Category Archives for Fitness

The Relationship Between Physical Activity and Learning

We may not be able to gather in groups right now, but we can make the best of a difficult situation by planning for the day when we can resume our regular activities. While we have this time outside of the usual routine, we can use it to learn new ideas that will come in handy later. As the saying goes, when life hands you lemons, make lemonade. We can use this time to our advantage, so we return even stronger and better prepared.

Making Lemonade

This is an excellent time to practice what you teach. It’s easy to fall into a lull and become inactive without our routines to keep us going, so you may want to take time and reflect on this process to help relate to children who feel similarly. Children who have been without regular exercise for some time may resist movement that pushes them out of their “lull,” their comfort zone. How do you inspire someone to move more when they are resistant or in the habit of staying comfortable? How do you motivate yourself to get up and keep going?

When we’re in the middle of our daily routine, it’s hard to stop and think about these questions. With the slower pace we find ourselves in today, it can be helpful to be reflective and consider new ways to do things. What has worked in the past? What are you looking forward to trying out?

It is vital to keep going, to keep moving. The more we move, the more energy we create, which allows us to be productive. When we move our bodies, the extra blood flow to our brains and the work our muscles do gives us a boost, and we can get more done. Overall, we feel better and more motivated. Our students do, too.

Activity Improves Learning

This motivational boost from exercise and fitness makes movement a crucial part of the learning process. With regular movement, children are energized to face the day. Exercise affects a child’s body by influencing sharper thinking and higher frustration tolerances for challenging work. Their bodies are better equipped to manage the stress of learning.

In addition to the effects on their body, exercise makes it easier for children to concentrate. Higher levels of brain chemicals released during exercise improve the brain’s ability to retain information. Memory is improved, and new information is absorbed faster.

As retention is a significant performance indicator for academic success, the ability for exercise to help students absorb and apply knowledge better makes it a vital component to students’ academic progress. If kids’ brains experience activity and perform better in school, then we must create more movement opportunities to help them develop.

The Value Of Physical Activity

For those children without options to move or ways to be active, we need to create opportunities or provide access. The more we expose kids to physical activity, the more they will stay engaged, ideally seeking exercise activities on their own. As they engage in movement activities, kids will begin to understand their bodies and movements, further developing their awareness of their bodies.

Through kinesthetics, the study of body motion, and one’s own ability to move, children can begin to develop this awareness. Classes like Physical Education or after school programs engaging in physical activities are good ways to build children’s perception of their bodies and how they move.

The goal of developing awareness is to give children an appreciation for their ability to move as well as the importance of exercising. When children learn about the way their bodies react to movement, they will be more likely to engage in physical activity on their own.

For children who don’t readily exercise or have not been exposed to the fundamentals of movement and exercise, they don’t develop the concept of movement in quite the same way. For all children, it is more important than ever to include kinesthetics into their curricula so that they can learn the value of movement and how they can be active.

Building Kinesthetics Programs

Creating programs that reach kids and help them develop their physical ability requires engagement and variety so that all children can participate and gain these essential skills. Program plans can build confidence and foster a love for exercise by focusing on skill development and fun activities.

As you plan, remember that the objective is to introduce movement, build body awareness, and scaffold to more advanced skills over time. Break down broad concepts into smaller parts that can become games. Repetition builds muscle memory, so look for ways to repeat the skills but with new techniques; think, “same rules, different game.”

As children interact more with movement, they can begin to experience the positive effects of exercise. They learn better. This is the higher purpose of kinesthetics. While life is interrupted in this way, it can be challenging to focus on the future when the present is so uncertain. However, there is hope to be found in plans for the future, so use this time to look ahead. What can you build when everyone comes back together?

How Exercise Affects Mental Health

Our bodies really are a machine; an amazing and organized system that works hard to keep us going. Every function of our circulatory, respiratory, musculoskeletal, and other systems work in conjunction, relying on each other to create the incredible result that is the body.

Lifting that spoon of cereal to your mouth takes a host of functions that interact and coordinate to make it possible to eat. Remove one, and suddenly, cereal falls off the spoon or never even leaves the bowl. Everything must work together and function well.

So, we care for our bodies, and we exercise to keep the systems healthy. And, the sooner we start, the better the body develops into a healthier machine. That means starting fitness young is key.

Machine Care Instructions

If our bodies are a machine, then the heart is the engine and the brain is the power switch. Both are vital, but brain functions pre-empt the heart. While we need to stay active so our heart can run the systems relying on it, the brain is the on/off switch that keeps it going.

