Pediatric and Adolescent Activity FAQs

by Samantha Herrera, DPT and Kelsea Brajkovich Schroeder, DPT

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Frequently Asked Questions


Throughout this past week, we've received many questions pertaining to pediatric and adolescent activity during the time of COVID-19 that we have addressed below!


What if I don’t have enough space or the proper tools for performing exercises within my home? Which part of my home is best to use? What kind of equipment should I use?

This is a great question, and one that we've been asked frequently, especially when many families live in an apartment and those who may be doing school work or working from home must to be taken into consideration. Many of the exercises highlighted in our blog series are able to be completed within a small space inside the home - even as small as the area of a yoga mat! We recommend an area cleared of breakable objects and one that's also cleared of tripping hazards.


There are many exercises you can challenge your body and strength with by just using your body weight, but in case you're ready to progress in resistance, here are a few household items and their approximate weights that you could use instead of having to buy equipment:

  • 16 oz. water bottle = 1 pounds

  • Gallon of water/milk = about 8 pounds

  • Can of soup = 1.5 to 2 pounds

  • Bag of flour or sugar = 4-5 pounds

You can also put some items in your backpack and either hold it in front of you or put it on your back while squatting!


If I am exercising outside, how long should it be?

This is awesome! Keep up the great work completing your exercises outside because even though we are required to wear face coverings, this should not stop someone from getting outside for some fresh air, sunshine and movement. As long as you're keeping with social distancing guidelines, it's highly recommended that you make your way outside at least a few times per day as this can be an instant mood-booster as well. Examples of activities that are great additions to your movement routine performed outside include bicycle rides, running, yoga and body weight exercises for strengthening and bone building.

Children and adolescents ages 6 to 17 years old should be getting at the very least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per day per CDC recommendations. Kids should be participating in aerobic (endurance building) exercises at least 3 days per week and strengthening/bone building exercises at least 3 days per week. For more exercise suggestions to work into your routines, check out these posts:

Window of Opportunity: The Importance of Building Strong Bones in Kids

Optimal Movement Patterns for Strengthening

With the weather getting hotter, precautions should be taken when children or adolescents are working out outside due to lower sweating rates, lower cardiac output and more energy used in a given workout compared to adults. This means you should have that bottle of water handy, choose a shady spot to do your exercises and if you're performing exercises in the sun, give yourself a few breaks in between and aim to schedule your routines in the morning and evening when it's a few degrees cooler for safety.

What if someone is just starting to exercise? What kind of activities should people who are not usually active do so that they begin to get used to active movement?


It doesn’t matter if you are just stepping into a routine of becoming active or if you have been active for quite some time, there's always a form of activity out there for you! The guidelines remain the same, but the moderate to vigorous activity recommendation depends on what your level of fitness is now. This means that your feeling of moderate or vigorous activity may not be the same as the person next to you. If you're just starting out, work in a few shorter bouts of activities in per day, or start out with completing an hour of low-level activity. Starting out this way will allow you to build up your tolerance to movement and increase your heart rate. Keep up a routine, as the development of a good habit starts with doing something consistently for 21 days. So set a goal, make a calendar or consistently put your activity on your to-do list in order to make it a concrete part of your day.


Every exercise can be modified as well! Having trouble jumping? No worries, those jumping jacks can be turned into step-outs. Aren’t quite able to control a full lunge yet? Try just going about halfway to the ground! Check out some of the images and videos of simple body weight exercise modifications below!


Lunge and Mini Lunge


Squat and Mini Squat


Plank and Modified Plank on Knees


Jumping Jacks and Step Out Jack


If I have an injured shoulder, what workouts can or should I be doing?


Generally, there are still ways to improve strength, balance, coordination and flexibility without involving the shoulder in your workouts. This can be done through decreasing or avoiding weight bearing or carrying heavy weights in your arm by performing lower body or core exercises with just body weight. I recommend this for a short period of time, though, say if your shoulder was just sore. But if your shoulder is in pain or you have difficulty and pain lifting your shoulder/arm above shoulder height, it may be time to call your physical therapist to see what else might be going on.


If your shoulder pain is minimal, you can try some partial weight-bearing exercise modifications, such as completing a plank with your arms on a wall or on the bathroom counter instead of on the floor. Starting with an exercise that involves planting your hand against a sturdy object, you begin to "wake up" the muscles in the shoulder and upper back to lightly begin strengthening. If this is still painful, reach out to your physical therapist so they can further assist you with exercise modifications that fit your needs.


If you do not have pain and are looking for a great way to decrease your risk of injury by having strong and stable shoulders, see below for a few great exercises! Don’t have a resistance band? Try it out with a hand towel instead to add a bit of self-supplied resistance!


*Remember to keep your shoulder blades pinching together and down toward your back pockets while performing these sweet moves*


I am at my desk most of the day and have started to have some neck and back pain. What can I do for this?

This seems to be the question we have received most frequently from the younger population being that their time spent in front of a screen has dramatically increased once schooling moved to within their homes.


The first thing to do is to make sure that if you don't have a desk to complete your computer work, make where you complete your work comfortable and conducive to maintaining a good posture. This means you should complete your work in a chair at a table and raise your laptop to where your eyes can easily be in line with where the first two lines of text are on your computer. This will help decrease the amount of time you find yourself leaning forward toward your computer or your chin and neck drifting forward toward your screen as well.


While “good posture” is what we aim for, even those who are strong need to change positions every once in a while to prevent stiffness with prolonged positioning. So go ahead and take a small break to stretch your arms overhead and twist around in your chair each direction to stretch your upper back. Getting up once every 50-90 minutes to stretch, move and grab a glass of water can go a long way in decreasing the effects of sitting for long periods on your neck and back.


Try out some of these stretches and exercises to ease discomfort in your neck and back throughout the day! Still have some pain even after completing these activities for a week or two? Give us a call!


Upper Trapezius Stretch (2 reps x 30 sec hold each side)

You should feel a strong, but comfortable stretch.


Cat/Cow (2 sets x 10 reps)

Start on your hands and knees. Slowly begin to arch your back up toward the ceiling/sky and bend your head downward. Reverse the motion to sink your belly down toward the floor.



Child’s Pose Stretch (2 reps x 30 sec hold)

Start on your hands and knees. Keep your hands where they are and rock backwards to sit your bottom on your heels. Widen your knees if you do not feel a stretch in your back.


Open Book Mobility (2 sets x 10 reps each side)

Start lying on your side with your knees together and bent up towards your chest and arms out in front of you. Lift top arm to open your chest like a book and rotate your eyes, head and neck toward the opening arm.


Feel free to email us with any additional questions about your kids and pediatric and adolescent activity!

samantha@evolution-pt.com (Brentwood Location)

kelsea@evolution-pt.com (Playa Vista/South Bay Location)


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