Yoga isn’t just for grown ups anymore. It serves as another fun, physical activity for kids and it has mental and physical benefits. Check out some of these yoga poses in this infographic!
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Yoga isn’t just for grown ups anymore. It serves as another fun, physical activity for kids and it has mental and physical benefits. Check out some of these yoga poses in this infographic!
It is no secret that children today lead more sedentary lives than their parents and grandparents did. Childhood obesity has more than doubled over the past three decades and screen time is at a record high between television, computers, tablets, video games, and smartphones. While it seems that the days of playing outside and simply “being a kid” are fading away, it’s not too late to turn the ship around. By introducing your kids to exercise routines and showing them how fun being active is, you can make a big difference.
The Centers for Disease Control recommends at least 1 hour per day of physical activity for children and adolescents. That time frame should include mainly aerobic activity, but muscle and bone strengthening exercise is also very important for growing bodies.
Sixty minutes per day is not difficult to achieve if you look for smaller time frames to incorporate activities, like walking to school or participating in organized sports a few days per week. The key is to pick age-appropriate activities that interest your kids so that they will look forward to the activity and form a positive opinion of healthy fitness pursuits.
Not all exercise is appropriate for all ages and some is more beneficial to certain age groups than others. Take a look at what should be the focus of an exercise routine for kids by age:
Working with the smallest of kids to develop motor skills, like crawling, walking, and pulling up to a standing position is enough activity. This is also an important bonding time for parents and babies, so getting down on the floor and playing with infants is beneficial in physical and psychological ways.
A good 90 minutes of daily physical activity is not only helpful for a toddler’s health but benefits parents by providing a release for all of that extra energy. Toddlers learn most in play environments, so structuring just 30 minutes per day of planned physical activity is enough, as long as you provide active outlets for free, creative exploration on the part of the toddler.
This group of kids requires the most amount of physical activity of all the age groups, at 2 hours. They still need an hour of unstructured, creative play but are physically able to handle another hour of planned activity too. Most preschools do have some built-in physical activity, but parents should still find ways to incorporate the difference at home.
As recess times at school decline, it is important that parents find at least 1 hour per day for their kids to exercise. Ideally this exercise should last at least 15 minutes at a time to have full effect. As children grow, they are also capable of doing some independent fitness activities that parents should encourage. Pay attention and listen to your children’s interests, and support whatever physical activity they love the most. Whether they want to play sports, take dance classes, or just jog around the neighborhood every day, as kids get older they need some independence when it comes to staying fit.
Every child will want to sit down and watch television from time to time or play a computer or tablet game. This is fine as long as it does not occur in excess. The CDC recommends that children under the age of 5 never remain inactive for less than an hour and that school age kids never remain inactive for more than 2 hours at a time—apart from nap and bedtime, of course.
The best way to get your kids excited about exercise is to set the example. Find family activities that you can all do together and cheer each other on at individual events, too.
There’s nothing quite as fun and rewarding as getting outside as a family to be active. But in geographic areas that experience harsh winters, getting out can be difficult for many months of the year. It can be easy to fall into a pattern of TV watching and video game playing, but these and other sedentary habits can be harmful in physical and developmental ways. By getting creative, you can come up with fun activities to try out under the protection of your roof.
Here are just a few ideas:
Cook with your kids. What better way to be active, learn together, and encourage healthy eating? Pick out recipes that feature plenty of wholesome ingredients, like vegetables and chicken, and let your kids help you put the meal together. Clean up afterwards as a family and you will have even more opportunity to be active as a unit.
Plan a scavenger hunt. Leave clues throughout the house that lead to a prize at the end. If the weather allows it, make a few of the clues lead outdoors too. The prize can be something as simple as cozy new socks to something as exciting as a note that outlines a planned special outing.
Throw a dance party. This is easy enough. Turn on the radio and crank up the tunes. Let your kids take turns picking their own playlists. Who knows? They may even teach you a move or two.
Set up an indoor obstacle course. Use chairs, tables, boxes and anything else that makes a good cliff or tunnel and turn your home into a temporary challenge course. Make it competitive by timing each other, or working together on relay teams. If your kids are old enough, let them create some of the obstacle course too. Note: Look out for safety and make sure there aren’t any hazardous areas.
Piece together a puzzle. You may not work up a sweat, but working together on a puzzle is great for team-building, bonding, and critical thinking skills. The great thing is that you can pick out a puzzle that has significance to your family as well—perhaps a favorite sports team or even a family photo that has been made into a puzzle. The time you spend together will be much better spent than if you’d just sat in front of a screen.
