Keep Your Kids Active During March Break
I have three kids between the ages of nine and 13 starting March Break very soon. Most of their physical activity is completed during school recess, walking to and from school and the occasional playtime outdoors. They are a little shy of the recommended 60 minutes of daily vigorous activity and I am afraid they will just want to sit around and vegetate in front of the television during their holidays. What do you suggest I do to keep them active during the March break?
In the sports world, I often hold weekly training camps in the off-season to ensure the athletes are in shape for the competitive season. I am always astonished by the amount of physical improvements that can be achieved in a week of focused training. For kids not involved in team sports or camps, I often recommend parents use March Break as a "training camp" for improved health and fitness. I call it "March Madness." The goal is to get your kids motivated about leading a healthy lifestyle -- one that includes at least 60 minutes of daily vigorous activity. Some parents take it a step further and implement healthy eating as well. By doing all the activities together as a family, you not only provide a great example to your kids, but it also becomes a great bonding experience.
Here's an example of what I'd suggest to parents for a week-long "training camp."
Training Schedule for the Week
The following is an example of activities that are fun, do not require a lot of specific skills and are also cost-conscious.
Monday: Hiking for 60 minutes. Hiking challenges your cardiovascular system and builds strength and endurance in your legs.
Tuesday: Rock climbing for 60 minutes. Inexperienced rock climbers typically use too much upper body effort and not enough legs. Although you may not be a great rock climber, this poor technique is excellent for building upper body and core strength, endurance and flexibility.
Wednesday: Snowshoeing for 60 minutes. This activity is a lot harder than it looks! When the snow is deep, you are forced to lift your knees high against the resistance of the snow. Be careful, as your heart rate will rise fairly high.
Thursday: Skiing for a day. Beginners to advanced skiers will strengthen their leg muscles as they shift and turn their body weight on every run they complete. Managing five to 10 runs in a day is the equivalent of (if not more) five to 10 sets of squats or leg presses in the gym.
Friday: Tubing for a day. It's always smart to end the week on a high note with a fun activity. Kids love tubing or tobogganing. If you want to make it a workout, take turns pulling the toboggan or sled up the hill. This is a lot harder than it sounds, especially if your little ones ask you to pull them up the hill!
All of the above activities can be broken down with breaks for lunch or snacks. This needs to be a positive experience in order to keep your kids motivated to continue on the path of healthy living.
Have your own ideas for keeping kids fit and active during the March Break? Feel free to share them in the comments below!
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.