Exercise with Your Kids

We all know that childhood obesity is on a rise, and that efforts have been made at a national level to encourage children to be more active.  This can be a challenge since more and more schools have cut physical education and recess time.  A friend of mine, Dr. David Katz, at the Yale Prevention Research Center, has created a program for elementary schools to restructure physical activity into the classroom. It’s called ABC for Fitness (Activity Bursts in the Classroom). Students participate in brief exercise bursts at the beginning of each class. Teachers create a classroom environment that nurtures the students to focus with this incorporation of physical activity throughout the day.

As a mother, it is an amazing feeling and huge responsibility to know that I am a role model of healthy living to my family. Get involved with your children’s health. Talk to their school and get teachers to offer the ABC for Fitness program. Remember that you are their biggest teacher with your example.  Exercise with them after school and on the weekends. Make healthy living a fun family affair, and you will all benefit from it.

ABC for Fitness:


Exercise Intensity

Ever wonder what the heart rate numbers mean on your treadmill, bicycle or elliptical machine?  They are there to gauge what intensity you are exercising in order to reach your goals. It is important to know how hard your heart is beating during cardiovascular activity. When you hold onto the heart rate handles of the machine you want to make sure that you are within your target heart rate zone, or THRZ.  To do this, you will first need to calculate your maximum heart.  Maximum heart rate, or MHR, is the number of times your heart should beat per minute at the higher limit of what your cardiovascular system can handle. It is calculated by subtracting your age from 220.  For example, if you are 50 years old: 220 – 50 = 170 MHR.

Once you know you MHR, you can calculate your THRZ.  This is the range at which your heart is being exercised and conditioned but not overwork.  This range gives you the best results for burning fat, weight loss, and cardiovascular endurance.  If your heart rate is below that zone you significantly reduce your exercise intensity.

There are 3 levels of exercise intensity and here is how your heart rate matches up to the levels:

– Light exercise intensity: 40 – 50% of your MHR

– Moderate exercise intensity: 50 – 70% of your MHR

– Vigorous exercise intensity: 70 – 85% of you MHR

Now calculate what target heart rate zone you wish to exercise.  For the 50 year old with the MHR of 170, the levels would be:

– Light intensity: 68 – 85 Heart Rate.

– Moderate intensity: 85 – 119 Heart Rate.

– Vigorous intensity: 119 – 145 Heart Rate.

You always want to start with light exercise and gradually build up to a higher intensity. The goal is to perform 30-minutes at a moderate to vigorous intensity most days of the week. This would be mean aiming to work out within the THRZ of 119 – 145. Now you know what the heart rate numbers mean and how they help keep your cardiovascular system in shape.

Do You Eat too Quickly?

I just heard about a new invention to help you slow down and savor your food.  The HapiFork and HapiSpoon are utensils with handles that vibrate if you take a bite less than 10 seconds between each mouthful.  The goal is that you will re-train your brain to eat less because you slow down to enjoy each bite. I don’t know how I feel about someone having to plug-in and charge the handles of their fork and spoon.  Seeing how the new products run about $99 each and have not been proven effective in helping people lose weight, I strongly believe the answer to healthy weight loss is eating more plant-based foods that are low in calories and increasing physical activity. Meals should be enjoyed – not complicated and leaving you frustrated with your fork or spoon.  You can re-train your brain to embrace a healthy lifestyle, and your body with thank you for years to come!

Outdoor Workout

Do you want to get a stellar workout and enjoy a breath of fresh air?  Grab a pair of light weights and head to a local park to try this quick and effective workout:

– Jog around the park 2x.

– Dynamic warm-up stretches, such as step-touches, leg swings, and runners stretch.

– Find a bench, step or curb and perform Plank to a One-Arm Row for 12 reps. Then hold plank for 30 seconds. Repeat x 3 sets.

– Jog around the park 1x.

– 20 reps of Hamstring Dead-lifts to Overhead Press. Repeat 3 times.

– Mountain Climbers for 30 seconds.

– 20 reps of Plie’ Squats to Anterior (Front) Arm Raises. Repeat x 3.

– Find a bench for 12 triceps or regular push-ups. Then jumping squats or step-ups onto the bench for 30-seconds.

– Find a step or curb for jumping toe-taps with alternating bicep curls for 30-seconds.

– Run down the field with knee-ups and back with butt-kicks. Repeat x 3.

– 20 reps of Reverse Flys with the back leg raised. Then 15 walking lunges. Repeats x 3.

– Burn out the core with 20 reps of bicycle kicks, leg-lifts, and an elbow-plank hold for 1-minute.

– Cool-down stretches, such as seated hamstring, lying IT-band, and standing quad stretch.

Maybe you enjoy a group fitness setting.  Find a class in your area that is held outdoors. It may be yoga, a tennis clinic, or a bootcamp fitness class.  Bring the kids along to join in the fun and make sure you stay hydrated.

Make Exercise a Part of Your Family Weekend

gerDodger outside this weekend for some family fun physical activity! Head tithe beach and toss a football or frisbee. Bike ride to the nearby pool or tennis courts. Go to a state park and hike the trails or hop in a canoe. If it’s snowing outside, build a snowman and go sledding or ice skating. Find something you all enjoy and have fun together!