The brain not only guides our actions and behaviors but directs our body to perform every function, including the heart. It’s the onboard computer system that makes everything work together. For children, brain function is vital to development, and anything that affects a developing brain must receive due attention.

So, while much of fitness focuses on the physical body and heart health, this focus should not eclipse the importance the role fitness has on children’s mental health. There are major ways that exercise improves children’s abilities to think and feel, which is why this is such a vital and significant effect.

  1. Endorphins. There are powerful brain chemicals at work that stimulate nerves and flood our brain cells to get us going. These chemicals, endorphins, are responsible for moods and a general sense of being. They are powerful because the right amounts can escalate our energy so that we feel amped up and excited about life, or the opposite – drained of energy and feeling blue, dejected, or depressed. When we exercise, our body releases endorphins that keep us feeling good and give the positive energy responsible for our motivation and productivity.
  2. Hormones. Another powerful mix of chemicals in our body, hormones are mighty influencers on our physical and emotional wellbeing. From initiating to maintaining growth and maturity of the body, hormones are fascinating forces that benefit from exercise. Fitness keeps hormone levels in balance and prevents factors such as weight gain and restricted blood flow that can affect the release of hormone amounts.
  3. Oxygen. We take our ability to breathe for granted because it’s regulated by our autonomic nervous system so that we don’t have to think to do it—it just gets done, all the time, automatically. However, this is a key and vital function because it provides and distributes oxygen to our bodies. Exercise affects this delivery system by bringing in more oxygen, thereby sending out more. In this way, our brain receives big oxygen boosts during activity and functions at an even higher capacity. The more oxygen received, the better the brain works.

It’s a Balancing Act

With all the brain chemistry and systems operating in balance, kids’ brainpower performs at optimal levels. They are their best and brightest versions of themselves with proper amounts of every chemical swirling around as it should, in addition to the right quantities of vitamins and nutrients working hard as well.

Regular exercise affects these balances and levels, creating ideal amounts with which to regulate the body. True health means the body, as well as the mind, is functioning well.

Conversely, a lack of exercise can adversely affect children’s well-being. From bad moods to serious medical conditions like mood disorders, depression, or diabetes, the absence of exercise can exacerbate childhood illnesses or states of mind. Feeling negative can be a result of low hormone levels, a sluggish endocrine system, or the inability to process a high caloric intake of sugar or fat.

And, it can become a vicious cycle; feeling bad may lead to worse eating habits, weight gain, or activity avoidance, further worsening the problems. In this way, a lack of exercise and fitness puts children at risk for mental health problems that could become potentially life-threating.

While exercise is not a magic bullet that makes problems go away, it certainly contributes to better health and overall well-being in children. When children feel a physical sense of strength and fitness at a young age, they are more likely to maintain a strong mental capacity that is cognitively and emotionally balanced, making it possible for them to be their best selves, in mind and body.

20 Hard Facts About Childhood Fitness

As children engage in activities that get them moving, there are significant side effects that participating has on their lives. From better health overall to long-term benefits into adulthood, childhood fitness has some great byproducts beyond just fun.

Fun should be a main driving factor in getting children to participate in physical activity. Having fun with fitness continues to drive motivation for children. However, the following are 20 hard facts about the benefits of incorporating fitness into the lives of youths:

