The Health Book   » Children and Exercise

The Health Book » Children and Exercise

But going on foot has other benefits too. Most people will agree that a ten to twenty minute walk in the air is a great way to clarify your thoughts and put your problems into perspective. One aspect of walking that is under-appreciated is how much it can enhance your creativity. “Studies have shown that spending as little as an hour a week in a natural area can have a positive influence on creativity” says James A. Swan, PhD, author of Nature as Teacher and Healer. New ideas, thoughts and emotions often surface during a walk. Be sure to write these down immediately after your walk, or perhaps keep a small Dictaphone on you to record such thoughts. Walking gets you away from the crowds. Studies have shown that 80% of people stay within 300 yards of their vehicle, so by going that extra distance you will quickly get into quieter, less disturbed areas.

Many people enjoy listening to music while walking. Personally I do not like being divorced from my natural surroundings. I find that a better use of walking is to increase one’s sensual awareness, particularly if you are in a natural setting. Use all your senses to gain a greater appreciation of your environs. Learn to read the countryside with your eyes – the broader canvas painted by  glaciers and erosion, the impact of humans and especially older traces thereof;  the presence of old habitations, field walls and drains, quarries, gravel pits, decaying fence posts, second growth forest. Watch for animal tracks and signs, listen and try  to identify bird song, the drumming of woodpeckers, the rustle of creatures rummaging in the undergrowth, the sighing of wind through the trees, the first flowers and buds to appear, shapes and patterns in the clouds. Feel the shape and texture of bark, flowers and leaves (but learn to identify and avoid poison ivy).

Smell the aroma of freshly mown grass, the varying scent of new flowers, the rich scent of different fungi, decaying wood and leaf mould, the warm air from the south, and the cold, crisp air from the north.

A walk is a great way to share valuable time with family, friends and colleagues. Rather than always going out on your own, ask someone to join you. Next time you have a meeting why not take it outdoors? You may well find that the fresh air will help you ‘think outside the box’ and inspire greater creativity.

Walking and hiking is an easy way to meet some wonderful people, perhaps even your next partner, and many clubs offer hikes especially for singles, dog owners and others. For those seeking to blend a physical challenge with fun, orienteering is the ideal  participation sport for young and old. Called a “thinking sport”, it involves a combination of map reading and decision-making skills. There are levels to suit all ages and skills, in addition to enjoying a great workout.

Walking vacations are becoming an increasingly popular mode of exploration. Rambling through the countryside gets one closer to its heart than any other mode of travel. Close your eyes awhile and imagine the scent of wild rosemary and sage assailing your nostrils as you brush past these herbs on a trail in France, or the coolness of a mossy glade in an Irish oak wood. Birds and other wildlife flit around you, while all the while you are absorbing information imparted by your guide on the local history and culture. Hiking uphill to a castle or a town gives you a greater appreciation for what life might have been like there during the mediaeval period, or why that situation was chosen in the first place. And your reward? Arriving at a shady taverna for lunch, ordering a cool drink, then sitting and perusing the menu of fresh, locally produced foods. There are few better experiences.

Such small group travel experiences particularly suit single travelers. It is a safe environment, sharing experiences with others, and having the advantages of a knowledgeable local guide. From a good guide, someone inspiring and entertaining, you will learn infinitely more than from any number of guide books, get introduced to locals, and have your personal interests attended to.

8 Mistakes I Made While Trying to Lose Weight 17 October 2008

I went on my first diet around five years ago. Over the past four and a half years my weight went up and down as I tried every diet and exercise program under the sun. Nothing seemed to work for me. Until six months ago I enrolled in a weight workshop which taught me that I need to change the way I look at food. It was then that I realized that I had made many mistakes in my quest to lose weight.

In this article I’m going to share with you eight  mistakes I made on my quest to lose weight. I hope by sharing my experiences with others throughout the world via the internet I might be able to help people avoid the mistakes I made. So, here are the eight mistakes I made while trying to lose weight.

Most people trying to lose weight believe simply eating less and skipping meals helps shed that fat. And breakfast is a real easy meal to skip. This is one of the biggest mistakes you can make when on a weight loss diet. If you leave the house in the morning on an empty stomach you’re much more tempted to eat more at morning tea and lunch times. And, calories you eat at breakfast time are easily burnt throughout the day.

