Archive for the ‘exercise’ Category

3 Innovative Physical Education Teaching Techniques

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

physical education

Physical fitness among young people has now found itself at the forefront of society’s scrutiny. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), obesity among children between the ages of 2 and 19 has more than doubled in recent years, leaving students susceptible to the development of diabetes, complex joint issues and a host of other serious health problems.

Many physical fitness educators have taken it upon themselves to drastically reduce these statistics over the course of the next decade. Although the improvements in technology have somewhat contributed to the dangerously sedentary lifestyles of many young people, it can also be harnessed to reverse these health concerns. With instant access to almost anything at any given time, technology can be used to improve fitness and potentially save lives. It’s just a question of how it’s used.

So how can today’s educators create interactive work environments for their physical education classrooms?

Here are 3 modern solutions to fight the current health concerns facing our youth:

1. Modern Wellness-Tracking Technology

One way that educators can make physical wellness more interactive is by implementing fitness monitors, like the Fitbit or the Nuband, into their classes.

These lightweight, wearable activity trackers provide a wide range of real-time data. They can be used to help students become more aware of their body’s processes as a whole, or simply to learn their peak heart rate levels to achieve maximum physical fitness. Electronic activity trackers record step counts, quality of sleep cycles and a host of other personal metrics to ensure that students stay active throughout their developmental years. The attention to detail creates a feeling of ownership, fostering a sense of responsibility to maintain that state of wellness for the future. It is said that children should remain active for at least 60 minutes a day to meet proper health standards. Fitness trackers can help make sure kids reach this simple but vital goal in their P.E. classes, and also in their daily lives.

2. Music and Dance as Motivation

When it comes to movement in physical education, there is no better motivator than music. With this universal truth in mind, educators have developed new teaching methods based on viral dance crazes, like the Cupid Shuffle and the Konami Dance Dance Revolution music game. Not only does learning choreography together create a sense of camaraderie among classmates and teachers, but it also provides a great workout. Students can improve their coordination, strengthen their social interactions with one another and reduce stress levels during exam time.

What P.E. teacher wouldn’t want a class of smiling, dancing students?

3. Active Gaming Platforms

Technology-based hobbies have become so ingrained in the lifestyles of students that we often forget that they can serve as a valuable tool.

Exergames, or active gaming programs, like Hopsports and Kinect Xbox, invite users into a comfortable and familiar environment, while offering an opportunity for moderate-intensity physical activity. The best part about this exercise source is that it can be continued outside of school. Many students have their own gaming consoles and could take their P.E. class inspiration to a whole new level at home.

It is becoming increasingly important for teachers to use every outlet at their disposal to improve the health of their students. Some physical education teachers have found the key to success is utilizing what young people love the most – and, very often, that’s the new advancements in technology. By creating interactive and entertaining lessons with activity tracking, music, dance and gaming, teachers can improve student wellness practices not only in school, but in the decades to follow.

Tips for a Successful Field Day this Spring

Friday, April 7th, 2017


By: BJ Williston, SPARK Trainer and Curriculum Development Consultant

Every spring all over the world, schools are preparing to put on a Field Day for their students. When done well, Field Days can be an active and fun time for everyone. In this blog, I’ll give those in charge of Field Day some tips to make it successful.


