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Kids should do these 5 warm-ups before exercising

Warming up before exercise is just as important for kids and teens as it is for adults. The practice helps get the body ready for more vigorous exercise or a game. A warm-up only needs to be about five or ten minutes in duration. Warm-up exercises increase the heart and respiratory rate, raise muscle temperature, and bring more blood and oxygen to the muscles. All these things combine to prepare the body for a workout, practice, or game.

In addition to exercises, a warm-up can constitute a gentler version of the activity the child is about to do. A light jog can be a warm-up for soccer practice while a relaxed lap around the pool may be a warm-up for a more rigorous swim lesson or meet. It’s also a good idea for warm-up exercises to include a bit of light stretching or yoga. Whether your kid is getting ready for a big game or the family is gearing up for a 5K, incorporate these five warm-up exercises for kids before game time.

Girls doing warm-up exercises
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Best warm-up exercises for kids

Arm circles

Arm circles are super simple but go a long way toward waking up the upper body for exercise. This exercise is especially important for sports like tennis, lacrosse, softball, and baseball, where kids will be working their arms and shoulders.

Kids should stand with their feet shoulder-width apart. Extend their arms out from the shoulders. Using both extended arms, make small circles. As the exercise progresses, the circles become bigger. After about a minute of arm circles, reverse the exercise and have kids complete the arm circles in the opposite direction.


Kids may call them butt kicks, while adults into aerobics call the exercise kickbacks. Regardless of the name, this straightforward warm-up exercise gets the blood pumping in the lower body. With feet shoulder-width apart, kids just take turns bringing a leg up to their rear. Repeat the exercise for 20 reps.

little girl doing yoga poses as an exercise warm-up
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Yoga stretches

While warming up for yoga may seem counterproductive, using certain yoga poses as a warm-up is a great choice. Gentle yoga does exactly what a warm-up is supposed to do, wake up the muscles while getting blood and oxygen flowing. Adding these simple yoga stretches to a team or family warm-up is a win-win for all.

  • Cat-cow – Get down on a mat, ground, or floor on all fours. While breathing in, round the back up slowly while bringing the chin to the chest. On the exhale, bring the chest down and chin up while bringing the shoulder blades together. Repeat the flowing motion three or four times.
  • Bridge – Lay down and bend your knees, placing them hip-width apart. On an inhale, place the feet firmly on the ground and push the hips up. Exhaling, bring the hips back down to the ground. Repeat the motion three or four times.
  • Chair – Stand up straight with toes touching. Then, bend the knees back as if sitting in a chair while bringing the arms outstretched overhead. Repeat three to four times.
  • Downward dog – Start in a plank position and push hips up while extending the arm with the head pointing down. Don’t force the knees straight or heels to the ground.

Other gentle yoga stretches to include in a warm-up for kids before exercise are tabletop, tree, and the butterfly pose.

Jumping jacks

Once kids have stretched with a little yoga and warmed up the upper and lower body, the warm-up exercises can get a bit more active. Jumping jacks are easy and certainly get the heart pumping. Jumping jacks are a perfect fit for warm-ups because the exercise utilizes both the arms and legs. Ten to 15 jumping jacks is an energetic part of a warm-up.

Side steps

Side steps are ideal for getting kids ready for lateral movements in practice and games. The exercise is simple as well because all you have to do is step out sideways and bring the other leg over to meet. Side steps are a bit slower than jumping jacks and a basic exercise to wrap up a warm-up. To make side steps a bit more challenging, you can turn the step into a jump.

Other warm-up exercises

To keep a warm-up fresh for kids, you might want to change up the exercises. Squats, toe-touches sitting or standing, walking lunges, and knee hugs standing or walking can be used to mix up the routine.

If your child is a part of a travel team in any sport, warm-up exercises are generally a part of practice and the pregame agenda. Just from the repetition of multiple practices and games, kids are used to doing warm-ups before hitting the field, ice, or pool. For kids and teens exercising or training at home, incorporating warm-up exercises into a workout routine is vital. Properly warming up the muscles can prevent injuries and help get the body ready for a vigorous workout or a game. These five warm-up exercises for kids are easy to do and get the muscles in the upper and lower body warm. A great way to get kids and teens used to doing warm-up exercises prior to their workout is to get them in the habit by including them when the family exercises together. So, before the next family bike ride or run, start off with a fun warm-up to get everyone ready for a safer workout.

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Dawn Miller
Dawn Miller began her professional life as an elementary school teacher before returning to her first love, writing. In…
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