Sunday | November 17, 2019

Benefits and Ways of Keeping Teens Active Over The Winter Break

Winter is generally that time of the year when we all want to stay at home curled up in our beds. In summer, sunlight brightens our day and makes us active but the cold, snowy winter make can make us lazier. Moreover, days are shorter during the winter season, making it all the more difficult for us to step out for physical activity. 

However, just because there is snow on the ground, it does not mean that we have to stop exercising. There are several avenues for staying active during the winter and we as parents should encourage our teens to follow an exercise routine during the winter season to stay fit. For e.g., we could motivate them to participate in holiday themed races or join winter sports teams.

In this article, we will discuss the benefits of exercising for teenagers and also about ways to keep your teens active during the winter season.

 

Physical Activities Increase Energy Levels and Make You Feel Better

Exercising or taking part in physical activities like games and sports regularly is one of the best things teenagers can do for improving their health. Exercising helps you feel more energetic and alert. Physical activities lead to increased release of endorphins in our bodies. This hormone is responsible for making you feel good and refreshed after working out. As a result, physical activities make you feel happier and relaxed.

Prevents Obesity

Regular physical activities help in burning calories, preventing teenage obesity and maintaining a healthy weight. According to the World Health Organization, children and youth aged 5–17 should accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity on a daily basis. For children and teenagers, physical activity would include games, sports, recreation, planned exercise, school and community activities.

Increases Aerobic Capacity

Physical activity creates an increased need for oxygen in our bodies. When we exercise we start breathing heavily due to the increased need for oxygen. Depending on how fit we are, we may notice this need occur earlier or later compared to others. Exercising regularly leads to an increased consumption of oxygen and the capacity of our lungs increases. Over time, regular exercise builds aerobic capacity, delivering more oxygen to our brain and bloodstream, and helps us stay active easily.

Enhances Your Looks

Physical activities and exercising can also make you look good. When we exercise, we burn more calories and as a result, we look more toned than those who don’t. This can be a huge motivational factor for teenagers. Moreover, exercising also makes us sweat and release body toxins making exercise extremely important during winters. Moderate exercise also increases your body’s production of natural antioxidants and helps to protect your skin.  

Improves Sleep

Teenagers are advised to sleep eight to ten hours but with excessive use of technology, there appears to be a high sleep deficit among teens. In fact, a study showed that only 15% of teens reported sleeping 8 1/2 hours on school nights. One of the best ways to overcome sleep deficit is to exercise regularly. When you are active during the day, you typically fall asleep more easily and stay asleep longer. Making physical activities a part of your daily routine can help your teens get a more sound and restful sleep. It not only improves the quality of sleep by increasing the time spent in deep sleep, but also boosts the overall duration of your teen’s sleep.

Reduces Stress And Relieves Anxiety

Regular exercising can help in reducing the stress and anxiety levels of your teens. Just 5 minutes of moderate physical activities can trigger anti-stress responses in our bodies. Regular aerobic exercise is known to decrease overall levels of tension, stabilize mood and improve self-esteem. Teens are often stressed due to academic life, peer pressure, and several other reasons. Here are a few fitness tips from Anxiety and Depression Association of America to help your teens manage stress and stay healthy.

Disease Prevention

Beyond the well-known benefits of obesity prevention and improving bone as well as muscular strength, regular exercising also helps in reducing the risks of a wide range of chronic diseases like diabetics, cardiovascular diseases, bone and joint diseases like osteoporosis and osteoarthritis, breast cancer and colon cancer among several other. It also helps in lowering blood pressure, increasing HDL or good cholesterol.

Improves Muscle and Bone Strength

Both your bones and muscles become stronger when your muscles push and pull against your bones during physical activity. Strength training helps develop muscles while also forcing our muscles to put pressure on our bones, thereby improving our bone strength. You could read more about activities that can strengthen the bones and muscles of teens here.

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, children and teens should participate in bone-strengthening activities at least 3 days a week. Bone strengthening exercises are especially important for teens because they obtain their lifetime peak bone mass in their teenage years.

Examples of muscle-strengthening activities:

  • Sit-ups (curl-ups or crunches)
  • Rope of tree climbing
  • Modified push-ups (with knees on the floor)

Examples of bone-strengthening activities:

  • Running
  • Jumping rope
  • Hopscotch

Having understood the various benefits of physical activities for teenagers, we will now look at various avenues to motivate and keep your teens active during the winter season.

Create A Home Gym For Your Teen

Going out to workout during the winters may be a herculean task considering the various layers of clothing you are required to wear. To make things simpler, you could set up a home gym with some basic inexpensive equipment like resistance bands, dumbbells, and stability balls. You could exercise as a family to motivate your teen to stay fit.