2. I would eat one day and not the next

I would literally eat about 2000+ calories one day, feel guilty, and end up eating about 700 calories the following day. If you “starve” yourself throughout the day you’re much more likely to eat more in the evenings, which is not going to help you lose weight. You should consume most of your calories in the morning.

When I went shopping I always looked for the foods marked diet, low-fat, healthy etc. This is a good practice to get into, but I was buying these foods for the wrong reason. I bought these foods because in my mind it meant I could more. I would totally disregard portion size. If you eat diet foods in large portions you’re not doing yourself any favors.

4. I thought I’d always be fat

This is mindset that you must break if you want to lose some serious weight. Sometimes it feels like you’re doing the right things and not making any progress, this is totally natural. You need to focus on being happy and healthy and achieving your goals. Try not to get caught up in “the big picture”.

5. I started eating salads as main meals

Eating salad is a good way of keeping your calorie intake down right? Yes, meal of salad has much less calories that a pizza but does it have the satisfaction? When you eat you mind needs to get some satisfaction from what you have just eaten. I found that when I ate salads for meals a few hours later I was back I the cupboard looking for more food. I learnt that I was better off eating a balanced meal with slightly more calories than simply eating a salad and snacking afterwards.

6. I started my new diets on Mondays

When I found a new diet that I decided I was going to try I always started it on a Monday. This meant I would eat all weekend like I was never going to eat again. Doing this I was just setting myself up for failure.

7. I was to embarrassed to go to the gym

Taking the plunge and joining a gym was one of the hardest things I ever did. I was always worried that people in the gym would be staring at me and talking about me. I really thought I was too fat to join. My advice is to join a gym! You’ll be glad you did. I look forward to going to the gym now.

8. I set my goals too high

Setting long term goals is great, but these goals always seem to far off. You need to set smaller, more reachable goals that you can regularly meet to keep your motivation high. Set yourself weekly, monthly and three monthly goals. Once you meet one short term goal set a new one for next week.

So there you have it, those are the mistakes I made. I now look at weight loss from a totally different perspective and it has paid off. I now help others with weight loss and keeping healthy.

7 Tips to Help Your Kid Develop a Positive Self-Image 16 October 2008

Try these 7 tips to foster optimism and resilience in your overweight child:

1) Believe in your Children.  Assure your children that you are on their side and that you expect then to be the best person that they can be, although you don’t expect them to be the best at anything.  No one is perfect.

2) Find other adults who believe in your children.  Teachers, aunts, uncles, neighbors and friends can help you make a positive difference for you overweight child.  Other adults that can see beyond the weight and also believe in your child can help your child take control of their lives.

3) Encourage your children to stay interested in activities.  Let them know that their interests are valuable and deserve to be developed, whatever it is.

4) Celebrate your children’s winning experiences and help them to accept defeats graciously.    Let your child know that you appreciate their efforts and positive attitude win or lose.  Positive attitude and effort is for more important than victory.

5) Encourage upbeat conversations about the future.  Assume they are going to college and thinking about good careers.  Let your child know that you believe they are capable.

6) Be a role model for perseverance.  Be sure your children hear you say that some tasks are difficult, but that you are not a quitter.

7) Facilitate family fun and laughter.  A family that can joke, laugh, and lighten up their day’s with humor can help to prevent negativity and tension.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall… 10 October 2008

Body image is a topic that usually makes one think of teenaged girls starving themselves thin.  But most people, no matter how old or young, have a feeling or image of the way their body should look.  This image is composed of the actual view in the mirror combined with life experience, such as the image of our own younger/fitter/slimmer body, and the expectations of the way their body “should” look.  This “should” comes from media images, parental influences, peers, past experiences or who knows what….

In my many years of fitness training I have noticed one common pattern among new fitness participants. Most newbies start a fitness program to “get healthy and fit” and to change a particular body part.  Note the operative phrase here is particular body part.  For example, it’s common for men to want to lose the fat roll around the mid section (“love handles”) and for women want to trim the hips.