  1. Development. It is better for bones and muscles throughout the body to get active early. The musculoskeletal system benefits from regular and varied activity.
  2. Attitude. When children feel good about themselves, this improves their outlook on life, opening them up to discover and maximize their potential. 
  3. Growth. Children who get active early are more likely to stay active throughout their lives.
  4. Emotional Development. Participating in group exercise gives children the chance to learn healthy coping skills to manage stress.
  5. Maturity. Children who participate in activities are more likely to have a sense of self as part of something bigger, rather than a more self-centric view.
  6. Leadership. Getting active gives children experience leading group activities or making choices that affect others.
  7. Confidence. When children learn new skills, they gain more self-respect and feel more confident.
  8. Health. Active children tend to retain their healthy habits and emerge into adulthood in better overall condition.
  9. Diet. The ability for children to connect healthy eating with activity early in life will sustain them as they understand the importance of making good food choices throughout their lives.
  10. Cognition. Childhood fitness improves kids’ ability to think and learn.
  11. Movement. Fitness counteracts modern sedentary lifestyles and provides an opportunity to move as well as instill a desire to be active.
  12. Strength. Getting fit as a child contributes to feeling strong enough to manage the changes and stress of life as well as actual strength to withstand the physical demands of a full life.
  13. Heart. Activity in childhood leads to better heart health as an adult.
  14. Success. The more fitness children achieve, the more likely they are to seek out other achievements, engaging with life and striving for success.
  15. Participation. When children are active, they gain skills that can lead to membership of a team or club.
  16. Wellness. Children that engage in physical activity will be more likely to protect their bodies than harm themselves through unhealthy choices such as substance abuse.
  17. Motivation. The effort to reach fitness goals will extend to other aspects of life and make it more possible to accomplish goals overall.
  18. Knowledge. As children participate in fitness, they gain knowledge about the way the body works and the requirements for living a healthy lifestyle.
  19. Body Image. Through fitness, children develop a realistic and accurate understanding of a healthy body so that they are less susceptible to disorders or negative body image.
  20. Power. Children that engage in fitness are more capable and self-reliant, and as a result, feel empowered.

Any one of these would be reason alone to get kids active but imagine the collective advantages that come from all twenty working together. Children will be healthier and stronger, both physically and mentally, for their childhood as well as adulthood. 

Imagine The Possibilities 

The healthier we grow as a society, the more we can develop culturally and individually. It’s a benefit to the world we live in when everyone has better health. 

The financial costs alone for managing poor health are astronomical, not to mention the tragic loss of lives from preventable diseases or emotional suffering on relationships from the strain of caregiving. All these detract from our quality of life. 

As society finds more reasons to be sedentary, from our workplace functions that require sitting at a computer to our advances in technology that make it less necessary to budge from the couch (order dinner, groceries, and clothes, all online!), it’s even more important to get moving early and often. Small movements grow larger over time as fitness transforms body strength and allows more opportunities to handle greater exercise.

While a simple game of catch seems like a small gesture, maybe meant to occupy a child’s attention, the movement does more good than just keeping them busy and having fun for a bit; it has a greater impact on the wellbeing of that child and their place in the world. The simple movements like that game of catch with a ball transform into bigger opportunities to move, like group sports or activities centered on ball play.

The facts of the matter are clear:  fitness improves the quality of life, and it’s hard for anyone to argue against that. The sooner we accept our ability to improve life through movement and activity, the better we will feel in life.

Guide to Healthy and Active Students

Students today experience unparalleled pressure compared to previous generations. The stakes are higher for education and college entrances, a college degree likely won’t be enough preparation for a career, and technology has increased speed and decreased privacy which can be for good but also the bad.

Kids today are under a microscope, held to high standards, and not only expected to outperform their peers but also their past performance. Even kindergarten, when school is supposed to be sweet and fun, has picked up its game. Now, full-day kindergarten combined with much more stringent standards for math, writing, and reading has created a new, more challenging experience.

It all trickles down from the competition for jobs experienced at the end of their academic careers, but that means kids these days push up-hill against academic and life pressures from the very start of school until the finish. It’s hard and arduous, and kids need help. How can we keep students healthy and active so that they succeed in life?

Establish Positive Coping Mechanism

Coping skills for stress are crucial for a successful academic career, but too many children fall into using unhealthy methods. From overeating convenience foods and processed snacks to absorbing themselves in sedentary worlds of too much screen time, kids have options to soothe away the stress that are easy, but often unhealthy.

Children need to recognize the connection between their success and their health. When we choose to exert ourselves and exercise, we create added benefits beyond just weight loss. People who move are more likely to cope with stress better. They will feel stronger because realistically, they are stronger at the biological level, and that will impact their brain. There is a highly identifiable connection between an active lifestyle and improved cognition.

Create The Opportunity To Move

For this generation of children who experience more confined and structured play, they may need to seek out an activity. They may not gravitate to sports or exercise on their own, so it’s best to build in movement and activity within their lifestyle.

For these children, they will benefit from learning skills and ways to be active that they can apply throughout their lives. Instead of choosing a sport to master, children today can learn the fundamental skills required to be active. By breaking down sports into skills, we can provide opportunities to gain the foundation for movement that equip this generation to find and participate in activities throughout life.