Find An Indoor Pool

Getting drenched during the winters may not sound to be a great idea. But swimming, water aerobics and running laps in water are great forms of physical activities that may seem exciting for your teen rather than boring mundane exercises.

Explore Fun Activities

It’s winter season which is a great time to explore a new set of outdoor activities like skiing, ice skating, snowboarding, ice hockey etc. Encourage your teens to join winter sports teams in your locality and participate in weekly games.

Get Them To Sign Up For Activities At A Local Community Centre

You could get your teens to sign up for basketball, squash, badminton, aerobics or even yoga. Given the numerous options to choose from, you can be sure to find something that would interest your teen.

Motivate Them To Find An Exercise Buddy

We all find exercise boring. But with a great company, we can overcome this boredom. This is why having exercise buddies is a good idea for your teens. They could go out for jogging together or they could visit a mall and walk when it’s too cold outside. Nevertheless, exercise buddies are a great motivational factor.

Set Small Daily Goals Rather Than Weekly Goals

As a parent, set small goals for your teens like jogging, biking or dancing for 30 minutes daily. It is better to set small goals than plan for heavy workouts for a long duration during the weekend. Frequency and consistency benefit our body more than strenuous workouts intermittently. Give them rewards like a movie night, dining out with friends etc., when they reach their goals.

Final Thoughts

While most of us are already aware of the importance of physical activities, we may still shy away from exercising, given the cold weather. It would be your duty as parents to foster the importance of regular physical activities to teens irrespective of the seasons.

For teens, winter sports and games may seem more exciting than exercising; therefore, we should motivate them to partake in neighborhood winter sports teams.

December 24th, 2018

Posted In: Athletics, Community, Education, Nutrition, Parenting, Technology, Uncategorised

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Sports: Are you Pushing Your Teenager too Much or too Little?

In today’s competitive environment, you want to make sure your kids keep up with the demanding academic schedule while pursuing sports among other extracurricular activities.

However, many parents find it really difficult to decide whether they’re being too harsh or too lenient in their overall approach.

[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Sports can teach your kids about discipline, unity, perseverance, and value of teamwork[/pullquote]

When it comes to sports, there are compelling benefits for your kids. Sports can teach your kids about discipline, unity, perseverance, and value of teamwork, all of which enable them to develop into a successful individual in future.

Before talking about the potential dangers of pushing too hard, it’s important to remember the benefits sports offer to your kids.

 

​​Benefits of Your Teens Playing in Team Sports?

  • According to a survey, teens pursuing sports are a lot less likely to use drugs, smokes, have sex, carry weapons, and have unhealthy eating habits.
  • Research shows teens participating in sports are happier than kids who don’t pursue sports. While sports-oriented boys in the middle school were five times more likely to describe their health as fair/poor, the girls were 30 times more likely.
  • When your teens participate in team sports, they not only learn about the team spirit, stay motivated to work towards a common goal. When they stay in a team, the value of group effort is reinforced every day.
  • Learning to socialize with students from different walks of life during the middle school can be a challenging phase for any teenager. Team sports offer an opportunity to get along with different groups and nurture a sense of belonging.
  • Team sports teach your teenagers the value of cooperation, discipline, commitment, practice and, determination. The value of hard work and achievement is harder to learn in the abstract. Through setting goals and playing like a cohesive unit, your kids learn a lot more naturally.
  • Nothing makes your kids aware of leading a healthy life quite like athletics. Teens participating in active sports know the importance of staying fighting fit. Therefore, they’re more likely to follow an active lifestyle and healthy routine. What’s more, according to a research, kids pursuing sports are likely to avoid obesity and unhealthy eating habits.
  • When Kevin Kniffin, a behavioral science professor at Cornell University, conducted a study, he found kids who played sports in high school make better employees. In fact, the study also found that potential employers tend to favor jobs candidates who played active sports in their school career.

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Encourage your kids to pursue sports for fun and leisure but don’t force them into rigorous and intense training. [/pullquote]

​Are You Pushing Your Kids Too Hard?

As a parent, it’s only natural for you to have high hopes for your kids. You want to them to succeed academically, athletically and otherwise. However, in the process, you might be exerting too much pressure on your kids.

So, how will you know if you’re pushing your kids too hard to pursue multiple activities apart from studies?

According to parenting coach Elaine Taylor-Klaus, kids tend to show signs when they’re overscheduled and stressed. For example, pushing your kids to take up baseball practice, guitar lessons and art classes every alternate day can demotivate them, and even affect their grades.

While some kids express their displeasure openly, more reticent children may act grouchy and irritable.

Therefore, you need to make sure it’s fun for your kid and he/she is enjoying the extra-curricular activities. That’s how they’ll sustain their enthusiasm and pursue those hobbies in the long run as well.

