As a PILATES instructor, I am all about core strength!   You can pay an arm and a leg for specialized classes to improve your child’s core strength, but there are lots of easy ways to strengthen the core through simple play at home.  We’re talking about all of the fun stuff your kids might already be doing that really target those core muscles and make them strong.  But first, let’s get a refresher about why strong tummy, back, and pelvic muscles are so crucial.

Core strengthening is essential for the progression of other developmental skills and is the center of control for everything else the body does.  In order to keep your balance, perform coordinated movements on both sides of the body, sit up straight in a chair, control a pencil or scissors, or jump, you need a strong core!

So let’s explore some of the ways that your child can build core strength every single day through play!

Picking up objects from the floor.  Do you know that you can’t squat down to retrieve an object from the floor without engaging your core muscles?  Yep, it’s true.  Whether kids are competing in a relay race where they have to retrieve an object from the ground and return it to a container…or just cleaning up toys in the living room, they’re strengthening their core!

Climbing up a slide or climbing on other playground equipment.   Climbing up the slide rocks for so many areas of motor and sensory development, including helping to form a strong middle!

Rolling down a hill.  Or – for an extra core challenge – try rolling UP the hill!  Any rolling at all is just plain old kid fun and great for core strengthening.

Lifting something heavy.  Kids can help bring groceries in from the car or take out the garbage – or make it even more fun – can they use a sheet to make a swing with two friends (two to hold the ends and one friend in the middle)?

Pushing and pulling activities.   Pushing a chair out of the way to sweep after dinner, pulling a heavy laundry basket across the room to move it out of the way, pushing a sibling or friend (or stuffed animal!) in a stroller or pulling them in a wagon.

Being on all fours.  Give your child a section of the floor to scrub squeaky clean!  They will love the responsibility and they will get a hefty dose of core work.  Playing in an all fours position also works – try doing a puzzle or playing a board game in this position.

Doing somersaults!

Climbing the stairs on all fours.  My kids love to race up the stairs this way – little do they know that they’re also getting a great core workout!

Climbing trees

Riding a bike

Sweeping or mopping floors, raking leaves, or shoveling snow

Most kids develop adequate core strength simply by being kids and engaging in play activities like the ones listed above.  Unfortunately, due to busy schedules, an increase in screen time, and a variety of other reasons, we’re seeing less and less of this kind of play in kids today.  And we’re seeing more and more kids in therapy who need intervention targeted at building the core muscles.