Offer Fun And Engaging Options

When kids enjoy themselves while being active, they are more likely to return to the same activity or springboard to another one. The feeling of accomplishment from participating will motivate and inspire more of the same behavior. As they grow, this sense of enjoyment and accomplishment from exercising will grow, too, so it’s essential to instill the joy of exercise as early as possible rather than coerce kids to move.

No one wants to feel forced into exercise or activity. If kids do feel this way, then they usually abandon the project or task as soon as they feel frustrated or unmotivated. The best way to engage children in an activity is to make it fun so that they feel enjoyment. The overarching goal is to promote a healthy lifestyle that inspires children to seek out exercise and movement. Making the development of skills into a fun experience ultimately helps foster the established goal.

Focus Attention Away From Screens

You can get your students to fall in love with the idea and actuality of activity. It requires adults who inspire, motivate, and demonstrate a passion for exercise in such a way that kids see the movement as fun, not fearsome. Children are afraid to fail, and too many children who fear failure will avoid anything that feels too risky. When we break down barriers and create safe places to explore movement, then children will respond.

It’s tough today to break kids out of their comfort zones, primarily the screens that occupy them. Screen time offers safety; when they’re watching television or playing a video game, no one witnesses any failures. We are tasked with convincing these children to learn new skills and take risks in ways that rival the security of a screen.

Adults must provide a level playing field, accessible games, cooperative environments, and consistent reassurance. Having this responsibility can feel like a tall task and may be overwhelming. What can compete against the screens?

Providing programs that exist to build skills using play can break the dependence on screens and create healthy and active students. From the youngest to the oldest child, all children enjoy playing. When you layer in skill development with just enough challenge to keep kids’ interest without intimidating them and provide a supportive environment in which to enjoy movement, then kids finally have a reason to put down their screens.

For more information, email info@skillastics.com or www.skillastics.com

Tips And Tricks To Make Exercise Fun For Kids

There is nothing like the feelings of elation and accomplishment after exercising, but too many people never get there because they never get started in the first place. If exercising is daunting, then often, it gets avoided.

When kids fall into this category and avoid exercise, then you may need to break through resistance and find ways to overcome obstacles. How do you reach these kids so that they experience the joy and benefits of exercise?

Make it fun.

If You Build It, They Will Come

Made famous by a movie, this line is nevertheless true. Build a fun exercise program, and children will participate. Exercise can be hard for kids, from learning new moves to feeling sore muscles, and children may be difficult to convince that this discomfort is worth it.

Rather than try to prove otherwise, show them another way to view exercise. Instead of pushing kids to get active, put together programs with cooperative games in a supportive environment led by an enthusiastic and positive adult role model.

Make it fun, and kids will come.

Making Exercise Fun

Kids love to have fun, and it’s part of the joy of being children. So, you want to find ways to make exercise fun to engage them and break down any barriers to exercise.

 

  1. Be Fun. Most children will respond in kind to an adult, so be conscious of the tone you set. Develop a persona that is approachable, non-judgmental, and lighthearted. Consider your tone of voice when you explain rules or must provide redirection and shoot for one that is upbeat and high-energy. Demonstrate enjoyment for the activity with your body language and facial expressions.
  2. Have Fun. Role model enthusiasm for exercise. The children are watching you explain and lead the exercise, so let them see you having fun with it. Enthusiasm is contagious, and your ability to be playful, laugh, and love what you’re doing will show through and inspire them.
  3. Be Empathetic. Like anyone, children respond better to empathy, particularly when it comes to feeling uncomfortable. Worse, they may compare themselves to your ability level and feel ashamed. Break down any barriers to exercise by letting all participants know that you understand their personal goals differ and that you don’t expect perfection from the start. You can also level the playing field by acknowledging that anything is hard at first when it’s new, but as time goes on, things can get easier. Too often, the struggle to breathe and feel muscle strain prohibits people from pursuing exercise, and they give up before the benefits arrive. Reassure children that result come slowly and not overnight.
  4. Provide Motivation. Because results from exercise are slow to appear, it will take constant reminders that the current work will pay off in the future. Children are so invested in the present that it’s hard for them to see long-term or understand a future outcome. Keep their eyes on the prize with regular reminders that they are working towards a goal and show them their progress as often as possible.
  5. Celebrate Small. Keep your eyes open for the small victories and inflate them with praise. If you spot improvement, even in the tiniest way during the activity, take a minute to consult with the child and share your observation. Be cautious that while some children will love the attention of public praise, others are more sensitive and require quieter recognition.
  6. Create Games. Most kids like a challenge and nothing inspires a young child more than the invitation to race! So, play on their youthful exuberance and build in small challenges. Find ways to incorporate exercise into fun games. Avoid games that penalize like individually timed events or breaking into opposing teams, but think more cooperative activities like working together to pass the ball across the gym, relay races as a group to beat a pre-set time, or letting each kid take the lead and rotate until all have had a chance to be a group captain throughout a game.
  7. Set Expectations. It may seem basic, but when you tell the kids your expectations, then you can rule out any negative behaviors with a simple reminder of the rules. Early, tell the group that no one gets left out, everyone participates, and all of them must be supportive. Encourage positive comments to one another, reward team behavior, and spotlight leadership when you see it. Set an environment that is positive, and kids will feel safe and try new activities.

