By Julia Vinokur

Even though our children have different athletic activities outside of the school, such as gymnastics and dance, I really wanted them to have a small gym at home where they could release energy at any time.   I also wanted them to start using it really early, even before I could sign them up for the activities.   Consistent physical exercises make your child healthier, improve posture, and develop flexibility and muscle strength.

Why is a home gym beneficial?

Physical activity is crucial for children at any age.  If twenty years ago it was given that children exercised constantly by playing outside, nowadays it is becoming challenging.  More and more kids prefer to spend time by TV or a Computer rather than playing outdoors.  The situation is not much better once they enter preschools and regular schools.  Not all childcare and preschool facilities have adequate gym space and outdoor playgrounds, and even if they do, because of tight schedules children do not spend enough time moving, jumping, hanging, and running.   Thirty minutes per day is just not enough.

It is easier during summer time, when outdoor playgrounds are available.  But what to do during cold winter months when kids spend more time indoors?  Having a home gym is a great solution! Children can get there any time for as long as they want.  Ten minutes gym break in between homework assignments is a very good break for their eyes, muscles, and brain.

Home gym not only allows children to develop physically.  Exercise has a great influence on growth and brain development.  From the time a child starts to crawl, a home gym can satisfy a child’s need to constantly move.   Children’s body is a very smart ‘mechanism’, and it can determine for itself intensity and frequency of needed physical activities.  If demands are not met, a child can become irritated, moody, or even sleep deprived; lack of concentration, slow reaction time and even weaker immune system can follow.

There is a gym for every household

There are several options that can be implemented depending on the space you have.  The most important thing is to have it available for children all the time.  The earlier such a gym can appear in child’s life, the better.
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1. If there is no space available for gym, simple gymnastic rings may be a good option.   Make sure you place them correctly on the doorway, and your child can twist, swing, jump, flip and hang on them.  Most of these rings can support heavy weights, so there will be no fear of damaging the doorway:  http://dreamgym.wordpress.com/2009/05/17/doorway-swing/

 

gym2. This climbing wall and monkey bars up very little space, but offer a lot more flexibility: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/162974080239133926/

 

 

 

dreamgym13. Do-it-yourself home gym kits include all the necessary hardware, plan for building, and instructions.  It takes much bigger space to set up, so can be installed in a spare room, attic or basement that children have access to:http://dreamgym.wordpress.com/2009/12/03/do-it-yourself-home-gym-for-kids/

 

 

 

4. Here is another site that offers variety of home gyms for children, depending on your needs and space.  We have one of their smaller models at home for the past few years, and have been happy with it.  Assembly takes time, but this is not a permanent installation and can therefore be moved to a different room or a new house without damaging the floor or ceiling:   http://www.limikids.com/home-gym-gallery

Safety

The most important thing to remember is safety. Protective surfacing is intended to cushion falls and prevent serious injuries caused by any children’s gym used indoors (and outside, for that matter). The amount of a consistent type of surfacing required is based on the critical height or fall height of the equipment, which is the height of the highest designated play surface on the equipment. interlocking tiles Common indoor surfaces (such as rugs, tumbling mats, or carpet) are not adequate cushioning for gross motor equipment.  Ideally, the best surfacing would be material that was tested for use under play equipment, such as the rubber-like tiles designed for outdoor playgrounds. At our house, we use a double layer of interlocking foam tiles (such as those found in building centers or toy stores).  With a double layer, they are able to cushion falls of 4 feet, which seems acceptable for our installation, and offers surface protection similar to that of a dense foam mat.  Obviously, until you know your kids are comfortable using the equipment, and have enough judgment to avoid rough play, adult supervision is important.

 

Good luck exercising!