Redecorate. Roll up your sleeves and transform a room or two in your house with the help of your kids. Rearrange furniture, organize drawers and cupboards, and rehang wall art in new locations. Let your kids have insight into the creative process, too. It will give your kids an enhanced sense of ownership of their own home and keep the entire family active in the process.
Put on a play. Pull out your favorite family storybooks and reenact them or come up with your own original script. Incorporate whatever your family likes the best—singing, dancing, or just being silly. The best part of this idea is that you can repeat it over and over, and no two performances are ever the same.
Watch a workout video. Pop in a workout DVD or pull up content online that will get your family moving in sync. You can even look up specific exercises that you want to learn and then give it a try together. No matter what the weather is like outside, you can find ways to break a sweat with the right workout video.
How does your family stay active in the colder months of the year?
Millions of people will make resolutions when the New Year rolls around, and millions of those resolutions will have to do with living a healthier, more active lifestyle. Keeping those resolutions is challenging, but by making resolutions as a family, you have a built-in support group that encourages each other to reach fitness goals throughout the year.
Take a look at a few ways your family can resolve to be more fit in the coming year and beyond.
Sign up for an upcoming event, like a short road race or obstacle course challenge as a family unit. Schedule training sessions together, set individual goals, and cheer each other on in the process.
Park with a Purpose
Every time you’re out and about, reconsider the urge to find the closest possible parking spot. Deliberately park your car further away than normal. Over the course of a year, all of those additional steps will really add up. Plus, your heart will appreciate a reduction in stress that comes with navigating crowded areas and battling with other drivers for parking spots.
Try Something New
Pick a new sport or activity to try out as a family or resolve to try something new each month of the year. For extra family fun and participation, rotate who gets to choose each new month’s activity.
Resolve to spend more time in nature. Take family walks after dinner or frequent a neighborhood park once per week. Check out your city’s Department of Parks and Recreation website to find parks and open spaces that are open to the public. You’ll probably find a lot more than you knew existed, including a few family favorites to visit regularly. There’s no denying the benefits nature has on our well-being!
Set limits on electronic device use, including watching television. Schedule times to put all phones, computers, and tablets away and fill that space with active pursuits—even cleaning the house—instead.
Plan an Active Vacation
When you are trying to decide where your next family getaway should be, take a look at what recreational opportunities you can fit in. Are there trails to hike? Canoeing options? Downhill skiing or water sport activities? Let these activities guide the planning process and build them into your itinerary.
Whenever possible, walk to your destination. When you get there, find ways to add even more steps to the experience. This can include everyday activities, like going to school or work, and can also mean taking walks for the sole purpose of fitness. Buy everyone a pedometer or activity tracker and keep track of your steps together on a family chart.
Plant a Garden
Not only will you have fresh, healthy foods to place on your dinner table, but you will be active in the garden through the building, planting, and harvesting process. Teach your kids that not all foods come prepackaged at the grocery store and that some of the tastiest ingredients can be grown right at home.
Pencil It In
Don’t just say you will be more active; actually write it on the schedule alongside other family obligations. Having it in print will make you more accountable to uphold your New Year’s resolutions to keep moving as a family.
Being more active as a family is the best New Year’s resolution you can make any year. Make this year one that brings your family better health and fitness outcomes, and resolve to reach your goals together.
You may not have been aware but there are some amazing, fresh fruits and veggies that we only have access to for part of the year! The winter season welcomes some very unique produce that is great tasting as well as highly nutritional. Take your meals to the next level this season by incorporating these healthy fruits and veggies while adding color, nutrients, and pizzazz to your dishes.
Delightful Dish: Savory Parsnip Madeleines
Delightful Dish: Seared Mahi-Mahi with Citrus Compote
Delightful Dish: Shaved Artichoke Salad
Delightful Dish: Sweet Couscous with Fresh Pomegranates
Delightful Dish: Sweet Potato Stew with Greens
Whether you are cooking in large quantities for the holidays or preparing small meals for yourself, incorporating these seasonal fruits and veggies will surely be satisfying. Get inspired by seasonal cooking and take a look at other fruits and veggies that are only available at this time of the year. Your body with thank you—and so will your taste buds!