Encourage Yourself, Too

Be aware that there is no magic key; nothing works every time on every kid! Stay flexible and reflective, learning from each experience, and tweaking your plans if necessary.

Remember, the real key is to keep trying.

How Group Exercise Benefits Students (Secrets to Success)

Exercise takes many forms, but for students, the best option is a group exercise. There is no argument against solo activities and lone forms of exercise, like weightlifting or exercise machines, for contributing to health, but they lack an important ingredient for youths: external motivation and affirmation.

For students, there are often internal struggles to feel validated or good about themselves. Any activity that gives them more self-respect is a huge plus. When students participate in group exercise, they gain more of the building blocks for self-esteem. 

Classes or teams in which students exercise together create significant benefits for students’ social, emotional, and physical needs. The group exercise is more likely to push them further than they would imagine possible, allow them to feel a greater sense of purpose, and further develop their potential.

Why Group Exercise 

Watching another person accomplish the same activity that you’re doing is motivating if you fall behind or affirming if you are keeping up. Exercising in a group provides instant feedback that keeps you engaged and focused.

When a group of people exercises together, it forms a community in which each individual shares the same goal: to achieve the activity. How and the ways in which each accomplishes the goal varies, but those variations are the important aspects of group exercise because they set examples others can learn from.

Effects Of Group Exercise

Exercising in a group helps students believe more in themselves and their abilities. The following are just a few of the key ways that group exercise strengthens self-respect:

A Competitive Edge

Competition gets our blood flowing, meaning we push ourselves harder when we compete. There’s an inherent desire to win driving us during a competition, and it causes us to rev up mentally and amp up physically; we rise to the challenge.

When students exercise in a group, they tap into this inner drive that makes them want to best an opponent. They see a peer excel, and they want that for themselves. There is an inner push to strive harder when they compare their progress to another’s.  

This competitive edge can be healthy when initiated properly. Students work harder because they want to test themselves, push past their boundaries, and achieve more based on a comparison of ability. In a group, students see each other’s skills, understand the possibilities, and strive for this higher benchmark. They put more faith in themselves and their ability.

Source Of Inspiration

There is nothing more contagious than a mood, good or bad. People can spread feelings faster than the flu, and in a group setting, students can benefit from the positive influences of others who feel good during the activity. Just as one bad apple can spoil it for the bunch, the opposite is true; one inspiring, enthusiastic participant can raise the moods of others and bring everyone’s spirits up.

When we reach a low point in our physical ability, whether we’re out of breath or feeling the strain from pushing ourselves, it’s so tempting to let go and give up. However, seeing another’s energy and high-level enthusiasm can inspire us to keep going. Their energy resonates within us, and we feel just as pumped as they do, allowing us to revive and push through.

Students who work together in a group can help one another with flagging spirits or low-energy moments, sharing a communal feeling of achievement so that there is reason to keep going when they are tempted to quit. They develop their potential and learn to believe in themselves.

Sense Of Belonging

In a group physical activity, students learn to work together and negotiate their space, giving them a better understanding of themselves within a bigger picture. Participating in physical activity bonds the participants through shared efforts and a mutual goal. They are in this together!

That feeling of a community against the odds or toward an achievement creates a real sense of purpose and belonging. For students, working in groups gives them a sense of place and membership, key ingredients for self-esteem building. 

The more students feel like they belong to the group, the more they invest and work to stay with the group. They will participate better, care more, and work harder when they feel that the group matters to them—and that they matter to the group. They discover their worth and value themselves.

Benefits Of Group Exercise

Students who exercise in a group are more likely to feel better about themselves and stick with the activity. When they participate with others in an activity, there is a greater sense of accountability to the group and themselves. This accountability is a key building block for self-respect because it helps students appreciate themselves in relation to the group and care about themselves and others.