  • Plan well in advance (6-8 weeks minimum). You will need to get approval, get the word out, create materials (e.g. T-shirts, etc.) communicate with staff, volunteers, parents and students about the event.
  • It takes a lot of minds and bodies to put together a successful Field Day. Call for parents and teachers to create a committee to bring ideas, additional volunteers, resources for donations, etc.
  • Invite all parents and community members for their input on making it a fun day for all. Be sure everyone who wants to be involved knows about the meetings.
  • Decide what you need volunteers to do before, during, and after the Field Day (e.g. lead activities, escort students to the bathroom, set-up, take-down, deliver water and supplies, etc.). Use a web sign-up to make it easy for them to choose the tasks they are willing to do and the time slots they can be there for. Examples of these are SignUpGenius and SignUp. Best to have two volunteers per activity so they can support one another. Have a paper version in the front office for folks who are unable to use the web options.
  • Come up with a Field Day theme to pull it all together.
  • Plan the activities with the goals of fun and activity in mind. Keep them simple and age-appropriate.
  • When considering activity ideas, be line conscious: Don’t have kids stand in line for long. A field day should be full of fun and action, not standing around watching others.
  • Listen to feedback for past Field Days. Keep the things that worked and ditch those that didn’t.
  • Consider breaking up the day with a K-2 Field Day in the morning and a 3-5 one in the afternoon.
  • Include water games (if your climate allows). Kids go nuts over these and they are typically a smash hit. Plan to have these near the hose.
  • Think of unique activities that are cooperative in nature, rather than competitive. Have a good mix of activity types.
  • Don’t focus on awards for the “winners.” Field Days are more fun when the focus is on participation, not who was 1st, 2nd and 3rd.
  • Be prepared to adapt activities where necessary to enable all students with disabilities to participate and have fun.
  • Schedule the day to include breaks, rotation, activity names, etc.
  • Create a map to show where each activity will be at the school.
  • Ask for volunteers to photograph the activities and to share photos with parents and teachers.
  • Coordinate classes to create signs for each station.
  • Provide ideas for healthy snacks to serve during Field Day. See if you can help find a donor from a local grocery store or restaurant.
  • Include the school’s nurse or health aide to create a first aid station.
  • The day before, remind children of the importance of being well-rested and fed, and to be dressed for action and fun. Them bringing a towel and change of clothes is also a great idea.

The Day of:

  • Have volunteers set up as much as possible the night before.
  • Have a final meeting with all volunteers prior to the start to cover the main goals of the day and details about safety.
  • Have a large group “Welcome” to Field Day and discuss the rotation and the goals of the Field Day. The focus is on fun and safety. Announce the location of the first aid station.
  • A lot can happen that varies from the plan. It’s OK to adapt and go with the flow, if necessary.
  • Provide enough equipment to maximize participation so lines are short or non-existent.
  • Include breaks for volunteers every 90 minutes or so.
  • For students who are physically unable to participate (injuries, etc.), provide them with a safe task to keep them involved.
  • Work to ensure all children are having a good time. You should see lots of smiles!
  • Prompt volunteers to keep their eyes and ears open (no holding cell phones!) and to catch and stop any inappropriate behavior quickly.

Post Field Day:

  • Clean and dry all equipment and store for next year’s Field Day.
  • Send out a survey for volunteers to give feedback on their experience. Which activities worked? Which didn’t? Why?
  • Send thank you notes to those who volunteered and donated their time and goods.

The keys to a fabulous and fun Field Day are preparation and a focus on fun. It should be a safe and enjoyable day for all!

Click here for more tips and a discount on Field Day equipment, and click here to view Sportime featuring SPARK’s Field Day Activity Guide.

5 Ways to Improve YOUR Health Before Summer

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

by Paul Rosengard

Spring is a time for renewal, and as the green leaves emerge and the weather improves we’re more motivated to be active outdoors.  So how do we press “Play” again after a long winter on “Pause?”  Here are 5 tips I hope you’ll find helpful:

1.  Goal Setting: If you are among the many millions of people who are currently doing very little or nothing in terms of weekly physical activity, you’ll likely benefit from setting a few goals.  Make an appointment with yourself and schedule movement into your life.  You wouldn’t miss a doctor’s appointment right?  So don’t miss that 15 min. you’ve set aside to walk around the block and back.  Every little bit counts – in fact studies have shown that being active in three, 10-minute increments provides nearly the same health benefits as a 30 min. session.