SPARK Teams Up with ICAN Foundation to Rush Past Childhood Obesity with New Orleans Saints Running Back Pierre Thomas
Partnership aims to decrease “screen-time” and increase physical activity both during school and after school with quality PE programming and community events
SPARK™, provider of the world’s most-researched physical education programs, is partnering with ICAN Foundation to make an immediate impact on the lives of students in Illinois, Louisiana and Mississippi. SPARK and ICAN Foundation will work together to help schools and community centers raise funds or apply for and win grants in order to implement SPARK’s high-quality physical education curricula or afterschool program.
SHAPE America recommends that school-aged children receive at least 60-minutes of physical activity per day. This is hard to achieve if students spend most of the eight-hour school day sitting behind desks. SPARK fights this sedentary school model by making classroom instruction, PE classes and after school programs more physically active. Similarly, the increased amount of time youth spend using electronics is impeding on physical activity after school and on the weekends. Through its community programs and initiatives, ICAN Foundation is helping create more active lifestyles to demonstrate how being active can be fun and rewarding.
“After learning about the similarities of our organizations and the fact that SPARK is the number-one research-based health organization in our country, I knew a partnership was necessary,” said Pierre Thomas, New Orleans Saints running back and founder of ICAN Foundation. “This will be a great opportunity for everyone involved, especially the students.”
“Working with ICAN Foundation is the perfect marriage of ideas for SPARK,” said Paul Rosengard, executive director of SPARK. “With the foundation’s deep community connections in Illinois, Louisiana and Mississippi, and SPARK’s 25 years of experience in schools nationwide, we make a great team. With a joint goal of increasing the amount of physical activity youth receive every day, we know that together we can make an impact on those communities.”
How Can You Help?
Together, ICAN and SPARK will implement research-based programing to help combat childhood obesity in Illinois, Louisiana and Mississippi. Your support, partnership, or donation can assist us in our efforts. Please contact us to learn more and support the effort to combat childhood obesity.
Dr. Kymm Ballard
SPARK Partnership Development Manager
About ICAN Foundation
ICAN Foundation was founded by Pierre Thomas, New Orleans Saints running back, in response to the ongoing problem with childhood obesity. ICAN Foundation was established to prevent and educate the children and their parents about the seriousness of childhood obesity in the United States. www.believeican.org
SPARK is a collection of research-based Physical Education, After School, Early Childhood, and Coordinated School Health programs for educators serving Pre-K through 12th grade students. Since 1989, SPARK has provided curriculum materials, teacher training, and consultation to over 100,000 teachers and youth leaders, representing many thousands of schools, organizations, and agencies worldwide. SPARK also helps educators find physical education grants. For more information on SPARK, visit www.sparkpe.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-SPARK-PE.
September is known for back-to-school festivities and the transition into fall, but did you know that it’s also Childhood Obesity Awareness Month?
National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, initiated by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) four years ago, brings awareness and recognition to this devastating epidemic among the American youth in the hopes of ending a very real threat to the future health of millions of American children. Let’s look at some facts and some ways you can get involved.
Childhood Obesity Awareness Facts
We are grateful for this month-long promotion of awareness and action for childhood obesity, but this pressing issue should really take the spotlight all 12 months of the year.
Check out the facts:
Childhood Obesity Awareness Month was created to educate and inspire the public to take action against the childhood obesity epidemic.
How to Get Involved
Whether you’re a parent, educator, or part of the community, there’s something you can do to help. Check out these ideas:
Childhood Obesity need not rob millions of Americans of good health and good living. It can be stopped. It can be reversed. But it will take interested individuals to take action and become involved. The future of our country is at stake. The children of America need you, and while Childhood Obesity Awareness only lasts through September, it is a cause we all need to rally behind every month of the year.
Childhood Obesity Crisis: An Update
The Continuing High Cost of Doing Nothing
By Dr. Stan Bassin
Obesity is a modern health problem that impacts the modern world. Globally, more than 1 billion adults and 17.6 million children are estimated to be overweight (World Health Organization, 2009) and increasing. The proportional distribution of overweight around the world tends to vary with the developmental state of different countries. In developing nations, characterized by low standards of living and high population growth, underweight seems to be more prevalent than overweight. As countries modernize and begin to shift toward improved socioeconomic conditions, the wealthier portion of the population experiences an increase in the prevalence of high body mass index (BMI, the measure generally used as the indicator for obesity), while the poorer remain thin or underweight as a result of differing amounts of energy usage for tasks like transportation, and different levels of food accessibility and quality.
