You've decided to get fit, Now make sure you're exercising
correctly to get the most benefit and avoid injuries. Try these
ideas from Ken Rashad, youth fitness instructor for Warrenville
1. Tennis Ball Drop and Sprint (using a
Exerciser stands in defensive position. Partner stands 10 feet
away facing exerciser and holding a tennis ball in one hand at
Partner drops the tennis ball, making one high bounce off the
Exerciser sprints toward partner, attempting to catch the tennis
ball before it touches the ground again.
Perform 3-5 sets.
Use walk back to start as rest.
2. Crab Walk
Balance on your hands and feet with your front facing the
ceiling and your hips thrust upwards, with your rear slightly
elevated off the floor. Walk 5-10 yards while maintaining this
position the entire distance. The crab walk improves strength in
your upper body: triceps, chest and shoulders.
3. Wood Chopper
Stand straight up with your feet shoulder width apart. Hold a
medicine ball with both hands with your arms fully extended. Bend
down attempting to touch one foot with the medicine ball and return
back to the start position. During the next repetition attempt to
touch the foot opposite of the foot that you did on the first
repetition. Try touching alternate feet and returning to the start
position 8-10 times. The Wood Chopper improves strength in the
lower back, abs and shoulders.
Nick Machacek is in many ways a typical 10-year-old: He enjoys
spending time with his friends and likes to use the computer.
Nick's doctor noticed his weight was tending toward the high side,
like many kids in the U.S. today.
But that's where the similarities to many kids end because Nick
and his parents decided to take charge of their health and get
In addition to making dietary changes, Nick and his Joliet
family now have a goal of exercising 60 minutes a day, and it's
making a difference.
"It's not really that hard," Nick says. "I ride my bike a lot,
and my scooter, and I play basketball with my best friend. At
school ... I get a lot of cardio-we like to play tag. On nice days,
we have games of kickball where there's a lot of running."
Even when he's not outside, Nick looks for opportunities to
Getting kids to exercise can be a challenge in these times of
video games and texting, but study after study shows kids need to
move to stay healthy. The statistics are scary: about 17 percent of
children and adolescents, age 2-19, are obese, according to the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These kids are at risk
for health problems, including a greater chance of having high
blood pressure, high cholesterol and Type 2 diabetes, and are more
likely to become obese as adults.
"Long-lasting weight control and fitness aren't likely without
increased activity," says Dr. Robert Andersen, pediatrician and
author of The No-Gimmick Guide to Raising Fit Kids. Like adults,
Andersen says kids should participate in the three building blocks
of fitness: aerobic (walking, running, swimming), strength (weight
lifting) and flexibility (stretching).
Andersen and Ken Rashad, youth fitness instructor for the
Warrenville Park District and Nick's exercise "coach," say it's
easier to get kids off the computer and into physical activity if
you exercise as a family.
"Make opting for healthier food choices and becoming more
physically active a group effort," says Rashad. "When possible,
parents should consider joining their child during daily physical
activities. This will boost your child's confidence and self-esteem
as they look forward to exercising more frequently."
Nick and his family exercise together when they can.
"Kids should get at least one hour of moderate physical activity
daily," adds Rashad. "Ideally, the activity would include a
combination of strength training, cardiovascular activities and
Getting it done
If an hour a day sounds like a lot, start with smaller
increments and work up to 60 minutes. Breaking exercise up into
smaller time frames that add up to an hour counts, too. Chart your
family's progress. Set goals, measure, demonstrate improvement,
then set new goals.
"Motivate your kids by rewarding them with something other than
food," Andersen recommends. For example, extra time for a hobby,
credits toward purchase of home fitness equipment, a movie with mom
and dad, tickets to a ball game or a sleepover with friends may get
pre-teens and adolescents up off the couch; younger children often
are motivated by stickers on a chart, extra reading at bedtime or
trips to the zoo. "All kids will appreciate hugs, kisses and
You don't have to break the family budget either. No need to
join a fancy health club: Take a hike, bike, swim, jump rope, play
outside, participate in competitive sports and other sports like
tennis and golf.
"Build slowly and stay with it," Andersen advises. "It's
essential kids enjoy the exercise. Let them choose the activities
as much as possible."
Nick's routine, under Rashad's supervision, consists of warming
up with leg and arm stretches; doing a "circuit" of activity,
including jumping hurdles, doing 20 jumping jacks and 15 push ups;
and going up and down a stair step 20 times. They finish by running
a few laps around a track, followed by cool-down exercises.
In addition, it's a good idea to balance activities three or
four times a week with a day of rest between sessions to allow
muscle tissue to recover.
"Some muscle soreness is normal, especially when starting, but
pain or swelling isn't, and needs to be evaluated by a physician,"
says Andersen, who was named one of America's Top Pediatricians by
the Consumers' Research Council of America.
Whatever exercise you choose, consider this a change in your
family's lifestyle and continue it indefinitely.
Empower your kids
Nick's mom, Sherry, says her son maintains an exercise log to
keep track of his activity and is making sure Nick learns to make
good, healthy choices.
"I can't watch him 24 hours a day," she says. "He has to be able
to make choices himself."
"Ken encourages me to get my heart rate up a bit, but not be
super-tired, just enough where you feel good that you worked out,"
Nick says. "And I burn tons of calories. I'm feeling a lot
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