Goal setting should first involve specific days and times for activity.  Write it in your calendar; for example:  Wed. from noon-12:15.  Once you have a specific day and time in mind, write down what you plan to do.  Walk, ride a bike, swim, weight train, garden!  All movement is good movement and it all counts.  As you become consistent – moving a little (10 min.) to a lot (60 min.) almost every day of the week, then consider goals to increase your intensity over time so your heart rate is elevated (Are you breathing harder?  Can you feel your heart beating faster?) during some of your activity sessions.  Goals should be challenging, specific, and realistic. Can you set a physical activity goal that meets those parameters?  Give it a try!

2.  Start slowly: Everyone, young and old, should begin an activity program slowly, allowing our body’s time to acclimate to the change in frequency, intensity, time, and type of exercise (FITT principle).  For example, 6 months ago you were running 4-5 miles outside.  Then, winter arrived and you were confined to the great indoors, now using a treadmill or elliptical for your cardio workout.  Fast forward to Spring — you don’t want to throw open the door and hit the dusty trail!  Instead, re-start your running program slowly.  A good rule of thumb (or in this case, foot) is to begin at about 25%.  If you were doing an hour on the treadmill, try jogging for 15 min. – after an appropriate warm-up of course.  Gradually add 5 min. each run (as long as you’re feeling good and your body is cooperating) until you’re at or near the level you were before.

3.  Cross-Train: A lot of people lock in to the one thing they do, and their bodies lock in right with them.  Certainly, we need to do cardio for heart health and resistance training for skeletal health and muscle exertion.  So is a run every 2nd or 3rd day and a weight-training workout 2-3x a week the ideal?  It’s DARN great and if you’re doing it congrats!  And, let’s also think variety.  Mix up your cardio, different running routes (more hills, less hills) and different paces (how about some sprints once a week?).  If you’re in a health club or gym pushing weight on machines around, how bout mixing in some free weight exercises?  Try a TRX system?  Do a day of just body weight/resistance exercises?  It’s easy to get into a rut and keep repeating the same exercises at the same weight, same number of repetitions, in the same sequence.  Try not doing the same workout twice! Your body will respond differently too.  And don’t forget Yoga, Pilates, Body Pump and Zumba classes.  Videos available to check out at a library close to you too!  We have so many different and fun ways to be active and stay healthy and fit.  Viva la difference!

4.  Social Support: While some people are motivated and able to stay consistent with their exercise regimens, most of us benefit from being active with a friend.  If you’re one of these folks, recruit a workout buddy! When there’s someone else counting on you to carpool to a health club, or meet you at a trail for a jog, or rendezvous at a park to shoot some baskets or play tennis or just a game of catch, there’s a much better chance you won’t cancel your activity time.  Plus, you’ll have someone to give you feedback, spot you when you’re bench pressing, and maybe even encouraging you to try something new and different.

5.  Have Fun! As you become more active more opportunities will open up for you.  When was the last time (if ever) you played table tennis?  Badminton?  Pickleball?  These and other activities might be offered at a recreation center not far away.  Check out their schedules and see if there’s a class or league you can participate in and if it looks interesting and fun, sign up!  If you’re a member of a health club or gym, when was the last time you looked at their class schedule?  What about that spinning class you walk past from time to time?  Whatever you do to move, we know that if it’s fun you’ll want to do it more often.

I hope these 5 tips were helpful and you’ll become healthier and happier by making physical activity happen in your life!

Paul Scout 1

Healthy Family Habits for Every Month of the Year

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

True positive change is often not drastic or sweeping. It takes time to modify your family’s lifestyle and create lasting healthy habits. SPARK creates resources for educators to teach kids the importance of physical activity and healthy eating at school, but establishing a healthy routine begins with parents at home.

As you look ahead to the New Year, consider these suggestions to improve the health of your family:


Update your gear.

Getting organized is often at the top of the list when we turn the calendar for the New Year. Start by going through your family’s activewear and equipment to toss, recycle, or donate what no longer fits, works, or is used. This leaves room for any new gear you need, like running shoes for growing feet, jump ropes and balls, or even bikes for the family.


Get outside.

