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How to Stick with Your Fitness Routine Over the Holidays


by Sara Baxter  

You have a regular fitness routine. You’ve stuck with it all fall. Now here come the holidays, that festive and frenetic stretch of weeks that can wreck even your best-planned exercise regimen. Fear not: You can revel in the holidays while staying on task with your fitness routine. A few tips:

Make an “appointment”
Schedule your exercise as you would a meeting or party – and keep the appointment. It’s even easier if you are part of a regular class.

Have a plan B
If something thwarts your best intentions, like entertaining family in town for the holidays, have a backup plan. For example, tell yourself, “Tomorrow, I will walk at 4 p.m., but if my cousin drops by to visit, I’ll go to the gym at 6:30.” If you typically exercise in the evening, you may want to switch your routine to mornings, just during the holidays, so evening parties won’t interfere.

Sneak it in
“Your exercise routine may get derailed by shopping trips and errands,” says Sally Brozek, a registered dietitian who specializes in weight management at Atlanta’s Piedmont Hospital. “Try to fit in extra steps by parking far from the front door of the store, taking extra laps around the mall, and trying to use the stairs instead of the elevator, if you are able.”

Break up your workout
Experts tell us we should get at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week to reap benefits. If necessary, segment your workout into three 10-minute sessions that you can squeeze in each morning, noon and evening.

Use “downtime”
If you have to drop off children at a holiday pageant rehearsal, exercise while they’re occupied. Walk around the neighborhood or sneak off to the gym.

Work out at home
When time is tight, don’t waste it driving to the gym. Stay put and dust off the stationary bike or treadmill, or pull workout videos/DVDs off the shelf.

Involve visitors
When family or friends are in town, invite them to join in your exercise plans: Take them for a walking tour of your neighborhood, or have them join you at the gym. “You get to spend time talking with them while getting your exercise,” says Brozek.

Set realistic goals
Instead of working out five times per week, you may have to settle for three. But that’s OK: A study conducted by the American College of Sports Medicine found those who set realistic goals were more apt to stick with exercising than those who set loftier goals.





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Six Ways to Bring Out the Athlete in Every Kid


by Sara Reistad-Long

Everywhere you look, there’s information about the importance of getting your kids to exercise. According to Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign, as little as 60 active minutes throughout the day can have a huge impact on a child’s obesity risk. Because sports can feel like play, not exercise, finding one your little one likes is a great starting point.

But what if your child just doesn’t want to try one? We asked top-ranked sport psychologist Dr. Robert Weinberg of Miami University-Ohio (and the author of nine books in the field) for his must-have list of easy and effective ideas for how to get children on their feet -- and having fun.

1. Give them choices
Research is clear that if children participate in a physical activity or sport just because their parents want them to, then the result will usually be short-term involvement in exercise. This in mind, think about what’s unique about your child. Does he tend to like working or playing in groups or alone? Does she need structure or a lot of autonomy? In addition, what kinds of athletes (or even celebrities) does he admire? Use these things (not your ideas of skills she should be learning) to put together a working list of ideas to go over with your child. The opportunity to give input, help with the process and even learn about the role models associated with each sport can turn getting off the couch into something to get excited about.

2. Involve their friends
Peer influence and acceptance is extremely important for adolescents. Talk to parents of your child’s close friends to find out what their kids are up to. Or, if you’re all in the same boat, come up with an activity the kids can all do together.

3. Play to their strengths
When narrowing your list of options, think about where your child’s talents lie. If he doesn’t have great hand-eye coordination, don’t make something that requires it the first sport you try. Research has shown that if a child starts to feel success or competence in an activity, it increases the chances she will like it and continue.

4. Don’t shun their love of video games
If you have a TV or video game lover on your hands, use it to your advantage. A number of studies have shown that kids burn a lot of calories playing Wii games – generally equivalent to energetic, moderate-intensity walking

5. It’s (sometimes) okay to give them rewards
It’s true that rewards can enhance motivation. But the key is to try to use the reward not just for time logged but also to reflect some level of competence or achievement. Healthy rewards should have meaning to the child, and be used mostly early on. Ideally, they’re there to kick-start the discovery the natural “reward” of getting better and better at something.

6. Giving them a little push can help a lot
If you’ve tried all of the above and getting going still feels tough, it’s all right to be a little pushy. Interviews with young athletes reveal that in some cases, their parents’ pushing them was what they needed to get involved in a sport or some type of physical activity. They said they didn’t realize it at the time, but in looking back, they were glad their parents urged them into the activity when they were younger.

Ready to burn some calories as a family? These fun outdoor games are guaranteed to bring out the kid in you.





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