Physical Education Warm-ups for Children

Physical education warm-ups serve as physical and psychological preparation for the performance of any sport. Here are some common exercises.
Physical Education Warm-ups for Children

Last update: 31 December, 2021

Warm-ups are the exercises that people do before starting a sporting activity. With these activities, the body begins to move slowly and progressively and prepares itself for the main sporting task. And, in this way, injuries are avoided. Through physical education warm-ups, blood circulation is activated and body temperature is regulated. Muscles and joints are stretched and activated to meet the demands of physical activity.

Why are physical education warm-ups for children important?

Children don’t need a lot of movement to warm up. They’re more flexible than adults and have less risk of injury. However, the warm-up tasks help the body and are essential as a part of psychological preparation.

Getting children used to a warm-up routine is useful in order to prepare the body, as it works on strength and muscular flexibility. It’s also necessary to help their concentration.

Some specific benefits:

  • Children gradually increase their body temperature, which is necessary for physical activities.
  • Physical education warm-ups boost enzymatic activity and the amount of circulating glucose.
  • They stimulate the rapidity of muscle movements, especially contractions.
  • These exercises increase the coordination of the body in general.
  • They’re good for the breathing rate.
  • They reduce anxiety and fatigue.
  • They contribute to concentration and the focus of attention.
A young boys' soccer team on the field.

Despite all this, warm-up activities can be boring for children. If this happens, they’ll be reluctant to take part. Therefore, the best strategy is to carry them out through fun games that prepare kids for the main activity.

Children are always ready to play, therefore, they’ll see this task as entertainment.

The characteristics of physical education warm-up activities

Children generally begin their daily physical activity after a period of inactivity, when the body is relaxed.

To begin, the exercises must be progressive. The level of effort required will be from less to more. It should go from the easy to the difficult, that is, from general to specific.

A warm-up routine will last between 15 minutes and half an hour and it shouldn’t cause fatigue. The activities and their duration will be carefully chosen according to the age of the children.

Examples of warm-up activities for children

Experts recommend completing certain stages in warm-up activities for children.

1. Relaxation and concentration

Before starting any kind of physical activity, it’s important to tune the body and mind. This helps the brain not only to relax from tensions but also to focus on the exercise that’s going to be carried out.

For this, it’s good to sit on the floor for a few minutes and take a series of deliberate and conscious breaths: Inhale deeply through the nose, hold the air for a few seconds in the lungs, and then exhale as long as possible.

If necessary, you can choose to set the mood with appropriate music to acclimate to what’s to come.

2. Joint movements

The movements in each joint will be repeated. They can start at the ankles and work their way up the body. Another option is to start at the wrists and then go down. They’ll cover ankles, knees, hips, torso, shoulders, neck, elbows, and wrists.

These movements consist of flexions, extensions, and rotations of the joints. Some examples are:

  • Rotating the ankles
  • Raising your knees toward your hips.
  • Moving your arms like windmill blades back and forth.
  • Stretching and flexing the arms.

3. Stretches

Stretching prevents bones and muscles from breaking. Some examples of stretches are:

  • Spread your feet, one behind the other. Without bending the trunk, lower gently until the leg is stretched.
  • Clasp your hands behind your back and stretch back.
  • Raise one arm. Bend the other behind your head and grab your elbow. Gently move it to the opposite shoulder.
A woman and four children stretching.

4. Running

Running serves to activate blood circulation. The pace should be smooth, without forcing the children. They must always maintain the same speed. Some modalities are:

  • Run freely through all spaces. Find wide open places where there aren’t other people.
  • Running after another child, always keeping the same distance.
  • Running while jumping over lines drawn on the ground.

5. Cardiovascular exercises

The goal of these exercises is to stimulate the heart rate. A routine that integrates the aforementioned exercises, alternatively and progressively, will be stimulating the cardiovascular system.

For starters, you can start with gentle jogs in place. This progressively activates circulation in the lower limbs.

Later, you can opt for some strength exercises, such as squats or push-ups. As with the previous exercise, they favor the arrival of blood to the muscles involved in the exercise. This activates them and reduces the risk of injury.

A game that entertains children a lot is that of “Simon says…” (jump, run, sit down, get up, touch a partner’s back, lift one leg). This way, you can alternate the different warm-up exercises in a fun way.

About the importance of physical education warm-up exercises

Finally, it’s essential that you tend to the diversity of children, their individual possibilities, and also their limitations in order to avoid frustrations or physical pain. The teacher or monitor who coordinates the warm-up should always keep these factors in mind.

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