to move, he or she can start the next move; however, the leader can choose how long to wait before starting the next move. A small break between moves can be more fun! The line can also move in an s-shaped pattern.
Play one school-appropriate song and encourage youth to move! Make sure they have enough room to move around the room. Show youth how to do the twist, jump, lawn mower, wave, water sprinkler and high knees.
Have students lie on their back with arms and legs straight up in the air. Instruct them to tighten their abdominal muscles or pull their belly button in (engage abs), then have students lower their right leg and left arm at the same time while leaving their opposite arm and leg in a stationary position. Instruct them to switch back and forth and remember to keep breathing.
Instruct students to stand with their feet shoulder width apart and their hands on their hips. Have them be sure to keep their stomach muscles tight and their back straight in line with your hips. Tell them to lunge forward with one foot, being sure to keep the knee straight in line with the ankle. Remind them not to let the knee go over the toe when they lunge. Have them slowly squat down, gently touching their back knee to the ground, and slowly raise their body back to standing. Step forward and repeat with the opposite leg in front. They can perform the lunges in place, or they can start at one end of the hallway or gymnasium and perform the exercise across the space available. To make the exercise more challenging, students can put their hands above their heads, or even hold a medicine ball, or a heavier object to add more resistance.
Have students stand with their feet shoulder width apart. Instruct them to squat down (as though they are pretending to sit down a chair), being sure to keep their stomach muscles tight and their backs straight to prevent injury. Using their arms for counter-balance, they can reach out. Tell them to slowly squat down until their knees are bent to 90 degrees, and knees do not go past their toes, hold for a count of 3 seconds and slowly stand back up. Do sets of 8-10 repetitions. You could encourage the students to also incorporate doing squats during a TV commercial, or doing a set of 10 here and there throughout the day.
Poor balance: perform squats by holding on to the back of a chair or counter for balance
perform with back against wall
Impaired leg strength:
decrease range of motion to 45 degrees
if you do not have enough strength to come fully to standing, do a much as you can using your legs as much as possible and arms to assist (move to a partial standing position)
Have students move so they have room to use the edge of their chair. Have each student grip the edge of chair with legs extended out in front of the chair. The student will then lower their body down toward the ground, (keep back close to the chair edge) while bending at the elbows, lower down until elbows are approximately 90 degrees, then straighten elbows while bringing the body back up to starting position. A good example to explain this activity to students would be to pretend they are scratching their backs (from bottom to top on the way down and top to bottom on the way up) against the edge of the chair, their back however should not actually touch the chair edge, but be very close.
Wheelchair push-ups or use a chair with arms rests and pressing arms straight. Bend knees and use legs to help support.
Establish a new daily rule every day that includes physical activity. Lunge to the water fountain, tip toe to the pencil sharpener, stretch before sitting down, or hop 5 times when getting out of your seat. Eventually the students can start making the rule.
If you have youth who use a wheelchair, provide them with options of a “daily rule” to bring them into the game!
When the students line up against the wall to leave the classroom or other designated place, have each student face the wall and perform 10 wall push-ups. After all push-ups are completed the class can walk in line.
Do push-ups from a seated position by using a desk or table.