With the holidays behind us at this point and the cold dreary weather starting to take its toll, your family may want to hibernate inside until spring arrives. But winter inactivity is meant for bears, not humans! Find fun reasons to get outdoors. Winter sports, like skiing or ice skating, are fun for the whole family. Even if you bundle up for a simple daily walk around the neighborhood or play in the snow in the front yard, the fresh air and activity will do everyone some good.


Evaluate your family’s sleep habits.

March is the month when an hour of sleep is forever lost as we “spring forward” and set the clocks an hour ahead. But this is a great opportunity to look at the sleep habits of your family, parents included, to ensure that everyone is getting the right amount of rest. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention call sleep deprivation in America an epidemic that tends to accompany other chronic illness. This month, take a few minutes to improve the sleep habits, and therefore overall health, of your family.


Go to a ball game.

April marks the start of America’s favorite pastime as fans flock to baseball stadiums across the country. Taking your family out to the ballpark is an excellent way to get some fresh air and witness some inspiring athletic talent. If baseball isn’t your thing, find a basketball game, tennis match, or track and field meet to attend.

For added benefit, let the pros inspire you to play your own game of baseball (or other sport of your choice) in the backyard or park with the kids. Show them that it’s fun to work up a sweat, strategize, and partake in a little friendly competition just like the big-leaguers. Emphasize the importance of positive sportsmanship and team work for a well-rounded learning experience.


Join a gym.

Prepare for months of no school by getting set up at a nearby gym that offers classes and an active play area for kids. While kids certainly need some down time in the months away from everyday studies, resist television takeover. If you work during the day, pick out a few evenings to hit up the gym with your kids so everyone can burn off some of that summer energy.


Practice proper sun protection.

Actually, wearing the right sunscreen is important every month of the year—even the ones without much sun. Summer usually brings more opportunities for sun exposure, though, so make sure you are always prepared with sunscreen of at least SPF 30. You should also encourage your kids to wear hats out in the sun and do the same yourself.


Discuss oral care.

July is Oral Health Month (February is Children’s Dental Health Month), giving you the perfect opportunity to talk to your family about tooth care and decay prevention. Did you know that tooth decay is the top chronic illness in children? It is admittedly tough to make sure kids are really taking proper care of their teeth and entire mouth, particularly if they are resistant. Take some extra time this month to explain the importance of oral health in your family and to establish good habits.


Take up biking.

If you live close enough to your workplace or children’s school, make a commitment to walk or ride there instead of taking the car. You do not have to spend a lot to get the right gear. Check local consignment shops and garage sales for bikes that others have outgrown and then get a few weeks of practice in before the school year begins.


Do yard work.

Plain and simple, yard work burns calories and brings families together in a united front. Yard work also teaches responsibility and stewardship.


Practice moderation.

Halloween is often viewed as a candy and sweet free-for-all but it can also be a great lesson in portion control. Let your kids pick out their candy favorites and then donate the rest to an organization like Operation Gratitude, which sends it to U.S. troops overseas.


Run a turkey trot.

Start your Thanksgiving morning off right by entering a family-friendly Turkey Trot road race. These can be as short as a one-mile walk or as long as a half-marathon. Find the distance that accommodates everyone in the family and then bundle up!


Give back and raise awareness.

Find a cause that is close to your family’s heart and donate some time to it. Organizations appreciate donations of cash, clothing, and other household items of course, but actually working for the cause helps your kids really see the impact. Whether by sorting canned goods or sweeping out a shelter animal’s crate, find an active way to give back during the holiday season.

Making minor changes over time is the best way to establish healthy family habits and teach your kids about lifelong wellness. Start the year off right with the determination to stay active and you will be healthier overall come January 1, 2015.

Fitness Holiday Gift Ideas

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

Looking for some healthy holiday gift ideas?  How about some fitness gifts for YOU and for the Kids?

Click Here to shop in the SPARKstore, and don’t forget about the SPARK Holiday Discount!


