Stability Ball Exercises for Children
Children will enjoy the fun of adding a stability ball to their exercise time. Stability balls are large balls that are sometimes called exercise balls, therapy balls or Swiss balls. They come in a variety of sizes for children and adults, so select one in which your child can sit on the center of the ball with his hips and knees at a 90-degree angle and feet flat on the floor. With a properly sized stability ball, he's ready to participate in fun and beneficial exercises.
Trunk extensions help tone core muscles. Core muscles are the deep abdominal and back muscles that stabilize and support the body as it moves. To perform this exercise, an adult places some toys or small objects on the floor next to the stability ball. The child then lies on her stomach on the ball while the adult holds her by the hips. The child reaches down to pick up the objects on the floor and then extends forward to place them on a nearby table.
The hand crawl exercise also develops strength in arm and core muscles. The child lies on his stomach on the therapy ball, with his hands touching the floor. Then he uses his hands to push himself around in a circle.
The Superman exercise aids in improving posture and balance. The child lies on her stomach on the therapy ball. She then extends her legs and arms straight out so her body is fully extended. If doing this exercise with both arms and legs is too difficult, she can raise her right leg and her left arm, then alternate them.
Basic Ball Skills
Children can exercise and practice basic ball skills with a stability ball. The large size of a stability ball makes it simple for young children to learn skills such as throwing and catching. Movements can be added to make the exercises more challenging as the child becomes more proficient. Children can perform drills and relay races or play games in which they bounce the ball to one another. Eye-hand coordination can be addressed by having the child pass the ball to another child while stepping in a sideways motion. Kicking the ball develops coordination and leg muscles. Even toddlers can learn basic ball skills by rolling the ball to another person and then putting their arms out to receive it back.
Brenda Hagood has been a writer and speech therapist since 1982, and a nonprofit director. She wrote manuals for Total Learning Curriculum and enjoys health, education and family life research. Hagood holds a bachelor's degree in communicative disorders from California State University, Fullerton, and a master's degree in speech pathology from Loma Linda University.