It’s the holidays!
Here in North America, children are out of school and perhaps you are taking a few days off from either work or your normal routine. Some of us may take a week off for a trip with family or stay at home (a “homecation”) to take in some of the local fare or complete some of those bigger errands on our to-do list before 2016 runs out . Whatever you may be doing for the holidays, plan on some major chunks of time to experience the outdoors with your family. Most importantly MOVE.
None of us can ignore the benefits of movement. For your classroom, you may have already put together a unit and materials for children to understand healthy living and exercise. But if you are like me, I need reminding to keep me motivated to get out there and celebrate this beautiful creation of ours. Here is a list, compiled by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, of how regular physical activity can improve you and a child’s overall health:
- Control your weight
- Reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease
- Reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome
- Reduce your risk of some cancers
- Strengthen your bones and muscles
- Improve your mental health and mood
- Improve your ability to do daily activities and prevent falls, if you’re an older adult
- Increase your chances of living longer
Movement is not…
It can mean many things to different people but movement is not:
- Mall hopping
- Sitting behind the wheel for a drive in the country
- Being a couch potato watching the tube
- Even playing board or card games even though these are great for enhancing logic, language and reading skills as they build connectivity pathways in the brain.
- Sitting in a cafe writing a blog post (Oops, that’s what I am doing now!)
- Can you think of others? Share it with others. Add to the comments below.
There are so many ways to get and stay moving over the holidays. If you live in a cold climate and need to stay indoors, here is list by MommyPoppins.com, a New York City area website for children, parent(s) and families. If you can go out in cold weather, here are some ideas from the Seattle Children’s Hospital website:
- Create a nature book: Grab a camera, colored pencils, glue and a notebook and explore nature. Have kids write down observations and draw pictures of plants and animals. Collect twigs, leaves and flowers and glue them in the nature book. See how many plants a child can collect and take lots of pictures to document the places you explore.
- Go on a scavenger hunt: Make a list of items – pinecones, rocks, seeds, etc. Take a basket and collect the items on the list. Be sure to cross out each item you find. Add descriptors to the list as well – e.g. something smooth, rough, brown.
- Take a night hike: All you need is a flashlight or headlamp, warm clothes and walking shoes. Get the family together and take a night hike around the neighborhood.
- Collect rocks: Collect various rocks for rock crafts. All you need is glue, paint and wiggle eyes.
- Watch for wildlife: Grab binoculars, a magnifying glass and a pencil and paper and go for a wildlife watch. Have kids draw the animals they discover.
- Go on a color hunt: Grab a couple of color swatches and take the family on a “color hunt.” Help kids write down the color and name of each item, and draw a picture of each find.
- Take a bike ride: Take a family bike ride around the neighborhood. Make sure the whole family wears helmets!
- Go snowboarding or skiing: Hit the slopes! Spend a day mastering the bunny hills. Skiing and snowboarding are great ways to get kids moving. Just make sure you have protective gear and bundle up.
(For more information on these activities, go to the Seattle Children’s Hospital website)
Put it on the calendar. Make it a lifestyle.
For 2017, put exercise as a recurring calendar item for the entire family. It is a great way to be together and it let’s your child know that taking care of one’s physical health is an important part of our education and lifestyle. Let your child get in on the planning by allowing them to decide some of the activities from various choices. If it’s a new activity you may want to start out slow and not over exert yourself or a family member. Keep it enjoyable and repeatable. Make sure the activities are safe and that everyone is healthy enough to participate. Most of all, have fun.
Ready? Set? Move!