Fitness Gift Ideas for YOU

Resistance Bands: Great for stretching & strength training (Click Here)

Yoga Mat: What a stress relief!  (Click Here)

Medicine Balls: Multiple workout options for arms, shoulders, and core-strengthening (Click Here)

Bar Weights: Foam-covered weight bar that brings an innovative twist to juice up your routines! (Click Here)

Shoulder Folders: Every Physical Education Teacher’s dream gift!  (Click Here)


Fitness Gift Ideas for the Kids

Hands-On Basketball: Designed by kids, for kids! (Click Here)

Football Trainer: The soft tip eliminates the fear factor and makes this ball fun for everyone (Click Here)

Jump Ropes: Jump for fitness, jump for joy! (Click Here)

Ribbon Wands: Encourage creativity and add some flair to that dance routine! (Click Here)

Flying Disc: A classic that never goes out of style (Click Here)

8 Ways to Improve Your Health by the End of the Year

Friday, December 6th, 2013

When January 1 rolls around, we are often more determined than ever to get fit and feel great. Research shows that only 8 percent of us actually achieve New Year’s resolutions, however. The main reason? We make dreamy resolutions but fail to follow up with the planning and work needed to achieve them.

Instead of waiting to make a New Year’s resolution when it comes to your health, get ahead of the game. Decide that instead of letting the holiday season get the best of you, you are going to get a jump start on a healthier 2014.

Ways To Improve Health - SPARKTake these 8 suggestions from SPARK to improve the whole family’s health by the New Year:

  • Just move. Our bodies were made for movement. Whether you take a family walk for an hour after dinner each evening, set the mood for the day with a morning yoga session, or even include some of SPARK’s lesson plans during playtime with your kids, just get moving. Park your car away from the crowds and put in a few extra steps when doing holiday shopping. Institute a friendly family football game each Sunday and teach the little ones how to throw a perfect spiral. If the holiday season seems too hectic to fit in a workout, think again! Movement in your everyday life counts.
  • Eat smart. There will be plenty of invitations to parties and gatherings this season, and you should definitely make the most of those and attend. But that doesn’t mean you have to fill your plate with the highest-calorie goodies at the serving table in the name of good cheer. Pack portable, protein-rich snacks for marathon shopping sessions rather than making a stop at the mall’s cafeteria. Gracefully turn down invites to go out to lunch with co-workers or bring your own meal packed from home along with you. There are so many delicious temptations during the holiday season, so save your splurging for the times when it means the most.
  • Buy an activity tracker. Many people track what they eat when they are trying to lose weight—but have you ever thought about keeping an eye on your activity levels? Upgrade your basic pedometer to a device like our very own Polar Active Monitor Watch that tracks all daily activity and progress. Some monitors even track sleep and have calorie-monitoring capability. When you have a high-calorie day, add some time onto your workout or take a long walk in your neighborhood. Don’t assume that your activity level is high enough to counteract what you consume. Have a device that tracks it for you and gives insight into your habits, helping you make healthy changes.
  • Drink more water. Of course, replacing calorie-laden beverages like soda with water is an instant health boost, but there are even more reasons to stay hydrated. People often mistake thirst with hunger and eat when they should really be pouring themselves a nice tall glass of water. Hydration can also boost immunity and energy level, a must during the fall and winter seasons. A good rule of thumb is to drink enough water in ounces to equal half of your weight in pounds. So if you weigh 150 pounds, drink 75 ounces of water every day.
  • Replace sedentary habits with active ones. Keep a journal each day that charts how much activity you get in a 24-hour period. Write down the amount of time you spend watching television on the couch, sitting at your office desk, and sleeping. Take a look at your typical habits after you’ve recorded them and look for ways to replace some of the sedentary stuff with an activity. Just four five-minute breaks from your desk for a brief walk add up to an hour and 40 minutes every week. Schedule gym visits during your favorite shows and watch them from a treadmill. You do not need to be on your feet every waking hour, but make minor adjustments to maximize your activity levels.
  • Improve sleep habits. Sleep is an incredibly overlooked but very important component of overall health. The Centers for Disease Control have declared American sleep deprivation a health epidemic because of its prevalence and negative health outcomes. Adults generally need eight hours of sleep to perform their best the next day. If you have trouble nodding off when your body is tired, take a look at what habits may be causing it. Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening and be sure to get that physical activity that makes for a good night’s rest. Consistent sleep will improve your entire quality of life so make it a priority going into the New Year.
  • Reduce stress. Stress is a part of life. That means stress management is a part of life. Try to approach every situation with a rational attitude and avoid negative thought patterns. What’s causing your stress? It’s a problem that needs a solution—and the solution is as simple as writing down what needs to be done to make the problem go away, and then following through. Practicing yoga, joining a church group, or simply taking a few minutes every morning to meditate will help keep your stress level low. Exercise, restful sleep, and a healthy diet help you manage stress too—see how it’s all connected?

