Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Can Exercise Make Kids Happier and Smarter?

Exercising should be part of our daily routine! Finding some activities that are pleasurable, fun and enjoyable to do while burning some calories and building up those muscles is key. Involving your kids in the activities is a good way to do it. Kids like to imitate their parents, seeing them as role models.
Also, according to a recent research from the University of Illinois, fitter kids generally score better on cognitive challenges. Children’s brains were scanned during tests to filter out unnecessary information and attend to relevant cues. An M.R.I. showed that fit children had significantly larger basal ganglia, a key part of the brain that aids in maintaining attention and “executive control,” or the ability to coordinate actions and thoughts crisply.
A second group of children was also tested on complex memory. Such thinking is associated with activity in the hippocampus, a structure in the brain’s medial temporal lobes. The M.R.I. scans revealed that the fittest children had heftier hippocampi. Being fit may “enhance neurocognition” in young people, the authors concluded.
Evidence accumulates about the positive impact of even small amounts of aerobic activity. Past studies from the University of Illinois found that “just 20 minutes of walking” before a test raised children’s scores, even if the children were otherwise unfit or overweight, says Charles Hillman, a professor of kinesiology at the university and the senior author of many of the recent studies. Sustained aerobic fitness in young people has a very compelling neurological impact.
There are several ways to involve your kids, from power walking with a stroller, to playing sports, swimming, or simply long walks. Just be creative and enjoy the fun!

Power Walking with a Stroller:

Walking at a fast pace with a stroller is a very good way to exercise. It helps you burn more calories by speeding up the metabolism while strengthening and toning the upper and lower leg and glutes muscles. You can also add several strength exercises with the help of the stroller. The idea is to have a full workout while enjoying the company of your kids.
You can start with about 30 minutes of exercise, and increase the length of your intervals as you improve your fitness. Exercising 5 times a week is ideal!
First you need to make sure your stroller is safe for your little one at a faster speed. You will also need comfortable clothes and good running shoes for yourself.
- Warm up for about 10 minutes by pushing the stroller as you walk.
- Stretch your legs and arms for about 5 minutes.
- Now speed up your walk, at a pace that is just slightly uncomfortable but enough to carry a conversation. Try to keep your pace for 20-30 minutes to start with.
- Find a safe place for a quick stop for the first set of strength exercises. Using the stroller handles, do 20 squats at a slow pace. Stand with about hip or shoulder-width apart. Bend the knees and lower into a squat, keeping the knees in line with the toes. Lower down as far as you can, but never lower than 90 degrees, and push into the heels to go back to starting position.
- Back to power walk for another 15 minutes.
- Find another safe place for a quick stop and lunges! Using the stroller handles, do 20 lunges at a slow pace. Stand in a split stance, with feet about 3 feet apart. You want both knees to be at about 90-degree angles at the bottom of the movement. Bend the knees and lower the back knee toward the floor, keeping the front heel down and the knee directly over the center of the foot. Keep the torso straight and abs in as you push through the front heel and back to starting position.
- Back to your power walk for another 10 minutes.
- Find a safe place and comfortable place for some abs (maybe back home). You can lie down next to the stroller and a routine of abs. Follow your doctor's instructions on types and quantity of post-partum crunches suitable for you.
- Finish with a good Stretch

Great Exercised to Do with a Baby or Toddler

First, set the mood with some fun and energetic music. Also, the room should be safe enough to allow you and your baby or toddler to be on the floor, comfortably.
Here are some examples of effective exercises to do your your little one (s)
Lower body: Sets of squats, dips, lunges, step-ups, or step-downs holding your child as resistance. You can also leave your child on the floor, bassinet or stroller close to you while you make the movements.
Upper body: Sets of push-ups, triceps dips, biceps resistance weight lifting using weights or holding your baby with both arms up and down. You can use the same resistance to work your shoulders.
Abs: you can use a Swiss ball. Do some abs holding your baby on your lap (bouncing up and down is very entertaining for babies and toddlers!)
Check out the links below for videos with more examples of effective movements to make with your kids (they will love it!):


No comments:

Post a Comment