Sports Cultivate Healthy Lifestyles Life Lessons

How Sports Cultivate Healthy Lifestyles and Life Lessons

There’s a reason that sports matter to us, and it’s not just about winning. Sports are good for the mind and body.

First, playing sports feels good, win, or lose. A game is a good challenge and gives the body a good workout. Sports are fun, exciting, and rewarding on a physical level. Then, learning a sport introduces and develops new skills, both mental and physical. The strategy of a sport engages the mind while learning to play provides new abilities and ways to move the body.

Playing sports combines mental and physical energy that elevates life to another level, giving players better ways to think and feel.

Skill Development

There is a natural tendency to follow inertia. Often, children who feel bored continue to do nothing instead of finding something to do. However, put children on a path toward a goal, and they go merrily on their way. When a child engages with a sport, there is always something to do. Sports provide goals within goals.

While it’s fun to play a sport, playing well is another aspect of sports. To play well requires practice and skill development. Any sport can break down into a set of skills, and each of those skill sets comes with practice drills or techniques to learn. This means children who learn a sport can pick one or more skills to develop and spend time on, keeping them active.

Within the bigger picture, learning skills for a sport translates into life lessons that children apply throughout their lifetime. Trying something new requires an element of risk-taking, and sports provide a safe place to acquire this life skill.

Children who learn new skills from a sport will be more comfortable managing the risks of trying something new in life. Accomplishing a new skill instills confidence and self-reliance, good qualities to possess for achieving success. From starting a new job to taking more responsible positions within a workplace, sports pave the way for future success.

And not just at work. In their adult lives, children who participated in sports will be more likely to follow healthy lifestyles that include exercise. From a childhood sport, they have knowledge about their bodies and ways to improve their condition, so they can continue to stay active. Also, they are more likely to continue their sport in some manner on organized teams or professional leagues when they are no longer playing for their school.

sport skills development translates life lessons

Life-Long Activity

Sports are outlets that give children a chance to be physically active, and they gain an early foundation for a healthy lifestyle. From eating right to building muscles so they can perform the sport, children who play a sport learn about being healthy.

When children play a sport, they are more likely to be conscious of their food choices and balance physical activity with sedentary pursuits. Quickly, children who play sports understand the connection between healthy food and gaining the energy required to be physically active. Snacks and meals provide the fuel for their bodies to play sports, and children who care about their sport will care about the foods they eat.

Instead of lounging in their downtime, children on a sport are more likely to get up and out. From practicing the game with others to working on a skill, a child who plays sport has options to use their time toward playing the game instead of being inactive. Children on a sport are more inclined to keep active and benefit their skills instead of sitting around.

In order to be ready for games, children who play sports find value in practice and staying active. These children will know the value of building strength from frequent activity, and the routine of practices before a game will teach them the importance of constant and regular preparation to stay fit. The regiment instills healthy habits to seek exercise that can sustain them into adulthood when there is competition for their time.

Ready For The Future

By engaging with a sport, children learn important life lessons that will enable them to cultivate a healthy lifestyle as an adult. The early exposure to the responsibility of maintaining their bodies in order to play a sport allows children to develop healthy habits to last a lifetime. As they age and become adults, children who play sports have the advantage of experience and knowledge to continue their active lifestyle when they’re older.

As other responsibilities encroach on their lifestyles when they’re adults, children who play sports will be able to prioritize their health and exercise, falling back on their early experiences balancing school and their sport. As life gets more stressful, adults who played sports as a child will have an outlet through exercise and experience healthier living overall.

Exercise Can Save the Future Generations

The Missing Link: How Exercise & Healthy Living Can Save the Future Generations

In bygone days, neighborhood children ran and played outdoors from dawn ‘til dusk, biking through the dirt and capering in the woods. Moms and dads whistled loudly when it was time to come inside and eat dinner, and then the children all scattered home. But that is not the norm today.

More awareness for lurking danger keeps children closer to home with a play radius not much further than the front yard, and the advent of the internet connects children to friends from a computer screen and chair so they no longer galivant together through hidden paths in the woods. Today, children run less and have more sedentary play and organized socializing through contained play dates at friends’ houses in a playroom.

