Articles for Parents

Everything listed under: exercise

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    10 Tips for Getting Fit as a Family

    There seems to be constant buzz about how little time busy families spend together. Even during summertime, between work, screens, music, sports, and other commitments, families stay on the go.

    According to “The State of Obesity: Better Policies for Healthier America” survey released in 2015, some 78 million Americans are obese, which puts them at an increased risk of health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. 

    In 2018, the adult obesity rate was at or above 35% in seven states and at least 30% in 29 states - but in 1980, no state had an adult obesity rate above 15 percent. Among children and teenagers, 31.8 percent were overweight or obese and nearly 17 percent were obese, including 5 percent of children between the ages of 6 and 11 and 6.5 percent of those between the ages of 12 and 19 who were severely obese. 

    "In order to build a national Culture of Health, we must help all children, no matter who they are or where they live, grow up at a healthy weight," said former Robert Wood Johnson Foundation President and CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey. "We know that when we take comprehensive steps to help families be more active and eat healthier foods, we can see progress."

    Regular exercise, adequate rest and healthy eating can be the difference in a family that lives, plays, learns and works well together and one that does not. 

    “Research shows that children need regular exercise to build strong bones and muscles,” says Teresa Wade, Health and Fitness Director at the Sports Barn. “Exercise also helps children sleep well at night and stay alert during the day. Habits such as these, established in childhood, help adolescents maintain healthy weight despite the hormonal changes and social influences that can lead to overeating. Active children are more likely to become fit adults.”

    Getting your family in shape does not have to be costly, but it does require you to move away from the screens and do something. Here are some suggestions for busy families who want to get and stay active during the summer months.

    • Schedule a regular time throughout the week for physical activity. 
    • Take turns selecting a weekly family activity. 
    • Start a log of daily fitness activities for each family member. 
    • Adapt all activities to suit those with special needs and preferences. 
    • Help everyone find something active that makes them feel successful. 
    • Buy equipment or toys that promote physical activity.
    • Discover what free and low-cost physical activity spots are nearby (park, bike trail, hiking trail, tennis court, swimming pool, etc.). 
    • Limit screen-time.
    • Use physical activity as a reward instead of food (e.g. Family goes skating). 
    • Emphasize the importance of having fun and learning. Avoid a push "to win." 

    “I encourage families to slow down a bit, schedule time in your week to be active together - actually pencil your family into your planner,” Wade says. “If you wait for it to happen, it isn’t going to happen. Believe it or not, exercise can be fun. Start slowly with something like walking or biking in the neighborhood. When my grandchildren are with me, we often take a walk around the block at night before we go to bed. It is a wind-down time and helps us connect before the end of the day.”

    This article was originally published in the Chattanooga Times Free Press on May 31, 2019.

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    Pokemon GO!

    When you're out and about, chances are good that you'll see people walking around playing Pokémon Go on their phones. The best estimate is around 9.5 million people are leaving the comforts of home and braving the intense summer heat to play this game on a daily basis.

    Some complain about the gaming app for various reasons - people coming on private property, those who are distracted and walk into crowded intersections, the driver who hit a parked police cruiser while trying to catch Pokémon, and those who are distracted at work. But, it seems there are some real positive outcomes for people, thanks to Pokémon Go.

    For example, one mother encouraged her son to exercise for years, but to no avail. The first day he played the game, he walked 4 1/2 miles. Another mother shared this on her Facebook page:

    "I finally introduced Ralphie to Pokémon Go tonight. She was right. This thing is AMAZING. After he caught his first one at the bakery, he was shrieking with excitement. MY AUTISTIC CHILD IS SOCIALIZING. Talking to people. Smiling at people. Verbalizing. Participating in pragmatic speech. With total strangers.”

    Who knew that a game app would end up bringing so many benefits to people? Doctors have been trying for decades to convince people to stop being couch potatoes. Many parents have been trying to figure out ways to help their children engage with others. Neuroscientists have been saying that, in order for their brains to function best, people need to get outside, take in the fresh air and see the real world.

    Those who play the game are talking about how many miles they walked, how many Pokémon they caught and the things they have seen that they had no idea existed until now. The app has the potential to bring about massive change in the areas of socialization, exercise and enjoying nearby surroundings.

    An additional benefit is it doesn’t matter how old you are. Everybody can play, so it could be a great way for parents, grandparents and children or teens to play together. Make it a family outing. There truly is something engaging and energizing when you are interacting and playing with your children.

    It’s also a great way to get a walk in without having officially exercise. Plus, it allows you to connect with your kids and do something they enjoy. The game also lends itself to visiting sites around town which allows everybody to learn something new.

    Not surprisingly, research indicates families who play together experience greater emotional bonding and cohesion within the family, which leads to a higher level of connectedness between family members. This is a good thing, especially during the teen years when parents often find it difficult to connect with their teenager.

    The adventures a family can have playing Pokémon Go are rife for creating great memories. If you aren’t sold yet, have your kids teach you how to play. The fun you have may surprise you.