Friday, January 21, 2011

Get Fit!

Has your New Year's resolution for you and your family to get (or stay) in shape already winding down? Don't let the cold weather stop you! The Center for Disease Control and Prevention says that children need 60 minutes of physical activity a day (click here). The majority of the 60 minutes should be an aerobic activity, meaning a good heart pumping activity like fast walking or running. Push-ups or other muscle strengthening moves should be done at least 3 times a week as part of the 60 minutes. Other exercises to include are things like jumping rope which help to strengthen bones. These moves also count towards the 60 minutes, and like muscle strengthening, should be done at least 3 times a week.

While all this sounds like a lot, it's really not! Kids run around all time, getting exercise during gym and recess at school. It's important to continue physical activity at home by encouraging kids to get off the couch and go to the park or participate in sports.

Adults, we're not off the hook either! The CDC reports from the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans that adults need both aerobic exercise and muscle strengthening. There are several ways you can do this.

  • 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic activity every week (like brisk walking) combined with working all your major muscle groups by doing strengthening moves two days a week
  • or 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity each week (like jogging/running) combined with working all major muscle groups via strengthening moves twice a week
  • or an equal mix of moderate and vigorous activity along with doing the strength training twice a week
Why doesn't the family exercise together? Go for a walk outside, play tag, or have a contest to see how many sit-ups everyone can do. Give out rewards like stickers or mini trophies. Show that you're having a good time being fit and moving around so that they'll be excited to join you. Give positive encouragement so that they feel like they can do it. Pretty soon everyone will be having so much fun they won't realize they're getting healthy while they're doing it.

What happens when the frigid temperature comes and it's too cold to be outside? Then turn on some music and have a family dance party! Or, for the older kids, consider getting a Wii Fit to help everyone stay active. The library has lots of exercise videos for kids as well. Stop by and pick up a title and everyone can try it out together. Not only will you have fun spending time together as a family, but you'll be stronger and fitter too.

Videos to try out:

Alphabet Fitness
Get Fit America for Kids
Tae Bo Kicks
YogaKids: Silly to Calm

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