The change from the wild abandon of yore to the more confined and structured play of today is almost visceral. You can feel the social constraints that limit children’s activity as well as the restless energy stored within them, untapped and waiting to burst. In the absence of natural play that wiles away the day with large expenditures of energy, we must create the opportunity for children to let loose and play with gusto.

Creating Active Play

Children of all ages have an amazing capacity for spending energy, and their musculoskeletal systems are developmentally craving movement and full-body engagement. There just isn’t always enough opportunity for them to move in today’s daily routine, so we must be conscious of creating opportunities for them to get the physical activity their bodies require.

Gym classes, after school activity groups, and playdates that include movement are ways to incorporate active play into a child’s day. Ideally, one or more of these occurring daily would be best so that children have ample time to unleash their stores of energy. It’s vital to set aside dedicated time for activity so that children can fully develop their bodies and become healthy. Adults may need to make a little more effort to provide these opportunities, but it’s so worthwhile. The result of more active children is better not just for their health, but for the future.

Long Lasting Benefits To Active Play

Long Lasting Benefits To Active Play

Without activity, our bodies experience atrophy. Atrophy is a condition of the muscles, joints, and bones that renders them weak and incapable of doing their primary job to support the body in all its functions. Atrophy occurs over prolonged periods of inactivity during which the body is at rest for too long. While it’s not life threatening, atrophy contributes to other illnesses or diseases that certainly do harm or limit lifespans.

Atrophy is the result of a body that has not been allowed to perform in full; the human body is designed to work. The body is a system and a machine that regenerates and produces energy as needed; the body is meant to function. Muscle tissue benefits from use and building up strength, and without movement, those muscles will atrophy. Like any system, weaken one point and the rest will follow suit until the whole system collapses.

Luckily, the opposite is true:  continued use will allow the body to grow stronger and prevent atrophy, feeding the system so that it builds itself up. An active body is a healthy body, staving off the harmful consequences of inactivity, like atrophy. It’s vital to stay active.

Children who engage in active play times will continue to build their system and grow stronger. The obstacles to unabandoned outdoor play time and the sedentary lifestyles we have grown accustomed to in society today foster an environment rife with atrophy, so we need to counteract the effects of this by including active times within our lifestyles.

Lasting Changes

The expression, “Knowledge is Power,” strikes at the heart of the problems facing today’s youngest generation:  knowing that we need to stay active to be healthy is the first step to seeking those opportunities. Understanding the harm and causes of atrophy allows us to push against the forces that create the condition so that we can avoid it.

Technology and screen time are conducive to creating atrophy of the human body, so creating movement and activity away from those factors is the start. Children who learn to balance their screen time with active pursuits will develop healthy habits to last a lifetime.

Many times, safety concerns push parents to provide indoor screen time so that children can play in a non-threatening environment. By offering a safe space to be active, parents can now give their children this advantage.

The Healthy Living Chain Reaction 

Giving children the advantage of opportunities to be physically active starts a chain reaction that leads to healthy living as follows: exposing children to regular physical activity establishes a habit; children learn to seek and engage with physical activities; this early exposure and habit lead to skill development, and skills give children knowledge and the ability to pursue even more activity as they grow up.

Once the habit and skills become ingrained, today’s generation of children will be healthier adults tomorrow. The desire for more movement will lead to more individuals seeking activity which in turn influences society. If there is demand, there will be supply, and economic principles will drive society to meet the need.

As society continues to develop more technology to replace the need for humans to act, it will be ever more important for society to have an innate desire to be physically active. Understanding the connection between a healthy body and lifestyle and teaching skills to engage in physical activity will stave off the effects of atrophy and the encroachment of an increasingly sedentary lifestyle.

As the first link in the chain reaction, childhood physical activity initiates the healthy beliefs and actions that will define the future. Starting now, we can create a healthier future for the next generations by promoting and providing access to exercise.

5 Reasons Why Skillastics® Will Make Your Program Great

 

Can you imagine your job getting easier, and more productive?  What if you could maximize participation without wasting the limited time you have?  Wouldn’t it be great to have a resource at your disposal guaranteeing a glowing administrative review?

With Skillastics® you can.

The Skillastics® Activity Kit System is a powerful resource that will transform your program. Not Convinced? Following are 5 key reasons why Skillastics® will undeniably make your program great.

1) Increase Academic Learning
A requirement you are constantly hearing from your administration. Skillastics® bridges the gap between physical activity and academics by seamlessly incorporating vocabulary, literacy, math and STEM learning. Skillastics® is an innovative way of including more academic integration.