As a matter of fact, Tiger Woods is probably a great example how the element of fun encourages your kids to get better at sports activities. In an interview with Washington Post, Tiger revealed that he fell in love with golf at an early stage, not because his parents pushed him into it but because his dad would keep it fun, light and competitive. He also said he’d be okay if his son Charlie didn’t play golf professionally.

 

​The Dangers of Pushing Your Kids too Hard

When it comes to sports, parents should be aware of the safety threshold for their kids. There are many who push their kids to a point where they become overtrained, stressed and burned out.

According to a national survey, nine out of 10 parents tend to underestimate the length of time their kids should take off from playing any sports during the year.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM) advise that kids should stay 2-3 months (or even a season) away from a specific sport every year. Moreover, it’s recommended that young athletes should take one day off each week from organized activities.

Parents who aggressively push their kids to an unrelenting sports regime, allowing little breaks, may end up harming their kids in the long run.

Fred Fornicola, health coach and fitness professional, warns parents against pushing their kids too hard and advises that they should follow an appropriate athletic program which allows ample scope for safety, progression, and recovery.

Ellis Cashmore, a professor of culture, media and sport at Staffordshire University says parents should stop pushing their kids to become sporting heroes as most youngsters will never make it. Warning parents of potential downsides of encouraging teenagers to pursue a rigorous sports routine, he said overdriven kids could resort to performance-enhancing drugs among many other consequences.

 

​Final Thoughts

While sports offer a range of benefits to your kids both in the short and long run, pushing too hard could have potential implications for your young kids. Encourage your kids to pursue sports for fun and leisure but don’t force them into rigorous and intense training. After all, you want to keep your young kids safe from injuries.

May 8th, 2018

Posted In: Athletics, Community, Education, Nutrition, Parenting, Technology, Uncategorised

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How Quality and Quantity of Sleep Impacts Academic Performance

Children and teens require more sleep than adults to perform at their best. Even with marginally more sleep, they’ll be better prepared both physically and mentally to perform to the best of their abilities.

In a perfect world, you could let your son or daughter in on this nugget of wisdom, and they would quickly adopt sleeping habits which are conducive to good grades.

Unfortunately, this isn’t a perfect world.

Nevertheless, here are six reasons you should strive to get your kids to sleep more. Their grades will improve, and they’ll likely be a lot more charming and co-operative at home, too!

1. Memory

Have you ever noticed that when you have a restful night’s sleep, you tend to have better recall for names, to-dos, and basic facts?

The same goes for your kids. It might be tempting to let your kids stay up to all hours of the night studying and cramming for a test. It’s better for their brains to study earlier in the day, catch some zeds, and then approach the test or exam with a refreshed mindset.

The Sleep Foundation has done thorough studies, and discovered that a good night’s sleep:

  • Prepares the brain to absorb data into memory
  • Process the information, and reason through it for understanding
  • Retain the information, and prepare the brain to return facts/info when needed

If you haven’t left this page to find out how to join The Sleep Foundation, you can do your own studies at home. If your whole family starts to get more sleep, you’ll remove the “fear of missing out” (FOMO) factor of staying up late, and help everyone’s memory to recall how helpful this blog was.

Not to mention, your son or daughter will improve their memory of when they need to do homework, take out the garbage, or do the dishes!

2. Anxiety Relief

When your kids sleep, their brain produces serotonin and norepinephrine chemicals, which help to reduce stress and anxiousness. These chemicals are created by your brain’s neurotransmitters when allowed to rest during deep (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep.

The kind you have when you dream.

If you were an anxious child, you might remember how it was difficult to do your best at school when you felt nervous or stressed out at school. You might still feel that way at work.

3. Healthy Lifestyle = Better Sleep

Many of the behaviours which are beneficial to good performance at school, are the same which lead to good health.

They include:

  • Exercise
  • A balanced, healthy diet
  • Limiting stimulants like caffeine, screen time and sugar
  • Getting enough fresh air

If your child has healthy meals, snacks and stays away from too many soft drinks and chocolate bars, they’ll likely find it’s easier to sleep. It’s a good idea to have your son or daughter get outside and burn off some anxiety by playing a sport, riding a bike, or taking a walk.

By enjoying these activities with your child, you’ll improve your own sleep patterns.

4. How Much Sleep Is Enough?

If you have a teenager, or teenagers in your house, encourage them to get as close to nine hours of sleep as you can. It may seem like a lot, but it’s the recommended amount of light and deep sleep, according to the US National Institute of Health. (See link just above).

Infants should get sixteen hours of sleep, and children should get something in between.