Maintaining your health is a lifelong process, but there is certainly no reason to wait for January 1st to make some improvements. Instead of letting the holiday season steal your health, decide to make some changes now that will set you up for a successful 2014 and help you enjoy the holidays more.

How do you plan to tackle health goals this holiday season?

How to Create an Anything-but-Sedentary Summer Vacation

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

This summer, instead of lounging around in front of the TV bingeing on chips and soda, create an anything-but-sedentary summer vacation for your family—and yourself.

It’s easier than ever to spend hours and hours sitting in a living room not moving, much to the detriment of your kids’ health and wellness. However, there are ways to get them up and outside again.

Here are some of the best strategies you can use to create a fun, fitness-filled summer vacation for your entire family.Hoop

Change the Environment

The biggest reason your kids watch that giant HD TV and play Call of Duty on Xbox Live is because it’s right there, and it’s easy. In fact, video games aren’t just in your home, they’re in your driveway, on your block and at your schools and summer camps.

Obviously, video games aren’t the only reason our kids sit inside all day. There are tons of factors like the weather and the examples they follow.

Examples that we set, even if we don’t realize it.

Change the Habit

Our children follow us more closely than we think. There is plenty of evidence that suggests our kids mimic bad behaviors like smoking, so why wouldn’t they mimic our good behaviors?

The simple act of taking your family on a bike ride, or a walk in the park, or down to the basketball court to shoot some hoops can have a profound impact on how they want to spend their own free time this summer and their future summers too. Especially if they see that patented hook shot you learned back in high school when you were the starting forward for your team (and just like that, you’ve made an impression).

You’ll also create memories that your kids will look back on throughout their lives. We can all surely remember a time when our parents took us camping, or swimming at the lake way up state, or down to the park to play soccer with the neighbors. Pass on those fond memories to your own kids.

Reinvent the Menu

It’s great that you’ll get out and spend some time together as a family, but what happens when you get back home? The food you eat has just as much impact on your family’s well-being as physical exercise.

It’s easy to get back home and wolf down soda and hotdogs and chips—it’s summer after all, and nothing beats grilling outdoors in the afternoon.

Try to choose healthy sides and entrees as often as you can. Obviously you won’t eat vegetarian meals every day, but a break from the pre-packaged, high-fructose, full-of-preservatives stuff is paramount. Nothing beats eating local fruits and vegetables, especially when you grow them in your own garden. The summer months are perfect for gardening, and it’s another chance to spend some time outside.

By serving healthy portions of healthy foods, you’re giving your kids’ a chance to develop into strong, athletic people. Oh, and healthy food makes us smarter too.

Preventing Recidivism

We all know what happens when we jump on the diet train; eventually, we fall off. However, when it comes to our kids, we’d do well to stay on the health and wellness train for life. So how do we keep these habits fresh and interesting for our ever-tempted youth?

Put an exclamation point on your summer vacation with an actual “vacation!” to somewhere fun that requires a bit of physical fitness. For example, if you head to the beach, rent a couple of cruisers and ride up and down the boardwalk, play some beach volleyball, and avoid eating at the breakfast buffet every morning. If you stay local and head to a state park, get out of the hammock and walk a few miles of trails.

