Though climbing the tree-house ladder may not be an option and the community pool has long since closed, keeping kids active is critical for our wee ones in the winter season. (Childhood obesity rates have more than tripled in the past 30 years.) To help us beat the winter doldrums, we turned to Jon Adler Kaplan, fitness and wellness director at Meadow Mill Athletic Club and founder of the nonprofit Bmore Fit, which trains teachers to use techniques such as simple yoga poses and jumping jacks as breaks in their Baltimore City classrooms. “The kids say they feel better after these short breaks,” says Kaplan. “The exercise helps them have more focus for their work.”
Is it still okay for them to play outside?
Baltimore has mild winters so, as long you dress accordingly, you can do everything outside.
Any suggestions for those days when it really is too cold for the great outdoors?
Though I’m not a big fan of electronic games, some of the Wii games are great. I went to a friend’s house recently, and all the adults were doing Dance Dance Revolution. We had so much fun doing it. It got my heart rate up, and I was sweating badly. It was awesome.
What’s the best way to talk to kids about the importance of exercise?
Parents need to encourage kids to be the best that they can be, but they also need to practice what they preach and be active themselves. I personally like sports that are lifetime sports such as tennis and swimming that are kinder on the body. Not everyone is cut out for competitive sports.
Are there any activities parents and kids can do together?
Exercise should be fun. Parents can challenge their kids to push-up contests, jumping-jack contests or planking contests to see who can hold their plank the longest.
Is there a link between academic performance and wellness?
Sitting deactivates the brain, and moving activates the brain. Exercise causes the creation of new neurons in the brain, which help with learning and memory. Lastly, I cannot stress enough the importance of children eating a healthy breakfast before school starts. Our brain needs the carbohydrates for optimal functioning.
WHAT YOU NEED:
Fitness Cards: Flash cards with imagery can easily teach different yoga postures and workout moves.
Take This Dance: Try interactive video games to incorporate fun with an active lifestyle.
Food for Thought: Start the day off right with a well-balanced breakfast, which will give kids brain fuel.