2) Connecting with Classroom Teachers
What makes Skillastics® stand out beyond any other physical activity resource is its ability to connect directly with classroom teachers through the Skillastics® Custom Question Card Templates for nutrition, STEM and math. Simply share these templates with classroom teachers and ask them to create questions that are relevant to the lessons that they are currently teaching. You would then take these questions and add them to your program while your students are playing Skillastics®. Instant connection!

3) Organized Chaos
The best large group resource available! You will not find a better large group resource out there. Period. Any instructor that is using Skillastics® properly will tell you that the Skillastics® Activity Kit System exceeds their expectations and reinforces all the reasons why they decided to add Skillastics® to their program.

4) Steller Assessment
It is crucial to assess students to make sure they are really learning. If you, your students, parents, and administration truly want to see fitness progression in your class, the Skillastics® Activity Kit System is the most effective resource to measure movement in a variety of ways.

Fully Engaged
Students are full engaged, which frees you up to conduct formative assessment,    measuring all students progress and mastery of skill without interruption.

Effective Feedback
With students fully engaged, Skillastics® provides a more relaxed atmosphere for feedback and individual instruction when needed.

Summative Assessment with Technology
Skillastics® is the most effective resource to measure student outcomes using heart rate monitors or other technology based devices.

5) The Skillastics® Activity Kit System Saves Time
Do you see your student’s once a week? Twice a week if you’re lucky? How many times do you see a new lesson activity that looks like fun, but takes much too long to set up? The innovative Skillastics® technique takes less than a minute to set up and allows for maximum participation while increasing fitness levels.

Introducing the Skillastics® Activity Kit System into your program will exceed your expectations and fulfill all your objectives. Visit www.skillastics.com or email us at info@skillastics.com to transform your program today.

Developing Volleyball Competency & MVPA

A quality physical education program has curriculum, units, and lessons that are standards based.  One of the important standards for a physical educator is Standard 1 which states that a physically literate person demonstrates competency in a variety of motor skills and movement patterns (SHAPE  America; National Standards & Grade Level Outcomes).  This standard allows physical educators to prepare students to participate in many different physical activities and sports with confidence, which will lead to a life full of activity.

I have taught physical education for 23 years, and every year I always ask my students why they may not like certain sports and physical activities that we do.  Each year, I get the same response:  “I don’t like the activity because I’m not very good at it.”  I then ask them how they could get better at it.  Well, we all know that if they got better at the skills, it would make the game play better, and then more fun will be had when they play the activity/sport.

Along with Standard 1, moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) has become a major focus in our lessons.  However, with this focus on MVPA, some have dropped focusing on Standard 1 because focusing on skills may not get their students’ heart rate up into the appropriate range.  But, this does not have to be the case.  Skills can still be taught effectively while focusing on MVPA as well.

As I have traveled across the country doing presentations at various state and national conferences, my platform and focus has been on infusing fitness into daily lessons.  One of the sports I present on is volleyball, and the teaching of the forearm and overhead pass.  One way I used to teach these skills was with the command style, and they were pretty stationary.  As I went back and looked at my lessons and started asking myself about whether or not they were getting to the appropriate MVPA, I noticed that I needed to change the way I had the students work on their skills.  We all know that if they lack the skills, the game of volleyball is a serve, it hits the ground, and the team scores a point; not much fun for anyone.  So, with a little thinking and creativity, I have been able to increase MVPA and skill development.

Within my research of trying to find ways to increase skills and MVPA, I came across the Skillastics® program.  The first one I used, was the basketball program.  Then, the volleyball kit came out, and I knew I had to have it.  Skillastics® fits with everything I believe in and want to accomplish in my class.  The one nice thing about it, I didn’t have to come up with the fitness activities and there would be a lot of variation in my lessons.  Throughout my volleyball unit, I use the task cards to help with the skill development.  It allows the students to work independently, but yet stay focused on the skills but yet get in a good workout.  Once they have learned the tasks from the kit, we use the entire kit to play Volleyball Skillastics®.  While they are doing this, I know they are working on the skills, increasing MVPA, and having fun.

Skill development is crucial in giving the students confidence they can participate competently in the sport or activity.  However, just because you work on skills, doesn’t mean that MVPA must be lost.  All you need to do is think, be creative, or use a program that already focuses on both.

CLICK HERE To Learn More About Volleyball Skillastics®!

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