When your kids see how much fun an active summer vacation is, unplug the TV. They won’t need it any more.

“Basketball Sky” Photo Credit: Chris Metcalf

Making Time for Exercise as a Family

Monday, February 20th, 2012

With hectic school schedules, work meetings, and tiring days, it’s hard to make time to exercise as a family. Televisions, video games, and constant Internet connectivity also don’t help us find the time to get outside and play together. But with some concerted effort and prior planning, making time to exercise as a family can help your health and communication, and allocates time to bond as a family unit and talk to each other about your lives.

Spending time together as a family and getting everyone out of the house is a high priority for maintaining family health. And spending more time with kids helps them make better decisions and be less likely to get into trouble.

Walking or Running

Simply going for a walk is the easiest way to incorporate exercise into your day. Choosing a nice scenic route can make a walk more enjoyable, but oftentimes heading straight from the house can give you less of an excuse to postpone. Parks can also incorporate more than one activity. Parents can go for a walk while children enjoy field games or just run around.

If you are feeling really ambitious, try signing up the family for a 5k run or walk and give yourselves a goal to work up to. Setting a plan and reaching the finish line is a great way to bond together as a family and reach a successful goal.

Ride a bike

Bike riding is another family favorite. Biking trails can make a fun and safe ride for children of all ages. And having a personal bike to take care of and enjoy can make each family more inclined to stick with it.

Pick up a sport

Family leagues are picking up speed, and there are many ways to get involved in outside sports. Even a family game of tag or kickball can bring fast fun to the outdoors. Plan a Saturday game of tag or join a week night sports team to help you stick with a regimen. These types of group sports help your family build confidence, learn cooperation, and get exercise in an enjoyable way.

Yoga, Martial Arts, Dance Classes, and Swimming Lessons

All three of these activities can be enjoyed regardless of the season, and can be a fun way to bring challenge to your exercise. Scheduled classes are also harder to miss, and allow family members to meet new people and work toward a goal. Classes can also lend reasons to practice at home, making it easier to bring exercise back into everyday life.

Bowling, Tennis, Basketball, or Volleyball

Bowling is a great sport for the whole family. Fun and exciting, bowling is almost like exercising without even realizing it. Join a league to keep your family dedicated, or plan a bowling night every week to help your family look forward to a fun exercise outlet.

Sports played on the court are open to all ages, and can help your loved ones get into the game. With multiple courts available at gyms and all-ages teams cropping up all the time, there’s no reason to keep the family cooped up in the house every week. Sign up for a gym membership or get involved in local clubs to help each member remain accountable for their exercise regimen.

If it seems like there’s just not enough time in the day to exercise, try keeping an activity journal. There’s a good chance that each family member has more downtime than you think, and those times can be rearranged to make more space for family exercise.

With all the virtual workout games on the market, chances are you are already set to provide the family with an entire home workout theater. Get the kids up for a dance party or play activity games on your gaming console. There is a whole new world out there made up of virtual exercise that incorporates games, weight loss regimens, and fun challenges for the whole family.

However you choose to get your family involved in exercise, the highest priority is sticking with it. Keep a calendar or set dates in advance to make sure that there can be no last-minute excuses. Families that exercise together can reap the benefits of a healthier lifestyle, a closer relationship, and a higher level of confidence.

10 Reasons Summertime Shouldn’t Be Spent Sitting Indoors

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

Summer is here and far too many people have been sitting indoors all winter and spring and need to get out of the rut. The best way to turn your life around 180-degrees  is to step outside this summer and spend some more time with nature. The sun’s healing powers are very real and you will feel like a new person if you commit to getting outside every single day to enjoy the sunshine. Here are 10 great reasons why you should get out of the house this summer.

6-8 football run

Summer is a great time to spend the day playing outside with friends. Get a group of together and throw around a football, baseball or a frisbee at your neighborhood park.