Further economic development results in another BMI shift, with the wealthy population receiving better nutrition and education which decreases BMI levels of the wealthy, as compared to members of the lower classes who experience an increased prevalence of high BMI (World Health Organization, 2009). The World Health Organization cites various obesity-associated health problems, many of which can be treated with an increase in physical activity. These include high blood pressure, stroke and other cardiovascular problems; insulin resistance and abnormal glucose metabolism; sleep apnea, which can lead to neurocognitive defects (Dietz, 1998); and orthopedic ailments (World Health Organization, 2004). Other consequences include menstrual irregularities, as well as mental and emotional health problems. Overweight youth may have an elevated risk of developing asthma (Strong et al, 2005), and obesity is often associated with a reduction in deep breathing, narrowing of airways, shortness of breath and increased wheezing (Lucas, 2005).
The Cost of obesity related diseases is listed below in the Major United States Cities.
Unfortunately according to Ladabaum, in the latest Study from Stanford School of Medicine 2014, we are not over eating but we are under exercising.
So, what can we do about this crisis?
There is not one simple way to solve the childhood obesity crisis, and many solutions are needed. One solution is to get kids moving in school, since children spend a significant amount of time in the school setting (see Childhood Obesity: Quality Physical Education as a Solution video to learn more). Evidence-based physical education programs like SPARK can help increase youth physical activity during the school day. In addition, quality before/after school programs, integrated classroom physical activity breaks, and recess can provide additional opportunities for physical activity in school.
SPARK has continuously demonstrated it can elevate the rate of youth physical activity through its evidence-based and field-tested materials and training programs. To learn more about evidence-based, quality physical education as a solution to the childhood obesity crisis, click here. And, do your part by advocating for quality physical education and physical activity programs in your school.
Dr. Stanley Bassin
University of California, Irvine
Physical Activity School Score (PASS)
Why it’s Important that School Programs Provide and Promote Physical Activity
Regular physical activity is extremely important for children’s growth, motor skill and physical fitness development, and current and future health. Being physically active in childhood also provides a solid base for continuing to be physically active in adulthood. The 2008 National Physical Activity Guidelines recommend children engage in at least 60 minutes of moderate and vigorous physical activity daily, with at least three days per week providing muscle and bone strengthening activities. Unfortunately many children do not meet these national physical activity recommendations–especially on school days.
Physical education and recess (at elementary schools) typically provide some opportunities for physical activity at school, but they are often not scheduled frequently enough or facilitated in ways that fully engage all children. Many elementary schools in the USA do not have certified instructors to teach PE, and sometimes schools offer no structured physical education at all. Even in classes taught by PE specialists, research shows that children are sometimes active only about one-third of PE lesson time. As well, not all schools provide recess daily and sometimes children are kept from recess periods for academic or disciplinary reasons. Thus, in addition to the need for quality physical education and recess, other opportunities for physical activity should be made available throughout the day (e.g., classroom activity breaks, before and after school programs, and opportunities to walk, bike, and skate to and from school)
PASS: A Tool to Assess Physical Activity Opportunities at School
Many parents, School Board and PTA members, and school administrators have never been educated about the need for children to engage in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity and they are frequently unaware what quality physical activity programs at schools look like. Meanwhile, numerous research studies have identified specific evidence-based practices that are more likely engage children in physical activity at schools. To help advocate for physical activity programs at schools and provide information about these evidence-based practices to elementary school administrators, teachers and parents, Active Living Research, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation sponsored us to create an on-line, interactive educational tool. To do so, we developed the Physical Activity School Score (PASS).
PASS is an 8-item questionnaire that allows respondents to assess various aspects of the main sources of physical activity at an elementary school. PASS increases awareness of evidence-based practices by providing feedback immediately after a response is made to each item. Following the last item, respondents are provided with an overall school score, and an opportunity to see how their school compares to other schools on each item and overall. PASS also provides easy links to online information to evidence-based school physical activity practices.
How Well Does Your School Score?
PASS takes about five minutes to complete. We hope that you get in the PASSing zone and try it out to see how well your school scores compared to the research-based criteria. Additionally, we hope you will deliver information about PASS to your friends, school board members, the PTA, and the parents of all he kids you want to help become active.
To learn more about PASS and to evaluate an elementary school near you go to:
Here you can:
- See how PASS works
- Use PASS to assess an individual elementary school
- Download the “Pass Background and Technical Manual”
Thom McKenzie, PHD, Professor Emeritus, School of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences, San Diego State University
Monica Lounsbery, PHD, Associate-Vice Provost, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
For 25 years, SPARK has made it our commitment to reduce childhood obesity. Follow us on our journey back to where it all began. Without you, this wouldn’t be possible, so thank you for all the support you have provided to help us achieve our dreams!