Fitness During the School Year
Gym class used to be a part of every school day. Not anymore. With a lot of school systems reducing the physical activity kids get during the day, parents have to step in and make sure their kids are developing good exercise habits early.
Turn the loss of gym class into a positive for the family. Educate your kids about the need to be fit and then set a good example. Try to set aside one evening during the week for the family to exercise together. On the weekends, try to do it twice. Walking, bike riding, ice skating and hockey—find activities you can all enjoy together.
What if Your Kid Hates Gym?
Gym classes that are about competing and winning are a lot of fun for athletically gifted children, but the kids who aren’t athletic may start to hate gym. They might lose confidence in themselves, develop unhealthy body image and worst of all, lose interest in any kind of physical activity at all.
If your child’s school offers the more traditional kind of gym class, where the kids who do well do most of the playing and the ones who don’t stand on the sidelines a lot, consider talking with the school about changing the program a little. Emphasize that gym class should be about getting physical activity, not about winning and losing. Ask the school whether they’d consider including activities like swing dancing, fitness walking, bike riding and martial arts.
If the school can’t change their gym curriculum, keep in mind that the real goal of gym class should be to help keep kids active and to instill good exercise habits for a lifetime. It’s not just the schools that need to do that. Parents can set the example as well.
Source: National Association for Sport and Physical Education
Heatstroke can happen to anyone of any age. When the temperatures are high, you have to take steps to avoid getting sick
- Don’t exercise in the heat of the day. Early morning and late evening are better times.
- Drink 8 glasses of water per day.
- Limit alcohol.
- If you don’t have air conditioning at home, try to spend time in a library, a mall, at the movies or anywhere else that’s got AC.
- Wear light-colored clothing.
Be especially careful with babies. Older people are at higher risk for heatstroke too, as are people with underlying health conditions.
Enough Fluid in the Heat
When you’re physically active, it’s way too easy to become dehydrated, especially during the warmer months.
- Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. By the time you’re thirsty, you’re already getting a bit dehydrated.
- Drink about 12 to 20 ounces of water 2 to 3 hours before an athletic event.
- Drink water after you exercise
- Small children can easily become dehydrated. They should drink water every 15 to 20 minutes while they’re exercising.
Source: National Association for Sports and Physical Education
Women, Weights and a Myth
The biggest myth of all about women and weight lifting is that lifting will create muscles like a man’s. According to researchers at the American College of Sports Medicine, even women who spend hours a day lifting weights still have muscle fibers smaller than the average man.
Lifting weights has a lot of benefits—it makes muscle more efficient at using fat for fuel; it improves the body’s ability to use insulin, reducing susceptibility to diabetes; it can help build and retain bone strength.
If you’d like to start a weight-lifting program, talk to a respected fitness trainer, your doctor or other exercise specialist. And give yourself 3 to 6 months before you start to notice visible improvements.
Source: New York Times, Women’s Health Section, 23 June 2002Health Psychology, July 2001.