From the desk of PHA staff member Lauren Pesola:
The Summer Olympics are underway and the United States has taken the lead so far! Swim phenomenon Michael Phelps has captured his 22nd gold medal (and counting!) since he started competing in the Olympics back in 2004.
Whether watching the Olympics in the stands in Rio or just from the television, we all feel a sense of pride for how amazing the athletes representing the United States are. But every single athlete participating is an inspiration to kids everywhere. Whether you child participates in volleyball, gymnastics, swimming, tennis or another sport, watching the best of the best from all over the world can give them the encouragement to do their very best and reach their goals.
If your child expresses their lack of skill, talk to them about how even the very best athletes such as Serena and Venus Williams can be beaten. This is great dinner discussion when our kids express they can’t be as good as someone else. It’s a great moment for parents to encourage their kids that everyone has a shot at winning. Even the top athletes can have a bad day.
With the end of summer soon upon us and milder temps in the not too distant future, families might want to start doing a family sport together. There’s lots of running tracks around but if that’s not your thing, biking may be more to your liking. Doing it together as a family not only helps build the family bond, it creates memories and allows our kids to see us working hard too.
It’s great to watch the kids running during the summer in preparation for track, for marathons or just for their own pleasure. Exercise provides health benefits for all of us and strengthens our endurance, builds our resolve, gives us a sense of accomplishment and releases endorphins in our brain to give us those feel good moments.
We congratulate all of our Olympians are Paralympians who are in Rio! Whether they win a medal or not, they certainly are the best of the best to have qualified to be part of the Olympic experience!
PHA and the American College of Sports Medicine recommend that children and adolescents strive to obtain at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day. But what type of physical activity? For children, important components of physical activity include aerobic exercise and muscle strengthening exercise. Both of which are important to your child’s overall health and development.
Aerobic exercise, also referred to as cardiovascular or cardiorespiratory exercise, focuses on activities that raise heart rate and use large muscle groups. Children and adolescents should participate in aerobic exercise on a daily basis. Aerobic exercise can include running, jogging biking and swimming.
Muscle strengthening exercise, also referred to as weigh training or resistance training, focuses on activities that develop the muscular system. Children and adolescents should participate in muscle strengthening exercise at least 3 days per week.
Children under 12 years old should utilize their own body weight to develop their musculature. Young children should not use weights to develop musculature, as their bones are still growing. Excess weight can actually damage the growth plates within their bones, potentially stunting growth. Appropriate muscle strengthening exercise for children under 12 can include playing on monkey bars and climbing other playground equipment, performing push-ups and sit-ups, and performing exercises with resistance band, rather than weights.
Teenagers can utilize weights, in addition to their own body weight to develop their musculature. However, teens should still focus on increasing their endurance rather than strength. This is accomplished by increasing the number of repetitions of an exercise performed. Teens should begin by trying to perform a given exercise eight to fifteen times. Once the teen has successfully completed an exercise fifteen times, WITHOUT feeling fatigued they can attempt to complete another set of the given exercise. This approach will allow your teen to develop both endurance and strength, without undue strain or injury.
Remember, when participating in any type of exercise, it’s important to wear proper athletic clothing and tennis shoes to optimize safety. When utilizing weight-strengthening equipment, remove jewelry to prevent it from getting caught on equipment and causing an accident. The most important reminder though, is to always use proper form when exercising such as using your legs to lift, not your back and when necessary a spotter to prevent accidents and injury. For additional resources, instructional books and DVDs visit your local library!