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Back to School: Physical Education Safety Insights

By Shana Brenner

Where has the time gone? Summer is over, and now students and teachers are well into another school year. While for many, the focus this year will be on achieving academic success, the importance of physical education can’t afford to be overlooked. Obesity rates for children and teens have more than doubled over the past 30 years, and in part, one might argue it’s because most schools aren’t giving their kids enough time for P.E.

Teachers and parents alike need to make a joint effort to ensure students are able to get enough exercise on a daily basis, and in large part, this relies on providing a safe, enjoyable environment in P.E. class. Together, teachers, staff and parents can all do their part to help kids safely participate in physical education.060410_fitnessschools_hmed_1p.grid-6x2

Here are some key elements to achieving safety in P.E. class:

  • First-aid kits must be readily available: No one likes to think about it, but an injury or medical emergency can occur at any moment during P.E. class. Teachers need to be prepared to respond and provide necessary care for students in an instant. A fully stocked first-aid kit must be easily accessible in the gym and anywhere else that physical education activities take place. You can easily purchase first-aid kits designed for schools online. First-aid kits should be inventoried regularly and restocked accordingly.
  • Routine gym floor maintenance is essential: Every day, gym floors attract dust, dirt, sweat and all sorts of debris. This can make the floor slick and unsafe for physical activities. If the gym floor isn’t properly cleaned and maintained by the school, students in P.E. class could easily slip and fall, twist an ankle or get injured in any number of other ways. Think we’re overstating the importance of gym maintenance? What about the story of Rene Rodriguez, a man who recently suffered a serious slip-and-fall injury at an L.A. Fitness due to a lack of proper cleaning by the gym’s staff. Gym floor maintenance needs to be an ongoing priority of the school’s maintenance staff. Floors need to be dust-mopped on a daily basis, deep-cleaned weekly and covered when being used for non-sporting activities. Entrance mats also should be placed at every doorway to your gym to prevent more dirt and debris from being tracked inside your facilities. Routine gym floor maintenance can go a long way toward preventing injuries in P.E. class.
  • Safety padding along walls helps prevent injuries: Many activities in physical education involve running around at high speeds. Of course, sometimes, this speed can lead to some intense collisions. In some cases, those collisions can be between a student and the wall. That’s why it’s a good idea for school gymnasiums to have safety padding along the walls. This padding will help protect students when the action spills off the gym floor and into the wall, cushioning the impact and reducing the risk of injury. When choosing indoor wall padding, make sure you study the ASTM recommended specifications so you get a product that truly meets the best safety standards.
  • All equipment being used should be inspected daily: In order to provide students with the safest possible environment, it’s the teacher’s responsibility to perform a pre-activity inspection of all equipment to be used for the class period. Equipment must be verified to be in proper working order, and any hazards should be identified, removed and corrected immediately.
  • Equipment should be stored away properly when not in use: Any equipment that isn’t currently being used in physical education needs to be immediately stored away in a safe and neat manner. Equipment left around the gym can pose a serious injury hazard for students participating in physical activities.
  • Students need proper shoes and clothing for P.E. class: Proper footwear is absolutely essential for participating in P.E. class. It’s the parents’ responsibility to make sure their children have comfortable, properly fitting tennis shoes that provide the foot support needed to safely engage in exercise and activities. Students should not be allowed to participate in P.E. activities wearing flip-flops, sandals, dress shoes, Crocs, boots, skate shoes or other non-athletic footwear, as this could lead to injury and also damage the gym floor. Additionally, students need to have comfortable, weather-appropriate clothing for physical activity. Parents can do their part by helping to make certain their kids bring their shoes and clothes for P.E. class every day.
  • Pre-existing student health issues should be disclosed: If a child has any sort of pre-existing medical conditions or injuries, the parents need to let the school know so that the child isn’t asked to participate in any physical activities that may be unsafe given his or her condition. This includes heart conditions, allergies, asthma and respiratory issues, diabetes, etc. Schools should have a process in place for communicating this medical information to teachers at the beginning of the school year and throughout the year as required. P.E. teachers need to always be aware of their students’ health and well-being, and when necessary, activities should be adjusted to accommodate their special needs.

Safety in Physical Education: Everyone Plays a Role

No single party is entirely responsible for the safety of a student in P.E. class. Everyone has a role to play, from the teachers to the maintenance staff to the parents and the students themselves. When everyone does their part, students are able to enjoy all of the benefits that physical education has to offer.

Shana Brenner is the Marketing Director of CoverSports, an American manufacturer of gym floor covers and other athletic equipment with roots tracing back to 1874.

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Watching the World Series with the Kids

Having the San Francisco Giants play in the World Series is a special opportunity to teach kids about baseball, and help instill a lifelong love for being active. After all, it’s not every year that your hometown baseball team makes it to the World Series! So how can we use the World Series to get kids moving?

Teaching kids lifelong habits of physical activity doesn’t always have to start with them playing sports themselves. Just ask Whitney from Rookie Moms: her son Julian didn’t like sports until he started playing Fantasy Football. Now he’s a full-fledged football fanatic! As Whitney says, “You never know which aspect of an activity will be the one that harnesses a child’s enthusiasm.”

Make a special occasion out of watching the game: let the kids invite a few friends over and serve up some healthy snacks. Teach the kids the names and numbers of the star players, because watching a game is more fun if you know the players. There’s nothing more exciting than recognizing Buster Posey when he steps up to bat, and cheering when he hits a home run!

We asked David Kim, our IT Manager and resident Giants expert, which players to watch from each team. Here’s his advice: Continue reading

4 “How To Dance” Tutorials: Fun ideas to get moving indoors

There are some days we’d rather stay inside, but hanging out at home doesn’t mean you have to stop moving. An afternoon indoors is the perfect opportunity to learn some sweet dance moves – and break out a sweat while you’re at it. Pull up YouTube, start a challenge (try the Paparazzi Dash or Breakdance Battle), and get your groove on.

Here are a few of our favorite “how to dance” videos.

1. How to do the dance steps to “What Makes you Beautiful” by One Direction

One Direction is taking the world by storm. If you can score tickets to a 1D show, you’ll need to come prepared with the right dance moves.

Have ‘em perfect and ready to dance backup on stage? Try keeping up with the boys themselves.

2. How to do the dance steps to the “Hoedown Throwdown” from Hannah Montana (Miley Cyrus)

We all know coordinating the perfect line dance ain’t easy. These girls shows us how it’s done in a super simple, step-by-step tutorial. Continue reading

5 Indoor Games for when it’s Hot, Hot, Hot!

By Heather from RookieMoms.com

Being active in the summertime on those sweltering days can be a challenge. Sometimes all you want to do is sneak into an air-conditioned movie theater and slurp sodas while a blockbuster movie does the work for you.

Here are a few enjoyable ways to keep your body moving while you hide from the heat.

Hula Hoop the Heat! (Image sourced from the Independent.)

Hula Hoop

Grab your hoop, clear some space, and get twirling. For novice hoopers, clip your zamzee to your waistband and try to keep the hoop spinning around your middle.

If that gets too easy, try some maneuvers around your arms, legs or neck. Or you can add more hoops to your middle. All of these motions are good exercise

Dance-off!

Continue reading