Today I have an extra special treat for you; a guest post from Emily Patterson of Primrose Schools on what you can do to get your family more active. She has some great ideas to share, and I’d love to hear from you if you’ve tried any of these techniques! One way you can move as a family is at the Honolulu 5K for Kids on May 1. Don’t forget to register if you haven’t already; all the proceeds go towards funding physical education programs in Hawaii public schools.
Tips for Getting Your Family Active
Experts suggest that young children need to accumulate at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. Unfortunately, many children are not nearly as active as they need to be. It is clear that along with poor diet, physical inactivity has contributed to the large increase in childhood obesity in the United States in the past 20 years. The following statistics are unsettling:
Between 16 and 33 percent of children and adolescents are obese nationwide.
(Source: American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry)
The percentage of obese or overweight children is at or above 30 percent in 30 states. (Source: Trust for America’s Health)
Research has shown that children who develop basic motor skills such as throwing, catching, kicking, are more likely to grow into healthy active adults. Whether the activity be at home with their parents or at their child care facility with their friends, studies have shown that daily physical activity helps children academically as well.
Dr. Stephen Sanders (director of the School of Physical Education and Exercise Science at the University of South Florida and member of the Primrose Schools Education Advisory Board), says that children do not necessarily learn physical skills on their own. He has found they need guidance and assistance from adults, challenging activities, and opportunities to practice and refine physical skills.
So, what can parents do to teach their children about the importance of being physically active and help them learn these necessary skills? Trying the tips below will help you and your family create a fun environment for physical activity and will contribute to everyone’s physical health.
Getting Your Family Active:
Be active with your children:Don’t just send your children outside to play–be a role model! Go outside with them and participate in games and other activities that require physical exertion!
Use sidewalk chalk to create your own four-square or hopscotch grids; blow bubbles then chase them around the yard to see who can catch them; go on a walk around the neighborhood or through a park as a family; play music and dance inside or outside; and when the weather is nice put on your bathing suits and run through the sprinklers.
Promote a feeling of success when you play with your child. If your child is not yet able to successfully throw and hit a target, encourage them to move a little closer so they can be successful. Skills are acquired incrementally. Children who do not experience success have a tendency to quit and not practice.
Acknowledge their efforts with specific comments. No matter what your child’s skill level is, be a supportive coach. They will benefit from your encouragement.
When children come into the world, physical activity is at the very center of their lives. They have a mission to learn to crawl, walk, run, throw, catch, and kick. If they are going to enjoy participating in physical activities now and as adults, they need to build on that foundation of success and enjoyment that begins in infancy. So, grab a ball, badminton racket, or jump rope and set aside time each day to play with your child!
The thing I like about hiking is that it can be a great workout, but it doesn’t have to feel like one. It’s an adventure, a chance to experience something new. I love a good gym workout too, but a windowless box really doesn’t offer the same sense of accomplishment or the views that Koko Head, Mauawili Falls, or any of the other trails on Oahu do. The other great thing about hiking is that it can be enjoyable for your whole family, keiki and kupuna included, provided you choose a trail that matches everyone’s ability. And best of all, it’s FREE!
Hiking with kids brings its own special set of challenges, the trail selection being just the first. If you are unsure about which trail to start with, or need some ideas about kid-friendly hikes other than Manoa Falls and Diamond Head then check out Outdoor Ohana. Allison and her family have tackled many Oahu trails and she gives a wealth of information about each. This is actually a great resource for anyone looking for detailed information about some of the easier hikes on the island, whether or not you have children.
Before you set out on the trail, make sure you prepare! Pack enough water and snacks to make sure everyone can avoid hunger induced crankiness and is properly hydrated. Fruit, sandwiches, and homemade trail mix (or a brand without added sweeteners, oils, dyes, or preservatives) all travel very well. Remember that you are doing something to benefit your health, so avoid loading up on sodas, sports drinks, candy, and other junk. Carry insect repellent, especially in the wetter areas. Make sure everyone has proper footwear: slippers are generally not a good idea.
Play games on the trail. An hour or two can seem like a REALLY long time for a child (and for their parents too!). Play twenty questions. Point out a something in the distance and have your children guess how many step there and back it is, then have them check. Ask younger children to find something as tall as they are. See who can balance a leaf of their head for the longest amount of time. You don’t have to be continuously entertaining your kids, you sometimes it’s helpful for them to have a short term distraction during the longer-term time frame of completing the hike.
Photocopy the pages for your hike from a trail guide. There is no need to lug around 5 pound book when you will only need a few pages at a time. If you’re into having insider information, guidebooks are full of factoids. You’ll be glad your not weighed down by tons of extra stuff by the end, especially if you needed to help out one of the little ones for awhile.
Any other good tips about outdoor excursions with kids you’d like to share? What’s your favorite Hawaii family hike?
Don’t forget to sign up for the Honolulu 5K for Kids! It supports much needed, but chronically underfunded physical education programs in Hawaii Public Schools.
Chicken breast is a great lean protein source, and you may even have some in your freezer or fridge right now! But if the thought of boiled chicken breast with plain steamed broccoli makes you a little depressed, don’t worry. Nutritious food that supports your health goals doesn’t have to be bland, and it doesn’t have to be complicated. This recipe is super easy, quick (minus the marinade time when it needs absolutely none of your attention), and delicious! You will probably even be able to get your kids to eat it without much pleading or bribing. I use wheat germ here because it adds a ton of fiber and protein, but you can also use whole wheat bread crumbs or panko if that’s what you have on hand. These chicken fingers would be great with that steamed broccoli or garlic sauteed kale.
Orange Coconut Chicken Fingers
1.5 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into strips
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup 100% orange juice
1 cup wheat germ
½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
salt and pepper to taste
Mix orange juice and garlic in a medium bowl. Toss with the chicken breast strips and cover. Marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for any time between two hours and overnight, stirring occasionally on evenly flavor the chicken.
Preheat oven to 400F. In a small bowl, beat the eggs; set aside. In a large bowl, combine wheat germ coconut, salt, and pepper. Coat one piece of chicken with the egg, then coat it with the wheat germ mixture. Place the coated chicken on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat with the rest of the chicken, and then bake until cooked through, 20-25 minutes.
Nutrition information per serving. 382 calories, 13.2g fat, 20g carbohydrates, 5 g fiber, 43 grams protein
Jumping rope is one of the most effective cardiovascular conditioning exercises there is, and it can be performed by people of all ages and abilities. It is also a particularly good activity for families to do together: kids love it, and adults will definitely get in a good workout, even by spending just a few minutes with the rope. Jumping rope improves balance, agility, coordination, muscle strength, and endurance. It is also a fat scorcher! Depending on your weight and how vigorously you jump, you can burn anywhere from 10-20 calories PER MINUTE! But, perhaps most importantly, it is fun!
Exercise doesn’t just occur in a gym or through an organized sports team, and it doesn’t have to happen in a 1-2 hour block of time that is completely separate from your everyday life. The Center for Disease Control recommends that adults get 150 minutes of moderate activity a week and that children ages 6-17 get 60 minutes of physical activity a day. Those numbers may sound daunting, but remember that this time can be broken up into 10 minute intervals throughout the day and be just as effective as a single session. If you’re curious as to how you might add a quick jump roping session into your family’s routine, please check out this video for ideas!