Fit summer, fun summer

According to the American Medical Journal, the physical fitness and health-related benefits kids get from regular doses of gym class and sports participation during the school year tend to dwindle during the hazy, lazy days of summer.

And while school-centered activity initiatives are a critical conduit for promoting health and well-being, a sustained and yearlong approach to physical fitness is absolutely critical in staving off the epidemic of overweight-related concerns and obesity currently plaguing our country.

You don’t have to rely on expensive gym memberships or fancy equipment to keep your kids active, happy and energized this summer. Let this be your call to action to wage a‘Get Out and Play’ campaign this summer. Help instill in your kids a lifelong love of physical activity that will keep them healthy and strong and can extend well into their adult years.

Physical activity is critical for the whole family; studies have shown that when mom and dad are active, so are their kids. So get outside with your kids, enjoy the warm temperatures and beautiful sunsets and share the experience of being active with your children.

The human body is a terribly complex and yet very simplistic instrument. The reality behind maintaining a healthy, functional body that is resistant to illness and disease, devoid of physical aliments and pain and full of energy and vitality can be summed up in one simple word: Move.

This straightforward concept is what the human body is meant to do naturally.

These four exercises are perfect examples of how fun and‘no tools necessary’ can combine to offer a fantastic exercise program for you and your kids.

Push-Up Position‘Slap’

This exercise is perfect for developing a strong torso (abdominal muscles) as well as upper body (shoulders, arms and chest) strength.

Start facing a partner, with both of you on the ground in a raised push-up position.

You can perform a push-up in between each‘hand slap’ in order to increase difficulty, but it is not necessary for enjoying the full benefits of the exercise.

Keeping your arms straight and your abdominal muscles braced, take your right hand off the ground and give your partner a‘high five slap.’

You will feel your abdominal muscles contract as soon as you take your hand off the ground.

Repeat 5-10 times per hand.

One-Leg Reach

This exercise is essential for developing leg strength and balance.

Stand on one foot with your hands either at your sides or in the air above your head.

Bend your knee and reach for the ground—you do not have to touch the ground for this exercise to be effective. How deeply you bend and how low you reach will depend on your flexibility and general strength.

Be sure that you are pushing your hips back (as if you were sitting in a chair) rather than pushing your knee forward.

Repeat 10-15 times per leg.

Spider Stance

This exercise is great for torso strength as well as hip flexibility and mobility.

Start in a raised push-up position. Bring one knee up towards the outside of your elbow (same side elbow and knee), being sure that your back remains flat and your abdominal muscles braced.

Hold for 3-4 seconds and repeat on the other side.

Repeat 8-10 times per leg.

Scramble to Balance

This exercise is as fun as it gets. It is wonderful for balance and reaction time and includes a great element of cardiovascular conditioning, too.

Start on the ground, belly down and with your eyes closed.

Have someone say‘go.’

Stand up as fast as you can and balance on one leg, keeping your eyes closed.

Hold that position for five seconds and then go right back down to your belly and wait for the next‘go’ command.

Repeat this 10-15 times per leg.

Brian Grasso is the founder and CEO of the International Youth Conditioning Association. He is conducting youth fitness and sports performance camps at the Prairie Stone Sports and Wellness Center in Hoffman Estates this summer. For information, call (847) 767-4922.

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