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Fun Ways to Bring Fitness Home!By Miss Amy
Recently, Kathy O’Connell host of my favorite children’s radio show WXPN’s ‘Kids Corner’, played a bit by Bill Cosby from his “Wonderfulness” cd called “Playground”. Essentially it is a rant from his inner child’s perspective about a conspiracy parents are a part of in encouraging kids to play on playgrounds while they themselves are never seen doing so. The first thing that came to my mind while listening is “why not?” Why don’t adults play? Perhaps if we played more and our children saw us swinging from the monkey bars, we would be a fitter nation.
First Lady Michelle Obama just announced her inspiring “Let’s Move” initiative in February encouraging us all to do just that! “Let’s Move has an ambitious but important goal: to solve the epidemic of childhood obesity within a generation.” The four main components of the program aim to 1) give parents the support they need, 2) provide healthier food in schools, 3) help our kids to be more physically active and 4) make healthy, affordable food available in every part of our country.
Much of the responsibility of our families becoming fitter falls to us parents. We can lead by example but it will take a concentrated effort on our part. Are you thinking, “How can I possibly fit one more thing onto our calendar?” I have the same concern. That’s why I’ve come up with fun ways to fit fitness in (see below). We all know the benefits of regular exercise are undeniable and can lead to better quality of life for everyone in the family. But did you know that exercise gives us stronger bones, stronger muscles, improves cognitive function, encourages better sleep, promotes weight control and elevates our mood?
So let’s make it fun and work toward a goal. Join the President’s Challenge Program and earn your President’s Active Lifestyle Award. Here’s how to get started. If we all exercise 5 times a week for 6 weeks, we can jumpstart (!) a lifetime of fitness for all of us. Children 18 and younger should be getting 60 minutes of vigorous exercise every day; we grown-ups need a minimum of 30 minutes a day. In addition to your family walks, bicycle rides, and structured sports here are five easy ways to bring the fun of fitness to your family.
5 EASY WAYS FOR PARENTS TO BRING FITNESS HOME!
1. FAMILY HOME RECESS
Have “family recess”. Get a coaches whistle and set the kitchen timer for 15 minutes. Have a designated bin of recess items: jump ropes, bouncy ball, hula-hoop, chalk for hopscotch. Take turns being “the Coach” and choosing what activities to do. How many times can you jump rope without missing? Can you pass the ball to each other with one bounce, two bounces, and no bounces? Who can hula-hoop? If you can’t yet hula-hoop on the waist – try it on the arm or try jumping through it. Lay out the hoops on the driveway and practice jumping from one to the other. Play a game of Red Light/Green Light. Ask your child to show you a game he/she learned on the playground.
2. JUMPING JACK FLASH
Each time a commercial comes on, get up and do jumping jacks. This type of basic plyometrics or jump training gives us stronger more powerful muscles! Did you know that the FCC regulates how much commercial time is allowed during kid’s television programs? For every hour of programming, there are 10.5 minutes of ads on weekdays and 12 minutes of ads on weekends. That is a significant amount of time our children are sitting still for a sales pitch. Turn this time into productive time. Count how many jacks you can do at each break. If regular jacks are too strenuous, start with the low-impact jack by doing the basic arm movement with heel taps instead of jumps. Keep a tally. Who can do the most during a commercial? Can you beat your own best number?
3. DANCE TEAM
Can you do a crazy dance to your favorite Miss Amy song without stopping? For ideas on dances and suggested activities – see www.MissAmyKids.com or listen to the music free online at Lastfm.
4. OBSTACLE COURSE
Set up your own outdoor obstacle course. Recycle plastic bottles (fill with colored water) to designate different stations and use as cones. Start with 5 stations:
a. Hopscotch alley - draw out a jump board in a safe spot. See ideas here.
b. Super Sprint – sprint the length of the driveway and back
c. Ball Bounce – bounce for 2 minutes straight. For more of a challenge bend at the waist and have the ball bounce no higher than your knees. Can you do it around some cones?
d. Jacks – Jumping jacks for 2 minutes straight. If you get too tired – do low-impact version as described above.
e. Zig Zag – Make a crepe paper zigzag path, around a tree, up the hill, under the swing set… Use your imagination and let the kids help you do the set-up for fun! Then take turns doing the course in giant steps, baby steps, backwards and sprinting.
5. BE YOUR OWN MARCHING BAND!
Crank up the CD player and grab your favorite noisemaker: kazoos, pots, pans, or shakers. If your child is learning how to play an instrument – use that one! March through a whole song and bring those knees up to at least waist level. To really get you in the mood – try some music by John Phillip Sousa!
Notice that to get your fitness regime going, you’ll need to invest a little time, up front, to organize and get supplies. Now that garage sale season is just around the corner, be on alert for outdoor toys to cut your costs. Also, think about recycling those tired indoor toys to a final season outdoors. And post these ideas on your fridge, so you will always have something to suggest to the kids. Let the games begin and have fun!!!
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