Keeping Your Little Ones Active

Did you know that healthy, physically active kids also are more likely to be academically motivated, alert, and successful? In addition, physical competence builds self-esteem at every age. Among the many benefits of being active, also includes getting better sleep and decreased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

If getting more exercise is part of your family’s new year’s resolutions, check out these easy tips from our Kids Health education resource, to help encourage your kids to stay active and find the right activity for them:

• Choose the right activities for a child’s age: If you don’t, your child may be bored or frustrated.
• Give kids plenty of opportunity to be active: Kids need parents to make activity easy by providing equipment and taking them to playgrounds and other active spots.
• Keep the focus on fun: Kids won’t do something they don’t enjoy.

In addition to a child’s age, it’s important to consider his or her fitness personality. Personality traits, genetics, and athletic ability combine to influence kids’ attitudes toward participation in sports and other physical activities, particularly as they get older. Which of these three types best describes your child?

• The nonathlete: This child may lack athletic ability, interest in physical activity, or both.
• The casual athlete: This child is interested in being active but isn’t a star player and is at risk of getting discouraged in a competitive athletic environment.
• The athlete: This child has athletic ability, is committed to a sport or activity, and likely to ramp up practice time and intensity of competition.

If you understand the concepts of temperament and fitness types, you’ll be better able to help your kids find the right activities and get enough exercise. Some kids want to pursue excellence in a sport, while others may be perfectly happy and fit as casual participants.

Whatever their fitness personality, all kids can be physically fit. A parent’s positive attitude will help a child who’s reluctant to exercise. Be active yourself and support your kids’ interests. If you start this early enough, they’ll come to regard activity as a normal — and fun — part of your family’s everyday routine.

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Fun and Inexpensive Activities for Teens

Everyone is looking for ways to save these days – including your teens! The recent hike in gas prices doesn’t help, either. While there are many belt-tightening steps that you can take as a family, here are a few entertainment ideas for your teens. These creative activities for the weekend can help their wallets – and yours too!

  • Start your own ghost tour. Halloween is coming! Check out the creepiest houses in your area and take friends on “haunted house” tours so you can all make up stories about what might have happened there. If you live in a historic town you may be able to research town history and discover enough interesting stories to put together a real tour.
  • Have a karaoke party. The worse the singing, the better the fun.
  • Borrow a teach-yourself book or CD from the library – on many topics! Learn a new language, or how to make  inexpensive holiday gifts. You may find a lot of do-it-yourself tips online too.
  • Redecorate your room without spending a dime. Use only stuff you have around the house or found items like shells or old furniture. Discover new uses for old things, like making pillows and lampshades out of old dresses.
  • Design your own clothes or jewelry. Check out thrift stores for clothing you can cut up and customize, or use found items to make jewelry.
  • Plan a surprise picnic for your friends. Do the whole blanket and picnic basket bit, then find a park or beach and take in the view.
  • Cook dinner for your loved ones. Find a fun and easy recipe and cook for your family or friends. They will appreciate it for sure!
  • Host a movie night. Select your favorite movie and invite your friends over. For a fun alternative, you may want to contact your local library, which often loans out movie projectors and movies for free. Have everyone bring their favorite treat and popcorn to share. Enjoy!

Check out these additional tips to talk to your kids about money issues.

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Encourage Your Kids To Stay Active This Summer

The summer Olympics have officially started! In the spirit of the Olympics, here are some helpful tips to help your kids to stay fit and active during the summer months.

1. Get going with goals. When we don’t have a plan, it’s easy to spend the summer moving from couch to computer, with regular stops at the fridge. Avoid this by aiming for a specific goal, such as volunteering, mastering a new skill, or working at a job.

2. Stick to a schedule. With school out, we lose our daily routines. If you don’t have a specific job or activity to get up for, it’s easy to sleep late, or snack more than usual. Make sure your summer days have some structure — like getting up at the same time each day and eating meals at set times. Plan activities for specific times, like exercising before breakfast, for example.

3. Stay busy. When we’re bored, it’s easy to fall into a trap of doing nothing and then feeling low on energy. Filling your days with stuff to do can give you a sense of accomplishment. Limit your screen time — including TV, computer, and video games — to no more than 2 hours a day.

4. Beat the heat. Don’t let summer heat put your exercise plans on hold. Move your workout indoors. If a gym isn’t your thing, try bowling or an indoor climbing wall. If you love being outdoors, try going to a local pool or move a soccer or basketball game to early morning or evening.

5. Think about what you eat. Summer means picnics and barbecues — activities that revolve around an unlimited spread of food. Don’t overload your plate. Avoid going back for seconds and thirds. Choose seasonal, healthy foods like fresh fruit instead of high-sugar, high-fat desserts. Make catching up with family and friends your focus, not the food. Another tip for summer eating is to limit frozen treats like ice cream to no more than once a week.

Hopefully with these easy tips for your kids, and a little encouragement, they will enjoy staying focused and active this summer — like true Olympic champions!

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Rainy Day Activities for Kids

When the rain outside keeps the kids inside, parents’ patience can certainly be tested by bored children!  Try these activities to keep your kids entertained while “waiting out” cold, stormy weather.

• Play music and encourage your kids to exert their energy by dancing.  Let children take turns picking out the songs and leading the dance moves.
• Guide little adventurers on a treasure hunt around the house!  Hide a few items, draw a map and/or provide some clues, and see who wins.
• Engage in story telling.  Let your kids be the voices of the characters or act out the scenes, so they are active participants.
• Get crafty.  A paper bag and some crayons are all you need for a puppet – one that your child can use during story telling.
• Play “Simon Says” – but get Simon and the rest of his followers moving!
• Lights, Camera, Action.  Your kids could have a great time putting on a talent show or skit for you.  Make sure you bring out the video camera for this one!

A rainy day doesn’t have to lead to bored couch potatoes!  Hopefully these ideas will help bring a little “sunshine” to your day!