Tag Archives: Play

It’s HOT Out There: Exercise Safe!

July and August can be some of the hottest months in South Dakota. Along with a drastic change in temperature, many individuals participate in a variety of different sports and spend prolonged periods of time in the sun during this seasonal change. The human body serves as a great temperature regulator, but without practicing proper safety precautions, it is possible for the body to overheat.

Exercising in the heat increases your sweat rate, fluid loss, and your risk for dehydration. Sweating is how your thermoregulatory system within your body cools you down. If you become too hot, it is hard for your sweating rate to keep up and keep body temperatures down. Thus, with the increased temperatures outdoors, there is an increased risk for heat illnesses. Additionally, children are less efficient at regulating their body temperatures and can become overheated and dehydrated much quicker than an adult. If you as an adult feel hot, your child probably feels a lot warmer.

Common Heat Illnesses

Common heat illnesses include heat cramps, heat syncope, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. Below are some common signs and symptoms for heat illnesses:

  • Heat Cramps: Muscle twitching, cramps, spasms
  • Heat Syncope: Pale skin, slowed heart rate, slowed breathing rate, nausea, weakness
  • Heat Exhaustion: Excessive thirst, dry tongue/mouth, fatigue, weakness, nausea, slightly elevated temp, mental dullness, excessive sweating
  • Heat Stroke: Central nervous system abnormalities (i.e. fatigue, confusion, headache, possible loss of consciousness, etc.), decreased or lack of sweating, rapidly increased heart rate and blood pressure

Safety Considerations

When engaging in physical activity during hot summer days or if you are going to be in the sun for prolonged hours follow these safety precautions:

  • Wear loose-fitting, breathable, light-colored clothing
  • Monitor hydration/fluid intake:
    • Drink plenty of water – even if you don’t feel thirsty!
    • Take frequent water breaks, especially during intense physical activity
    • Avoid caffeinated drinks, such as pop or soda
    • Drinks containing carbohydrates and electrolytes can also be consumed
  • Find shelter in shaded areas
  • Watch for signs and symptoms of heat illnesses (above)
  • Avoid physical activity during peak heat, instead try early morning or late evening times
  • Wear sunscreen
  • Rest often and take it easy

Be mindful and pay attention to your body, if you suspect a heat illness seek medical help immediately. Dizziness, cramps, nausea, vomiting, confusion and headaches are all causes for alarm. If you need to, move your workout indoors for a few days.

Additional Resources

See more at iGrow

Helping Kids Get Active

Today, there’s a world of entertainment for kids that has nothing to do with playing outside. Establishing healthy activity and eating patterns needs to start at a young age. But here’s a scary fact: About 75% of kids around the country aren’t getting the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity daily, including kids who are overweight.

For these kids, it can be more difficult to be active due to embarrassment, peer bullying, and physical challenges associated with getting into an activity routine. Overweight and obese youth also tend to be less active due to poor motor skills.

So how can we get kids who are overweight to be more active?

First, it’s important for parents to be involved and encouraging. Research shows that parents today see normal weight children as being underweight, while overweight children are viewed as normal, and children with obesity are seen as being just “a little too heavy.” With these misconceptions parents are much less likely to prioritize healthy behaviors like physical activity.

Second, the activity should be something the child will enjoy. Very few kids are going to be excited about a gym; I suggest parents and caregivers focus on increasing playtime.

Muscle-strengthening activities can be unstructured and part of play, such as playing on playground equipment, climbing trees, and playing tug-of-war or structured, such as lifting weights or working with resistance bands. Aerobic training are those in which young people rhythmically move their large muscles. Running, hopping, skipping, jumping rope, swimming, dancing, and bicycling are all examples of aerobic activities. Aerobic activities increase cardiorespiratory fitness. Although aerobic activity is important, if you start with fun activities involving strength exercises you can build up the child’s confidence and strength over time to eventually include more aerobics.

Try games where kids toss balls with varying high-to-low throws. Squatting to catch a low throw is much more fun than standing at the gym doing squats. Medicine balls are great because kids can use them at home and while playing with others.

Parents/caregivers should also encourage kids to be creative and come up with their own exercises – this makes the activity more fun.

The bottom line: it’s too challenging and discouraging for an overweight child to jump right into high intensity physical activity. We need to start by simply getting kids out of being sedentary through fun activities, then work up from there.

 

Posted on July 15, 2015 by Sonja Goedkoop, MSPH, RD @ American Institute for Cancer Research

Physical Activity and Your Toddler

During the toddler developmental years, manipulative, locomotor, and non-locomotor skills begin to emerge. These fundamental skills are the prerequisites for more complex skills of later childhood and adulthood. Recent research suggests that if children do not master these fundamental motor skills during childhood, they may be less physically active as an adult.

Toddlers should have access to stimulating environments that engage the toddler in movement activities and movement experiences. Due to the crucial role physical activity plays in skill development, it is important to follow the 5 recommended physical activity guidelines from the National Association of Sport and Physical Education for toddlers (1-3 years old) discussed below:

Guideline 1: Toddlers should engage in a total of at least 30 minutes of structured physical activity each day.

Guideline 2: Toddlers should engage in at least 60 minutes — and up to several hours — per day of unstructured physical activity and should not be sedentary for more than 60 minutes at a time, except when sleeping.

Guideline 3: Toddlers should be given ample opportunities to develop movement skills that will serve as the building blocks for future motor skillfulness and physical activity.

Guideline 4: Toddlers should have access to indoor and outdoor areas that meet or exceed recommended safety standards for performing large-muscle activities.

