Archive for the ‘Teacher Fitness and Health’ Category

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

Overcoming Challenges to Providing Physical Activity For Preschool-age Children

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

Part One: Time

One of the biggest reasons teachers are not able to provide sufficient amount of minutes of physical activity is time.  With all of the responsibilities teachers have leaves little time for activity.  Instead of giving up, look for ways to integrate activity into your day.  Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Transition time- hop to the next activity, stand like a stork, or walk like an animal, etcTips for Teaching- Overcoming Challenges to PE- Spark PE
  • Center time- create an activity center and students can use locomotor movements to go to next center
  • Literary arts- read books that include movements or have children act out the story
  • Music time- play music that prompts students to do different types of movements
  • Outdoor Time- structured and unstructured activity

For a sample SPARK physical activity lesson, Click Here.

Part Two: Equipment

It would be nice to have brand new equipment with enough for every child to have their own, budget issues don’t always allow this to happen.  Teachers oftenstruggle have little or no materials to provide for their classes. Instead of repeating the same activities or avoiding it altogether, be creative!  Here are some suggestions:

  • You don’t need the same “ball” for everyone.  Think “tossables” instead, use beanbags, fluffballs, tennis balls, etc. Students choose the tossable they want to use!
  • Use materials you have: instead of balls, use crumbled up paper or rolled up socks; instead of spot markers use carpet squares or foam sheets.
  • Do simple games such as tag, simple games, or and musical activities that don’t require equipment.  They are just as fun and improve your health!

For a sample SPARK physical activity lesson including a Family Fun activity to send home, Click Here.

Part 3: Space

So you have created time for activity found equipment for students to use, but you don’t have think you have enough space to move.  What should you do?  There are many ways to get students moving in limited space but it takes a little ingenuity to make it happen.  Some ideas to get you started are to:

  • Outside on grass area or blacktopTips for Teaching- Overcoming Challenges to Providing Physical Activity
  • Area of circle time
  • Move desks, tables, or other furniture out of the way
  • Children can thread around furniture at a slow tempo
  • Search your site for areas that can be used such as hallways or covered entry ways

The key is to give students their own personal space to move and participate.  They don’t have to be running around the room to get activity!

For a sample SPARK physical activity lesson including a Family Fun activity to send home, Click Here.

Early Childhood Teaching Tips: Physical Activity and Readiness Skills

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

Connecting movement with readiness skills during physical activity plays an important role in the preschool environment.

To create an environment which integrates school readiness and physical activity, incorporate the following:


Use manipulatives of various basic colors.

Tips for Teaching Physical Activity and Readiness Skills


Use spot markers, hoops, and parachutes for circle recognition. Use ribbon hoops, scarves, and ropes to form shapes.


Provide opportunities to identify and use a variety of relationships with objects (e.g.; near/far, over/ under, on/off, around/through).


Body Part Identification

Provide opportunities to identify and use a various body parts.



Set up manipulatives in various patterns (i.e.,red, blue, red, blue or red-blue-blue, red-blue-blue) for children to identify basic patterns.


Use art to reinforce knowledge of colors, pathways, relationships, shapes, and sizes learned during physical activity.

Listening Skills

Provide opportunities to develop listening skills (i.e., start and stop signals, simple cues, and multi-step instructions).

For a sample SPARK physical activity lesson plan incorporating school readiness, Click Here.



3 Nutrition Questions Answered…

Monday, September 13th, 2010
1. What are the best snacks for kids to help them sustain their energy levels all day?

The best snacks for sustaining energy levels are ones that combine complex carbohydrates from whole grains, fruits or vegetables, with some lean protein such as nuts or cheese, and a little bit of fat to enhance taste and satiety.

Healthy Kids Challenge Top 10 Healthy Snack Choices

  1. ½ cup fresh fruit – with low-fat yogurt dip
  2. ½ cup vegetables – with low-fat dressing dip
  3. 5 whole grain crackers – with salsa or bean dip
  4. 1 cup whole grain cereal – with 8 oz. skim milk
  5. 3 cups popcorn – with 1 oz. nuts (10 almonds or 15 peanuts)
  6. 1 oz. low-fat cheese – with 1 thin slice lean meat and whole grain roll
  7. 8 oz. fat-free flavored yogurt – with cut-up fresh fruit added
  8. 1/3 cup low-fat cottage cheese – with pineapple chunks
  9. 1 oz. nuts (10 almonds or 15 peanuts) – with ¼ cup raisins
  10. 1 Tbsp peanut butter – with celery sticks
2. Where do we go for quick, easy, and healthy recipes?

Here’s a list of Healthy Kids Challenge favorites online.  Each of these is a Partner in Health with HKC.  You can count on all of them to offer a variety of healthy recipes, affordable family meal ideas, and even “kid friendly” recipes sections, too!

Cooking Light – Includes categories such as “quick and easy” and “kid friendly” and access to the magazine’s recipe list.

Cabot – In addition to recipes, the Healthy Eating section includes recipe makeovers and cooking with kids tips.

Del Monte Recipes & Tools – Kid friendly recipes are simple to make and the “Meals Under $10” are healthy and tasty, too.

Mission – Look for “Family Meals Under $10” and “Fiesta Favorites” for a healthy spin on traditional tortilla fare.

3. Why is it important to eat whole grains and limit saturated fat?

A healthy diet including fiber from whole grains is important because whole grains help reduce blood cholesterol levels and may help with weight management.  The fiber in whole grains helps provide a feeling of fullness with fewer calories.  A food with 5 grams or more per serving is high in fiber.

It is important to limit saturated fat, which is solid fat, because it tends to raise LDL “bad” cholesterol levels, increasing your risk for heart disease. Limit solid fats like butter, stick margarine, or shortening. Instead, choose oils, which are more heart healthy, and in small amounts are a healthy choice.  Choose fat from fish, nuts, and vegetable oils more often. For more information, visit