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Simply Fit, by Cindy Haskin-Popp, will help you make physical activity a part of everyday life. The health benefits of regular exercise and overall daily physical activity will be discussed. Fun, practical and easy-to-follow tips on an exercise program will be shared, as will the most current research. Fitness tips for families and seniors, on fitness centers and on buying proper and affordable equipment will be regularly given. 

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Family Fun Weekend "Workouts"

     Make family time active time this weekend.  Incorporating exercise into a healthy family lifestyle does not require you to possess certain athletic skills and abilities.  Simple, good old-fashioned schoolyard games can promote balance, agility, bone strength, muscular endurance, and muscular strength in both you and your children.  Some games can even elevate your heart rate enough to obtain cardiovascular benefits.  A goal of family physical activity time is to make it enjoyable so that your child develops positive feelings toward exercise.  So go ahead and get in touch with your inner child this weekend and relive some of these childhood games with your children.

Follow the Leader
Fitness benefits:  has potential to develop balance, agility, power, bone strength, muscular endurance and strength, and the cardiovascular system based on exercise chosen by the leader
How to play:  Players take turns leading others through a series of exercises (jumping, skipping, marching, lunges, running, arm circles, etc.).

Fitness benefits:  promotes balance and agility;  strengthens bones and muscles of the lower body
Supplies needed:  chalk if playing outdoors, painter's tape if playing indoors; small stone 
Set-up:  Start by making the hopscotch court either on a sidewalk or basement floor.  The court has eight squares and one semi-circle.  The first two squares are single squares with the second square centered above the first.  The third and fourth squares are side-by-side centered above the second square.  The fifth square is single and is centered above the third and fourth squares.  The sixth and seventh squares are side-by-side and centered about the fifth square.  The eighth square is single and centered above the sixth and seventh squares.  The semi-circle goes on top of the eighth square.  Label the squares 1 - 8 starting with the first box outlined.
How to play:  The first player tosses the stone into square one.  If the stone falls outside of the square then the player loses his turn.  If the stone falls within the lines of the box, the player proceeds through the course hopping on one foot for the single squares and a straddle position for the side-by-side squares.  The player does not hop in the square with the stone.  The object is to make it through the course and back without hopping on a line or losing balance.  On the way back, the player picks up the stone.  If the player completes the course then he tosses the stone into the next numbered box.  The process is repeated until the player either completes every square or throws the stone outside the box, hops on a line or loses his balance.  If a player loses a turn, he starts his next turn where he left off.  The winner is the first person who completes a full course (hops through all eight squares).

Musical Chairs
Fitness benefits:  promotes balance and agility; develops reflexes and reaction time, and can elevate heart rate to beneficial levels
Supplies needed:  chairs and a music player
Set-up:  Chairs are lined up in a row.  Use one less chair than the number of players.  
How to play:  One person plays the music while the other players walk around the row of chairs.  When the person in charge of the music turns it off, players must find a chair to sit in.  The player left standing is out and a chair is removed.  This pattern is repeated until only one player claims the last remaining chair.

     Exercise doesn't have to be of the traditional type to get benefits.  Participating in childhood games is a fun way to "sneak" physical activity into your child's life.  Other games to consider include four square, tag, and duck, duck, goose.  Be creative and keep an open mind.  If you make physical activity enjoyable for your child now then he/she will be more likely to pursue an active lifestyle as an adult.
Do you and your family have a favorite way to exercise together?  I would like to hear about it.  Please post a comment below.

Note:  Before beginning an exercise program or increasing the intensity level of a current routine, a physician's approval should be obtained, especially for older adults and those at risk for or who currently have chronic health conditions.

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