Have you ever really observed other people in your gym?  If you do, you will notice that there are a lot of men doing upper body and arm work and a lot of women doing lower body work.  I recently prescribed outer and inner thigh (abductor/adductor) work to a client who was an experienced body builder. Yet he had never trained these muscles specifically because he felt these exercises “were for women”!

Yes, we’ve all heard for years that it’s impossible to “spot reduce” by exercising the body part, but emotionally this idea is hard to own…especially for newbies. I can’t tell you how many times I have given a person a weight training and aerobics style fitness program which is enthusiastically started but at the 1 month follow up it’s revealed that the exerciser has thrown out exercises that did not target the imagined problem area and replaced them with extra sets of the exercises that did.

Now, take that same newbie, get him or her working out regularly and systematically for about 6 months and you get the beginnings of real body transformation.  What does this mean?  It means different things to different people, but to me it means BALANCE…and balance is beautiful.  A body system that is in balance moves better, stands straighter (this means looking better in your clothes), can be trusted to perform physical activities longer and better and is less likely to sustain injury.  Yes, the person’s perceived “problem areas” change, but so do all the non-problem areas.

The most interesting thing that I’ve noticed is that with this body change, the newbie now truly enthusiastic about his or her changed body also has redefined goals and expectations of what it means to transform their body…and what a healthy body should look like. It’s very common to hear women clients say that they had no idea that their arms could be so attractive and shapely and for men to comment that they like having legs that aren’t so “skinny”.  These very same women started out avoiding arm work because they only were thinking about slimmer hips.

After six months or so when new trainees start to see real differences, they talk about how they feel a real sense of accomplishment (it is hard work to get there no doubt about it!).  They begin to formulate new fitness goals which are surprisingly different than the ones they started with. These folks have not only begun to transform their bodies, they have transformed their thinking. Their perception of their body, or body image, has become very different.

They KNOW they look good and feel good!

Gymnastics Provides A Great Fitness Option For Kids 29 September 2008

Studies show that today’s youngsters are a very inactive generation, and that inactivity and poor dietary habits have contributed to their lack of fitness. Statistics indicate that one in three kids is overweight or at risk of becoming overweight today, a percentage that has more than tripled in the last 30 years.

To help get kids off the couch and into better shape this summer, USA Gymnastics and Tyson Foods have joined forces to create a fitness initiative designed to encourage physical fitness through fun activities that emphasize four fundamentals of fitness: cardiovascular exercise, strength training, flexibility and nutrition.

To underscore this initiative’s importance, USA Gymnastics has expanded its annual National Gymnastics Day from focusing just on gymnastics to “A Celebration of Fitness.” Gym clubs and their members across the country use National Gymnastics Day in August as a way to give back to their communities by raising funds for the Children’s Miracle Network. The Tyson Fitness Challenge is the main vehicle for raising funds. Participants may gather pledges for specified activities that range from the traditional cartwheels and backflips to fitness-related skills or elements.

Each of the four fitness fundamentals in the Tyson Fitness Challenge helps kids get physically fit through participation in fun activities geared toward their level and age.

- Cardiovascular conditioning, which is important for the heart and lungs

- Strength training, which builds strong, healthy muscles

- Flexibility exercises, which help muscles move through a normal range of motion

- Nutrition, because a well-balanced diet is an important key to any fitness effort. Protein, like that found in Tyson chicken, beef and pork products, is an important part of any well-balanced diet because it delivers the necessary nutrition for strength and endurance.

In addition to focusing on four fundamentals of fitness, each participant will learn how to set fitness goals (e.g., being able to do five more sit-ups, three more push-ups, etc.) that may be achieved through the Tyson Fitness Challenge and continued as a part of his/her weekly routine.

“The basics of gymnastics are a solid foundation for building fitness at any level,” said Bela Karolyi, the legendary gymnastics coach who is a longtime proponent of the importance of fitness. “I have always stressed that flexibility, strength and cardiovascular exercise are important components to being fit or a good athlete, along with eating a well-balanced diet. The Tyson Fitness Challenge is designed to help young people learn how to exercise properly and eat right.”

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