Saturday, November 3, 2012

Glow Sticks Workout in the Dark for Kids

Glow in the Dark Exercise Fun for Kids - Photo by Eirik Solheim at Wikimedia Commons
How can you make exercise fun, exciting, and cool for kids? Give each child two glow sticks, turn out the lights, and have a blast! This glow sticks workout can put a huge amount of excitement into an exercise routine for children. My kids gave this one 5 1/2 stars!

Supplies for Glow in the Dark Exercise
  • Small glow sticks (I found some packs of bracelet-sized glow sticks at Dollar Tree at 15 for $1.00, so this one doesn't have to break the bank!)
  • Artificial light source (if needed)
  • Music (if desired)
This workout can be done inside or outside, depending on the time of class and season of the year. Ensure that any safety hazards are removed or blocked from the area. You might want to remind kids to hold their glow sticks securely and to avoid throwing them or placing them into their nose, ears, or any other place that might seem tempting to a kid.

It is a good idea to add some artificial lighting, depending on how dark the area is. A string of white Christmas tree lights or a couple of lamps work well to provide just a bit of light without detracting from the overall mood. It helps to have a fully lit area nearby, such as a hallway, closet, or porch, just in case any kids are scared of the dark.

My kids sometimes get frightened in the dark, but they didn't show a hint of being scared with this workout. They were having way too much fun! We did this in a workout room that had mirrors on two sides with Christmas lights strung around the edges. Very cool effect!

I first tried this glow-in-the-dark workout around Halloween. The days are getting shorter around my neck of the woods and I wanted to throw a fun twist on some exercises we had done in the past. You could easily turn this into a completely Halloween-themed workout with all Halloween-type songs. I picked a mix of songs for this one.

This workout can be as simple as letting the kids freestyle dance, play hide-and-go-seek or tag in the dark, or you might want to try these songs with exercise ideas below. The following playlist takes about 30 minutes, but you can easily play favorite ones twice or add a few picks of your own to stretch it into a 45-minute or 1-hour workout.

Fun Exercise Ideas for Children - Photo by Brocken Inaglory at Wikimedia Commons
Under the Sea
This one is a great warmup song. You can make waves with the glow sticks, mixing it up by going to each side and to the front. Swimming strokes look cool with the glow sticks too. We tried: crawl, breast stroke, back stroke, side stroke, underwater (starting at the center low and reaching as high as possible and taking the arms wide on the way down). You can also have the kids try some fun activities like pretending to be a shark, octopus, crab, or other sea creature.

Silly Songs for Kid's Workout - Photo by Socceronly at Wikimedia Commons
Witch Doctor
The Chipmunks have a newer version of Witch Doctor that the kids absolutely love. It's got a great beat! This song is fun for big moves like: reach up high/reach down low, squats, lunges, jumping jacks, and jumping rope (twirling the glow sticks as your rope). You might try adding silly twists like having them to do those activities like a chipmunk or to dance like a chipmunk. Have the kids give their coolest Chipmunk pose at the end!

Fun Drumming Exercises - Photo by vinca bravo at Wikimedia Commons
Turn the glow sticks into drumsticks! Drum some bongos down low. Go side to side. Drum up high. Twist to each side. Hit a top hat on the top corner and then drum down to the middle, alternating sides. Turn the elbows out to the side and watch the drumsticks look like bright-colored fans! This one is especially nice if you don't have much space because you can stand in one place for the whole song.
Silly Workouts for Kids - Photo by chad davis at Wikimedia Commons
Have the kids hold the sticks in the middle and start kickboxing! Add some jabs, hooks, upper cuts, roll with the punches, and then take the elbows out to the side. You might try punching imaginary blocks or bricks. Vary the upper body moves by changing the speed and/or direction of the punches. Lift the knees or kick while pulling the arms down when the legs come up. If you have lots of room, have everyone start at the back, turn sideways, and punch up to the front and then have everyone punch to the back using the other arm to lead.

Halloween Workout Songs - Photo by XFONG at Wikimedia Commons
This one is awesome for playing follow the leader. Have the kids line up behind you and begin walking around the room. Starting moving the arms in different ways. The kids catch on really quick! Instead of walking in a straight line or circle, mix it up by snaking through the area, adding twists and turns after everyone is following in the line. If you have older kids, you might try jogging, galloping, or skipping. Near the end of the song, slow down and get sneaky!

Great Fitness Songs for Children - Photo by Geoff Pick at Wikimedia Commons
Rockin Robin
This one can really get everyone hopping! Take the heels front, heels side, toes front, and toes side. You might have the kids add huge moves with the arms like big arm circles in various directions. You can also add jumping jacks, jump rope, and a freestyle dance here. If you have extra time, add a freeze dance portion where everyone freezes when you hit the pause button. I always let everyone start dancing again when I'm doing an exercise class – to me, it is all about fitness and not competition. You can also do some fun things like flapping the arms like a bird and hopping around in circles.

Fun Workout Ideas - Photo by Chris Gin at Wikimedia Commons
Voice of Truth
Have the kids make waves with the glow sticks. Swing the arms side to side. Turn around in a circle with the arms low. Try the circle again with the arms high. Keep the arms together or spread them wide as you turn. This is a fun opportunity for the kids to use their imagination and act out the song or add other moves like lining up and waving the arms in various ways in a rhythm. Pair up the kids and have them be mirror images. You might also add some balance positions or standing yoga stretches while this song plays.

Inspire Kids to Live Healthy Lifestyle - Photo by Ryan McFarland at Wikimedia Commons
Wind Beneath My Wings
Have the kids get in a large circle and sit down for deeper stretches on the floor. Straighten the legs to the front and reach. Take the legs in a V shape and reach to the center and each side. Place the soles of the feet together and hinge forward. Cross the legs and twist the upper body. Take both glow sticks in on hand and reach up and then behind the back while reaching the other hand under and behind the back. See if the kids can transfer the sticks from one hand to the other – watch as they master this one! You might also try stretches while on the hands and knees like cat/cow or breathing exercises like the lion breath.

This glow sticks workout in the dark was a huge hit with the kids. With just a few preparations and a couple of inexpensive props, you can transform hum-drum exercises into an awesome workout that just might have the kids begging to do it again and again! Any of these exercises can be modified for special needs.

Readers may also wish to read Tips for Getting Fit Together as a Family and Playground Provide Fun Fitness Opportunity for Kids and Who? on this blog. Find Katrena's exercise playlists, fitness ideas, and more at Fit Tips 4 Life.

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