Sleep deprivation may seem like a great idea when a favorite TV show is on, or a video game achievement is just within reach, but consistent shortage of sleep will cause a neurological “crash” of sorts, once your sleep bank is overdrawn.

5. Sharpen Attention

Attention in class is critical. If you find your teen or child isn’t paying attention to you at home, their teacher(s) are likely seeing the same behaviour. Focus and attention are directly impacted by the amount of sleep you have, so encourage your child to get a full eight or nine hours.

If you can avoid arguments at bedtime, you’ll create the best environment for sleeping for everyone. Conflict, as you know, builds up stress or excitement. Try reading a story, encouraging your child to read a paper book, and try to build consistent habits before bed, so life is predictable. An hour of quiet, calmness and serenity before bed is a good way to ease into sleep. When kids don’t get enough sleep, they tend to get hyperactive, as opposed to tired like adults.

6. Improve Creativity

A rested brain can also spur creativity, as it can source different regions of the brain, and create relationships between thoughts better. The attributes above can help improve memory and logic for classes like math, history or science. If you have a child who is very artistic, it’s a good idea to remind them once in awhile that more sleep can stimulate their creativity too!

If your child can focus and maintain their attention for extended periods in the classroom, and retain what they are taught more effectively, their academic performance is sure to improve.

Sleep also helps improve metabolism, which can help to reduce weight. If your child is struggling with weight issues, encourage them to adopt healthier behaviours including diet, sleep and exercise, and their academic performance could benefit.

If your child is struggling in school, try encouraging sleep as a way to cope with the stress and demands of the school day. Calm, supportive conversations, as opposed to conflict and argument is the best way to encourage good sleep habits.

June 1st, 2017

Posted In: Athletics, Education, Parenting, Uncategorised

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Nutrition Tips to Enhance your Child’s Athletic Performance

We have all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but if your child is active in sports, proper nutrition throughout the day becomes essential. The right foods and drinks will fuel their bodies and their minds.

There are many resources parents can consult for information about this important topic. There is the Canada Food Guide, your child’s coaches, nutritionists and your paediatrician. In general, experts will agree that it’s essential for your child’s diet to include foods from the following categories:

  • protein – meat, eggs, nuts and dairy
  • carbohydrates – whole grains, vegetables and fruits
  • vitamins and minerals – dairy, fruits and vegetables
  • fats – meats, cheese, nuts and oils

Make sure they start their day off right with foods such as eggs, oatmeal, nut butters and fruit. Pack a healthy lunch and snacks to keep their energy up between meals. Lunch options might include a turkey sandwich on whole grain bread, a whole grain pita with banana and peanut butter or leftovers from dinner. Great snack options might include cheese, fruit or a handful of nuts.

To improve performance before a game or practice, children should eat two to four hours in advance to give food time to digest. Fuel up pre-game with a snack that includes carbohydrates and protein but is also low in fat and fibre. Bring a snack for longer practices, competitions or events, such as a sandwich, fruit or nuts. Energy bars are convenient, but whole foods are just as energy rich. After a game, aid recovery by drinking water and having a snack that also includes carbs and protein. Carbs give the body and brain energy while protein helps build and repair muscle.

Active kids might need more calories than the average child because they are burning more energy when they participate in sports. As a general rule, kids ages 6 to 12 need between 1,600 and 2,200 calories a day, but every child is different.

It’s also important that children hydrate with water, not juice, pop or sports drinks, which can have added sugar, caffeine and calories. Use a refillable water bottle and ensure your child drinks before, during and after activity to prevent becoming sick from dehydration. It’s recommended that kids have between 6 and 10 cups of fluid a day.

Typically, children should not diet no matter the sport or activity. As they are still growing, they need a balanced diet. Restricting calories, skipping meals, or adopting a diet high in protein or low in fats or carbohydrates can be harmful to both their physical development and mental health.

Studies show that there are many ways to encourage healthy eating habits in children. Many kids tend to naturally prefer carb-heavy diets, which isn’t good for kids in general, let alone athletes. If your child’s diet is limited to specific foods, for instance, you might want to take them to the grocery store and allow them to select a new food each time. Have them help out in the kitchen and prepare dinner or lunches with you. If they don’t like a certain food once, make it again and and again, and encourage them to try a bite every time. Eventually they might find their tastes change or that they are open to new experiences. Even if your family has a hectic sports schedule, try to plan healthy meals in advance so you’re not rushed or temped to feed them junk food in the car. When you can, sit together as a family. Eat slowly, spend time together, make it an enjoyable experience and model healthy eating habits yourself.

Parents concerned about their children’s diet or nutritional needs should contact their pediatrician or a dietician who specializes in children and athletes.

 

December 9th, 2016

Posted In: Athletics, Nutrition

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