Guideline 5: Those in charge of toddlers’ well-being are responsible for understanding the importance of physical activity and promoting movement skills by providing opportunities for structured and unstructured physical activity and movement experiences.

To summarize these guidelines in a simpler format, toddlers should be provided with plenty of safe opportunities to engage in physical activity. They should have many opportunities for both structured (parent or caregiver initiated) and unstructured (child-initiated) physical activity. For example, structured physical activity ideas might include: musical instruments, rhythmical tapes, and acting out imaginative poems or stories. Unstructured physical activity examples include: grasping large balls, riding tricycle, digging, building, playing in sandbox, playing on playground equipment, and playing with peers.

Check out Alabama Cooperative Extension System’s publication Getting Young Children Ready to Learn for daily activities and interactions that develop large and fine muscle skills, or We Have the Moves physical activity resource for some great activity ideas.

Source: iGrow; Physical Activity and Your Toddler by Nikki Porsch

Tips to Get Active

Part of a healthy lifestyle is staying physically active.

Doctors say kids your age should be physically active for at least 60 minutes a day. Here are some tips to keep in mind during physical activity:

  1. Physical activity is fun! Being physically active doesn’t have to be a hard or scary thing. Did you know that riding bikes with your friends, jumping rope, playing hopscotch, and running around the park with your friends are all types of physical activity? Any game where you are up and moving are great ways to stay physically active and make your heart, bones, and muscles strong.
  2. Keep it exciting: Ask your friends what their favorite types of physical activity are and make a list of all of them. Make a deal with your friends to try a new activity off the list each week. Who knows, you may learn a new game!
  3. On the playground: Do you sometimes get scared to play a sport with your friends because you think you don’t know how? That’s okay, no one knows how to play every sport. So, the next time your friends start playing a game that you aren’t sure of, ask one of them for help. They will be happy to show you and glad that you are playing with them!
  4. After school: We all have our favorite TV shows and video games, but did you know that too much of those are bad for your health? The more we watch TV or play video games, the less physically active we are. It is okay to do those things some of the time, but no more than 2 hours a day. Ask your parents to help you keep a chart of how long you watch TV or play video games each day and when you come home from school go for a bike ride or shoot some hoops before starting on your homework. Not only will you feel better, but you will think better too!
  5. Warm up before you start. For example, if you’re going to be running, start by walking. Then walk fast, and then speed up to a jog to increase your heart rate. **Fun Fact: A “warm up” is really your muscles “warming up!” When you aren’t active your muscles are cooler and tighter. Make it easier on your muscles by letting them get gradually loose and warmer instead of making them go straight from cold to hot (this is also important after your workout to keep from going from hot to cold too fast).
  6. Stretching after any workout is very important to help prevent injury or strain. **Fun Tip: Pick 2 to 3 of your favorite songs to play while you are stretching and don’t stop stretching until those songs are over. This will help the minutes go by fast and make sure you are stretching long enough.
  7. Water is your friend – the harder and longer you work out, the more you need to hydrate.  **Fun Fact: Did you know that 70% of your body is made of water? Make sure to replace whatever water you sweat out after each workout- your body needs it!
  8. Mix it up and keep it fun! Don’t get stuck in a workout rut. Try and incorporate a new exercise every few weeks to keep you motivated. **Fun Fact: Did you know that your body can get used to an exercise? After a while your same workout won’t have the same effects. Try a lot of different activities and sports to keep your body guessing and to improve your fitness.
  9. Break it up – you don’t have to have 60 minute workouts. As long as your daily physical activity adds up to at least 60 minutes, you are okay.  **Fun Tip: Start a “Workout Log” to track your exercise every day. 20 minutes intervals throughout the day will add up fast- who knows, you may even clock more than 60!

When we are smart about the way we play, our bodies can become healthier, stronger, and faster. Try to use new tip a week to recharge your playtime.

Source: American Heart Association; Hey Kids! Try these tips to Get Active

 

5 Ways Play Can Change Your Day

It doesn’t matter how you move, as long as you’re physically active. Move until you breathe hard or break a sweat and you will be doing great things for your body and physical health. Here are five changes you may start noticing today:

  1. Sleep tight: Being physically active will help you improve your sleep.
    **Fun Fact: Your body and your brain communicate constantly. By being physically active during the day your body can send the “I am tired” message instead of the “I am still awake” message when you are going to bed.

  2. Improve your mood: Physical activity can give you a better attitude and give you an extra energy boost during the day.
    **Fun Fact: Drinking a caffeinated beverage (like coffee, energy drinks or soda) does give you an energy boost, but it will wear off after only two hours and will usually leave you more tired than you were before. Exercise releases chemicals in your body that will give you an energy boost that lasts all day. So cut the calories of those energy drinks and get your body moving!

  3. Fuel your brain: Twenty minutes of physical activity before starting your homework can help you unwind from the day and improve your concentration.
    **Fun Tip: Try and schedule your workouts before you sit down to do your homework or keep a basketball or jump rope by your desk for a quick break to regain focus.

  4. Bond with buddies: Engaging in physical activity with your friends is a great way to bond with your friends and to even make new ones.
    **Fun Tip: Join a community sports team or organize your friends for an after-school game of pick-up. Not only will your workouts be more fun, but your friends will be counting on you to show up helping to make sure you don’t miss your 60 minutes.

  5. Stretch your talent: Make stretching part of your pre- and post- workout sessions. It can help improve your balance which in turn enhances your coordination and athletic performance.
    **Fun Fact: Most sports injuries can be prevented by maintaining flexibility. Ensure your time in the game and not on the bench by stretching every day.

Source: American Heart Association; 5 Ways that Play can Change your Day