Keeping kids active during the winter

It’s no secret that winter is a stressful time. Between holiday plans, family visits, and school vacations, it can be difficult to make sure your kids stay active without the structure of physical education classes or school sports. Just because class is cancelled and there is snow on the ground doesn’t mean your kids have to stay at home all day playing video games. There are many ways to stay active and have fun during the winter months.

1)     Give them a new sport to try. To keep kids healthy and fit, help them prepare for spring tryouts, or just give them something new to get excited about, why not sign them up for baseball or softball lessons? Extra Innings, a national baseball and softball training facility, has several locations in the greater Boston metro area that have full indoor training centers for year-round practice. Kids of all ages can sign up for lessons, rent batting cages, or register for conditioning clinics to hone their skills. No baseball experience? No problem! Extra Innings welcomes all athletes from total newcomers to seasoned players. Who knows – your son or daughter might just discover his or her new favorite sport. With spring tryouts just around the corner, winter is the perfect time to get started.

2)     Kids not into baseball? There are plenty of other options out there. Indoor soccer is a popular cold-weather activity, and like baseball, winter training lends itself well to spring tryouts. Ice hockey – indoors or out – is another popular winter sport. And basketball is another idea – since the pro season just got started, kids will be motivated to play and follow the lead of their favorite athletes.

3)     Let your kid be independent. If your son or daughter prefers individual sports, there are many to choose from. He or she can sign up for a martial arts class, which has the added benefit of improving self-confidence and focus. Or your kid can hop in the (indoor) pool, and take swimming lessons or just do some laps. Other possibilities include dance lessons, gymnastics, and fencing. All of these sports build confidence and athletic skills while giving kids a fun and invigorating goal to work toward while school’s out.

4)     Take them to the gym. Many fitness centers have special programs designed just for kids – in addition to getting some good activity in, they’ll be able to meet other kids and make new friends. The result? Happier, healthier kids and more “me time” for Mom.

5)     Embrace the cold. Lace up your ice skates or skis and get moving. Why not get the whole family involved? Once the snow starts to settle, pick a day to bundle up and head to a local park or skating rink. Sledding, skating, skiing, and snowboarding are fun for the whole family, and spending some time together is what the holidays are all about, after all.

6)     Snowed in? Even if you can’t leave the house, your kids can still stay active. Many video game consoles now offer games designed to get kids moving. Whether you have a Wii, an Xbox, or a Playstation, there are dozens of games to fit every console – and every personality.

By Robert Nash, GalTime Ambassador, Boston

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Workout Move of the Week

This week we are featuring an article about why working out in the water is beneficial.

Water workouts offer great aerobic benefits with less wear and tear

A study presented yesterday at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress found that people who used an immersible ergo cycle – basically an exercise bike in a pool – had just about the equivalent workout to using a typical stationary bike.

“If you can’t train on land, you can train in the water and have the same benefits in terms of improving aerobic fitness,” says Dr. Martin Juneau, director of prevention at the Montreal Heart Institute.

He says people might assume that exercising in the water can’t be as valuable as exercising on land. Because of the resistance of the water when you move, it doesn’t seem like you can work as hard. This new study indicates otherwise.

Healthy participants did exercise tests on both the land and water cycling machines (with water up to chest level). They increased their intensity minute by minute until exhaustion.

Dr. Juneau reports that the maximal oxygen consumption – which tells you whether it was a good workout – was almost the same using both types of cycles.

His study colleague Dr. Mathieu Gayda, a clinical exercise physiologist at the Montreal Heart Institute, adds: “Exercise during water immersion may be even more efficient from a cardiorespiratory standpoint.”

Another finding, says Dr. Juneau, is that the heart rate of the participants was a little lower in the water.

Considering the number of people who can find it difficult to exercise on land, the water option is promising, says Dr. Juneau. He says that swimming may be the best exercise of all but not everyone can swim. With the workout benefits, the low stress of moving in the water and the reduced chance of injury, “this is a great alternative,” he says.

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Workout Move of the Week


Core Strengthening Exercise

This is a great exercise to strengthen your core.

You may be in deep water or shallow and make sure you don’t touch the bottom. You should start by standing with your legs together, tuck your knees to your chest and shoot through to the right then the left.  Make sure you’re your shoulders are over your hip to maintain proper body alignment.  You will need a noodle for this exercise

Using a noodle, you will tuck your knees up to your chest, shoot your legs out to the rights, then tuck your knees back to your chest and shoot through to the left.

Core Stability and Postural Alignment

Focus effort on core stabilization
Maintain neutral pelvis
Keep chest lifted

The Difference in Heart Rate Target Zones Between Water Workouts Vs. Gym Workouts

Raising your heart rate during workouts in water is more difficult than raising your heart rate during workouts in the gym because water lowers your body temperature. When your body temperature drops, your heart rate and metabolism also decline. Medical centers such as the University of Maryland Medical Center and the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago estimate the difference as 12 heartbeats per minute.


Heart rate target zones are significant because reaching them improves your fitness. Sedentary people who improve their fitness cut their chances of premature death during the next eight years by more than half, according to “Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program For Reversing Heart Disease.” Very intense exercise isn’t necessary. Walking 30 minutes daily has almost the same impact on longevity as running 40 miles weekly, writes Ornish. There are two caveats. First, exercising at such a low intensity level that your heart rate is below your target zone’s minimum number has no effect on your fitness. Secondly, exercising so intensely that your heart rate is above your target zone’s maximum number increases your risk of heart problems, according to “An Invitation to Health.”

Men’s Target Zones

Heart rate target zones depend on age and gender. The formula is 60 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate minus your age. However, men’s maximum heart rate is 220 heartbeats per minute, while women’s maximum heart rate is 225 heartbeats per minute. Consequently, 35-year-old men need to raise their heart rate to 111 to 157 heartbeats per minute while they’re exercising in gyms. Raising their heart rate to 99 to 145 heartbeats per minute while exercising in swimming pools has the same effect on fitness. Men’s heart rate target zones in heartbeats for minute for gym workouts are 102 to 145 at age 50 and 93 to 132 at age 65. Men’s target zones in water workouts are 90 to 133 at age 50, and 81 to 120 at age 65.

Women’s Target Zones

Women’s heart rate target zones are higher than men’s because their maximum heart rate is five heartbeats per minute higher. Women’s target zones in heartbeats for minute for gym workouts are 114 to 162 at age 35, 105 to 149 at age 50, and 96 to 136 at age 65. Women’s target zones in water workouts are 102 to 150 at age 35, 93 to 137 at age 50, and 84 to 124 at age 65.

Water’s Impact

Gym workouts are better for weight loss than water workouts during and after exercise because water keeps body temperatures lower for up to 18 hours, according to “Choosing the Right Exercise,” a Merck Manual Home Health Handbook report. Lower body temperatures keep heart rates and metabolism lower after exercise. Calories-burned charts show how heart rates affect weight. For example, swimming vigorously for one hour burns 704 calories in 155-pound people, while swimming moderately for one hour burns 281 calories, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services. Your heart rate is 70 to 89 percent of your maximum heart rate when you’re exercising vigorously and 55 to 69 percent of its maximum when you’re exercising moderately.

by Jay Schwartz, Demand Media

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