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Activities to Keep Kids Fit Over the Holidays
I approach the holiday season as an opportunity to spend quality time with my kids by participating in many outdoor activities such as going for a long hike, ice skating, playing road hockey, cross-country skiing or snowboarding.These outdoor activities are an excellent departure from the daily routine and serve the dual purpose of taking care of our kids' health and having fun.
Here are a few tips for keeping your kids active over the holidays.
Choose Sensible Activities and Be Prepared: It would not be advantageous to take a relatively sedentary child and throw them out on the slopes for a fun outing of snowboarding. Either choose a safer activity, or do the necessary preparations. Otherwise, you're asking for an injury.
Prior to engaging in new activities that challenge the entire body, I always recommend ensuring that your body is prepared and able to handle the stresses involved in the activity. For the most part, outdoor activities require you to bend, turn and push your body through many different ranges of motion. These movements require a lot of lower body balance, strength and flexibility. Therefore, it is important to always warm up and start strengthening your muscles.
Always Warm-Up: Make sure you warm up by stretching and doing some simple range-of-motion exercises. Take 3-4 minutes to do the following before hitting the slopes:
1. 10 arm circles in each direction
2. 20-30 jumping jacks
3. Side to side twists by swinging your arms out to the sides as you rotate your upper body
4. 10-15 standing toe touches to stretch the back of your legs
5. Pull your leg back and hold for 20 seconds by grabbing your ankle to stretch the front of your thighs
6. 10 ankle circles in each direction on each ankle
Strengthen Your Muscles: The one exercise I recommend that enhances balance, strength and flexibility is the alternating step lunge. I recommend doing 2-3 sets of this exercise, 3-5 times a week, at least 2-3 weeks prior to your outdoor fun.
Alternating Step-Lunge Technique:
1. Stand with your feet together and hands on your hips
2. Take a long stride forward and lower your body until your front knee is bent at 90 degrees
3. Exhale as you push your body back to the starting position
4. Repeat on the other leg and continue to alternate steps until you have completed 24-30 repetitions
Safety Tip: To protect your knees, make sure your knee does not pass your toe as your front leg bends.
Reggie Reyes is a certified kinesiologist and personal trainer. He is the president and founder of pt4kids a company that creates specialized training programs for kids all ages and fitness levels.