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story.lead_photo.caption Sixteen-year-old Meredith Pinkston (left) and her 21-year-old sister, Maggie, compete in the Ball Race on April 29. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Celia Storey)

As we enter another week of home schooling and access to fitness centers is possible but limited, families are itching to be active. Fortunately, spring has sprung its mild conditions: Take advantage of them with some good old-fashioned family fun.

Older kids (age 7 and up) have expanded fitness capabilities compared to their younger brothers and sisters. Their cardiovascular systems are more developed; they have stronger muscles, and their strength-to-body-weight ratio is generally high. Consequently, these kids are more comfortable with workouts that last longer and make greater physical demands.

Older kids also appreciate a psychological challenge. Memory games, treasure maps and "escape room" formats are fun ways to mix some problem-solving into a physical workout. Sure, it takes a little more thought and creativity to plan workouts that involve these types of activities, but the result is usually something that appeals to kids and adults alike.

Many of these "older children" are deeply interested in social media. Workouts that mirror some of the ideas or activities they see online will motivate them. These days, TikTok seems to be the platform of choice for older kids, as they can create short videos of themselves dancing and singing to popular music. Workouts that incorporate a little TikTok video might provide some incentive that otherwise wouldn't be there.

The whole idea is to try to weave kids' interests into the workout. Most will not respond well to a drill-sergeant approach, and older kids can get bored if the workout doesn't stimulate the mind.

This is one of the reasons I like to stage races whenever possible. Races are interactive. They present a challenge, and they give kids the opportunity to "win" — which is always fun.

This week's workout is a fun race format that uses a ball. It can be a medicine ball, basketball, soccer ball or almost any other medium to large ball. If two balls are available, the Ball Race presents a great opportunity for adults to participate alongside their child.

1. Grab two sports balls (soccer ball, medicine ball, basketball) and set up four stations along a straight line outdoors. Each station should be about 5 feet apart.

2. Both participants start at the first station in the pushup position with their ball in front of them. Both perform five pushups, then roll their medicine ball to Station 2 by bear crawling (hands and feet).

3. Once at Station 2, stand up with the medicine ball and perform five squat jumps. Once done, perform squat jumps with the medicine ball to get to Station 3.

4. Once at Station 3, drop into the plank position and pass the ball from one hand to the other until you have completed 10 passes.

5. Now, continue passing the ball back and forth as you bear crawl to Station 4. First one to Station 4 wins!

6. Repeat until tired.

The format of the Ball Race can be adjusted: Set the stations farther apart if space allows. But I like the simplicity of this type of workout because almost anyone can do it or try to do it. It does not require special skills or equipment, and it's appropriate for kids and adults. So, take the opportunity to play outside today.

Matt Parrott has a doctorate in education (sport studies) and a master's in kinesiology and is certified by the American College of Sports Medicine.

Style on 05/04/2020

Print Headline: Make workouts into a game to get kids interested

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