Tips for Making Exercise a Family Affair

Parents need to engage in regular physical activity, not only for their own health, but for their children’s benefit, as well. Children learn by example. Let your children know that you enjoy exercising because it’s an important part of a healthy lifestyle, it helps you get stronger and gives you more energy, which helps make you look and feel better about yourself.

It can be difficult for parents to fit exercise into their family’s busy schedules. With a little planning and creativity, however, you can find ways to exercise with your children. Listed below are some simple ways you can exercise with your children:

Infant through Preschool Aged Children
Grab the stroller and go for a brisk walk with your children. You could also purchase a jogging stroller, which allows you
to walk faster, jog, or run at a fast pace while pushing the stroller.
Use a back carrier to transport young children. Carrying the added weight can help burn extra calories as you walk.
If your child is walking, take a leisurely stroll around the block or at a nearby park. Remember to limit the distance; little legs
can tire quickly.
Turn on some lively music and dance with your children.
Use an infant carrier or bike trailer to go on a bike ride with your children.

Grade School Aged Children
Try in-line skating or skating. Be sure that everyone is equipped with helmets and protective gear.
Spend an afternoon at the park or playground. Bring along a flying disc or football so that you and your children can play together.
Play a game of catch or kickball in your backyard.
Go for a hike in the forest or bicycle ride on a nearby nature trail.
Let your children help you in the yard. They can help you dig holes, plant flowers, and rake leaves.

Teenage Children
Go for a walk with your children after dinner each night.
Purchase a family membership at a local health club and work out together several days each week.
Play tennis, golf or basketball with your children.
Register your family for a run or walk event in your area. You can also train together before the event.
Join a community volleyball or softball team that is open to teens and adults.

Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis and School

About one in 1,000 children have Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. The number of new cases each year is nine per 100,000 population. School can be a difficult place for children with arthritis – academically, socially, and behaviorally. Teachers can be great allies in keeping children with JRArthritis safe and successful in school. Author and parent Teri Mauro shares five things that all teachers should know.

The Arthritis Foundation website provides comprehensive information about the disease. In addition, the importance of regular exercise and physical fitness programs is addressed at the website. According to CIGNA, the child’s teachers, school nurse, cafeteria staff, and physical education teachers can become helpful partners with parents as the child copes with JRA at school. They should work together to develop creative ways of dealing with the child’s limitations while making the best of his or her abilities. If the child has trouble walking distances, the child’s classes might be scheduled to minimize walking and stair climbing. If the child gets stiff sitting still during class, perhaps the teacher can encourage him or her to wiggle around and stretch during the class. If the child has trouble writing neatly, he or she might try using a larger pencil or pen. The school’s physical or occupational therapist may share more ideas. Be sure to learn about the child’s rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and other federal and state laws regarding the education of children with disabilities.

Bicycling for Fun and Wellness

If you’re looking for a healthy activity that you and your whole family can enjoy together, why not consider cycling? You might remember riding down the street as a child to visit your friends on your bike but did you realize that biking is a great way to get healthy and have a fun activity that your entire family can enjoy? There are many benefits to cycling that anyone at any age or level of physical fitness can enjoy.


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Spread the Word, Not the Germs!

Can you believe one of the easiest and most inexpensive preventative medicine strategies is literally available at your fingertips and costs less than one penny? It is called hand washing.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “hand washing is the single most important means of preventing the spread of infection.” Hand transmission is a critical factor in the spread of bacteria and viruses causing disease such as colds, flu, and food-borne illness. See Tips on Hand Washing from the CDC.

According to the Henry the Hand – Champion Handwasher website, there are four important principles of handwashing.
1. Wash your hands when they are dirty or before eating.
2. Do not cough into your hands.
3. Do not sneeze into your hands.
4. Above all, do not put your fingers in your eyes, nose, or mouth.

This website also includes a song and videos that are part of their program for schools. Students are trained to stay away from the T Zone (mucous membranes around the eyes, nose, and mouth) as this is where the vast majority of diseases enter the body. In fact, These are the entry point for 100% of all respiratory and gastro-intestinal diseases. Children are also encouraged to try the sniff test; if hands smell clean, they are clean.

Stop the spread of germs that can make you and others sick! Influenza (flu) and other serious respiratory illnesses are spread by cough, sneezing or unclean hands.  In addition to good handwashing, the CDC recommends these precautions to help stop the spread of germs: To help stop the spread of germs,

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Put your used tissue in the waste basket.
  • If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands.
  • You may be asked to put on a facemask to protect others.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds.
  • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.

The Parent’s Role in Combating Childhood Obesity

Statistics show that as many as twenty-five percent of children and teens today are obese. But how does a parent know when their child is truly obese? All children gain weight as they grow older. Extra pounds – more than their body needs to support their growth and development – can become a concern.

When a child or teen is above the accepted weight range for their height and age, parents must take note. In recent years, several “adult” diseases have begun to show in children on a more regular basis, including diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. According to the Mayo Clinic website, a parent’s role is to involve the entire family in better nutrition and more activity.

In “The Role of Parents in Preventing Childhood Obesity” by Ana C. Lindsay, Katarina M. Sussner, Juhee Kim, and Steven Gortmaker, it is argued that “interventions aimed at preventing childhood overweight and obesity should involve parents as important forces for change in their children’s behaviors.” A story from ABC News offers these practical tips for parents:

Create a family activity that involves fitness, such as walks, bike rides, or rollerblading.

Find other families in your neighborhood and schedule time for basketball, hide and seek, and other active games.

Give kids active chores around the house — vacuum, wash the car, or mow the lawn.

Limit TV privileges.

Plan a healthy diet for the entire family.

Avoid using food as a reward for good behavior or withholding a meal as punishment.

Eat meals together and pay attention to portion size.

Choose fruits, vegetables, and yogurt as snacks and avoid items high in fat, sugar, and calories.

If a child is not hungry, avoid forcing child to eat.

Parents can and must take a positive role in ensuring every opportunity for a healthy childhood for children.