Tag Archive | Get Active

Walking: In Search of Inspiration (and Free Books)

By: Emily Schnipper, Zamzee Operations + Customer Support 

In November’s newsletter, I wrote about some of the ways I’ve made my “Walks to Nowhere” more interesting.  Like a lot of suburban people, I don’t have much to walk to, but no way am I going to miss out on the benefits of walking.  As I’ve found, walking can increase your appreciation of the world around you and even boost your creativity.  (Not to mention passing many Zamzee Challengez.)

Walking with a camera is my favorite.  I’ve given myself a mission to capture the strange and beautiful things lurking in a town that I always thought was boring.  Through walking and photographing, my perspective has shifted.  I didn’t even realize until I started writing this, but I can’t honestly say that my town is boring anymore.  (Maybe I’ve also learned that boredom isn’t always such a bad thing, but that’s another story.)  My favorite discovery, without a doubt, has been the phenomenon of Little Free Libraries.  All my friends and family know my obsession with these cute, tiny houses filled with free books for kids and adults.  Check out the map on their website here.  There may be a LFL in walking distance from you.

Photo Credit: Emily Schnipper

Photo Credit: Emily Schnipper

I’ve also found that walking is one of the best ways to get ideas or break through a creative block.  If you’re struggling with homework or work-work, go on a walk if you can.  Your renewed focus will be worth the time it takes.  Something about the rhythm of walking makes it especially good for coming up with songs or poems.  Walking is something you can do in your own time, at your own pace.  When life is filled with obligations, that opportunity can be hard to find.  In an article for the The New York Times, Kate Murphy writes about people who’ve decided to walk across the US.  She calls this epic walk a spiritual quest and a way to search for meaning in life.  As people over the centuries have found, walking can speak to some deep part of ourselves that goes beyond the benefits of exercise.

EmilyTree

Even if you’re taking a short home/work break, you can tap into that tradition of walking as a way to find inspiration  A recent study at Stanford showed that while walking didn’t help people find one right answer, it did help them brainstorm more creative ideas.  Other studies have found that walking can reduce stress and anxiety, insomnia and depression.  It can improve memory (vocabulary words, anyone?), self-esteem, and energy levels. Unlike many other physical activities (weight-lifting, surfing, toe-wrestling), you probably already know how to walk safely, and have all the equipment you need.  So the next time you’re struggling with a problem in your life, see if walking might give you a bit of clarity.  I’ll see you on the sidewalks!

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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.

10 Lessons on How to Stay Active as a Family

If your New Year’s resolution is to get your family active, take a step back before you attempt to go 100 mph forward and read the 10 most important things we learned in 2012 about moving as a family.

1.  Physical activity is more important than weight loss. Being active improves both your physical and mental health, and how your body feels is more important than how your body looks. Especially when you’re a kid.

2.  Finishing first is not the most important part of running a race. So when your video-game-loving kindergartner wants to run a one-mile race, make sure you believe in him. He’s going to finish.

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3.  Moving doesn’t have to be serious. You can get a healthy dose of exercise while having fun playing games like ant hospital and toilet tag. Yep, those are real games. Seriously. Continue reading

How to Play Gaga Ball (and Other Games We Never Played as Kids)

By Heather from RookieMoms.com

My son is an active grade-schooler and embraces each new P.E. game to which he is exposed with gusto. Nearly every day, he tells me about another “sport” that I’ve never heard of; gaga ball, ant hospital, and toilet tag are a few that had me puzzled. I suspected he was just making these names up.

When I was a kid, we played games like freeze tag and kickball. Need more cooperation? What about red rover or tug-of-war? While I know that these games still exist, there are a bunch of new games that are played on the school yards today. So if any of you parents are, like me, from the dark ages of last century and need a little primer, I’ve got a cheat sheet for you.

Gaga ball is like fast-paced dodge ball played in a mini-arena, called a pit. Players can hit the ball but not catch or throw. Originally played in Isreal and popularized in the US by Jewish daycamps, here is a review of the rules thanks to Wikipedia: Continue reading

Getting Your Kids Active: How My Son Became a Football Fanatic

By Whitney from RookieMoms.com

Today my son Julian is a football fanatic, memorizing player statistics, playing catch with his dad in the backyard, and dreaming of becoming the fastest sprinter in his school. But it wasn’t always this way. Last year Julian didn’t like sports, let alone want to play them himself, or care about catching such things as the touchdown pass. Last summer Heather’s son Holden went to sports camp, and I told Julian that there are camps where you do eight sports each day, knowing pretty well he’d hate that idea. He looked at me with amazement and disgust.

At that time, he spent his recesses sitting on the bench with his female best friend discussing the detailed characteristics of their Webkinz, a set of plush animals with online lives. They enjoyed this fun virtual world they were imagining together, and I had no problem with it. He attended science camp all summer and avoided kick ball games by hanging out with the counselors, making friendship bracelets.

I’m not really a sports person myself, but I worried that he was missing out on important social skills like the ability to join group games or play catch. I didn’t have to worry for long. Last fall, everything changed. Continue reading

7 Ways to Keep Kids Moving During the School Year

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Photo courtesy of ben.chaney’s Flickr steam (http://ow.ly/dy8Jc)

School is back in session, which means kids are back in their desks. But with all that learning comes a whole lot of sitting. How can we ensure kids make physical activity a part of daily life when they spend most of the day sitting at school? Here’s a few tips to make sure the school year is just as active as the summer.

1.    Get to school 15 minutes early and leave 15 minutes late

Making time for the kids to climb on the jungle gym or swing on the monkey bars before they sit down for class has big payoffs. Exercise improves the brain’s chemical growth factors, helping us learn. Did you know researchers found that students score higher on tests after 10 minutes of physical activity? Taking the time to let the kids play before they sit and concentrate will actually help them concentrate better. Likewise, letting them blow off some steam after school by staying at the playground for an extra 15 minutes will help them focus on their homework once they get home – and help your afternoons run smoother.

2.    Bike to school one day each week

There’s no reason why Bike to Work/School Day has to happen only once per year. Try getting in the habit of biking to school every Friday. Make it a routine and it’ll be easier to stick with it. It’s not only good exercise for the kids, it’s good exercise for you! Instead of driving back and forth to school in traffic each morning and afternoon, you’ll spend that time getting in your exercise for the day so that you can skip the gym later. Bonus points for spending fun, healthy quality time with the kids! 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