1. Vitamin D – Summer means there will be plenty of sunshine around and if you are someone who sits indoors all the time then you are probably deficient in vitamin D. Go fill up your tank with tons of great vitamin D by spending summer in the great outdoors. Vitamin D can help in numerous ways: strengthens bones, strengthens immune system, decreases depression, prevents disease, and even increases lifespan.

2. Physical fitness – The best time of year to pick up a new sport is summer time. Get out and start jogging, swimming, playing football in the park, or anything that gets your body moving. The small effort to be active this season will pay huge dividends for your health, weight, and how you feel overall.

3. Personal relationships – All of your friends are heading outdoors for the summer. It is the perfect time of year to rekindle relationships and build new ones by going out socializing. Group sports, camping, and beach-going are just a few ways to spend some quality time with friends under the sun.

4. Baseball season – America’s pastime is back in full swing, and what better way to spend time outdoors than supporting your home team and going to a live game. Turn that TV off, call some friends, and head down to your local ballpark where you can appreciate both your team and the amazing summer weather at the same time.

5. Vacation time – Whether you have been saving up that one week or have several weeks of vacation time ready to use, this summer is a perfect excuse to use it. Take a week off and head to some mountains where you can enjoy hiking, fishing, and biking. If you are looking to relax, spend your vacation on the coast. Better yet, sign up for a 10k or half/full marathon you have always wanted to do and take your vacation around that event.

6. Beaches and lakes are warm – The water is warming up and the sun is heating up the sand which means it is time to head to the nearest water. It can be a fun lake nearby or the beautiful beaches of San Diego. Both are a fun place to hang out in the summer. You will be happy you got yourself out of the house when you are waterskiing or surfing with all of your friends.

7. Better sleep – Getting outdoors and exercising or just being active will help burn some energy that will then result in a better night’s sleep once you are back home. It has been proven that people who spend more time outdoors sleep much more soundly than people who sit inside all day.

8. Increased oxygenation – Breathing in the fresh air actually has health benefits. When you spend time outdoors, it increases your body’s oxygenation and therefore your blood circulation. Better blood circulation results in more energy and increased mental awareness. So if you want to think more clearly, go outside and get some more blood pumping into your brain.

9. Relieve stress from the winter – A lot of people have been cooped up indoors throughout the winter and even spring time. Stress builds up and depression sinks in when you have been in a dark house for too long. When you go outside and take a breath of fresh air you will instantly feel less stress and have a happier outlook on the day.

10. Improved eyesight – Staring at a computer or TV takes a toll on your eyes and you can reverse those effects by spending time outdoors. When your eyes can focus on a large landscape instead of a small screen, it reduces their nearsightedness which is why most people need glasses.

Physical Education and Parent Involvement

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

Parents play a vital role in the health of their children and can strongly influence the choices they make at school. Making good choices regarding physical activity and nutritious food leads to improved student health — and healthier students are better learners. So encourage the parents of your students to play an active role in supporting a healthy school environment.

What can parents and families do? Here are a few ideas:

Provide Opportunities for Activity
  • Enroll their children in after school sports, classes or recreational activities
  • Expose them to a variety of physical activities
  • Identify ways to be active around your home or neighborhood
Encourage Healthy Eating Habits
  • Provide healthy snacks
  • Prepare meals with food from all of the food groups
  • Cook with your children
Be a Role Model
  • Be active regularly — and invite your child to join you
  • Reduce your own television and computer time
  • Cook more and eat out less
Monitor Screen Time
  • Limit the time spent each day using computers, video games and television
  • Avoid eating in front of the television
  • Provide alternate activities for children to enjoy
Advocate for a Healthier School
  • Daily physical education taught by qualified, credentialed physical educators — hopefully SPARK trained!
  • Healthier school lunches in all school environments (cafeteria, a la carte line, student body sales, etc.)
  • Using non-food related items for fundraisers and rewards