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Catherine Holecko

Family Fitness Blog

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Does your child compete to excel?

Wednesday May 28, 2014

Archer drawing bow, photo by Vladimir PcholkinIt turns out that there's a difference between "competing to win" and "competing to excel." And it also turns out that especially for girls, competing to excel is a healthier form of competition that could help boost athletes' self-esteem and lower their risk of depression. If your child is just starting out in sports, you can steer him toward this mindset. And even if your child is older, you can still help influence her to be motivated by personal goals more than a wish to dominate other players. It's a great way to help kids reap more of the benefits of sports.

Photo: Vladimir Pcholkin/Getty Images

Sunscreen Day

Tuesday May 27, 2014

Today is National Sunscreen Day (which I learned from Shareables, a handy-dandy daily email from About's social media team). It's too bad because I could have used a reminder to pick up this year's supply of sunscreen before the long holiday weekend. Both my husband and I got a little pinker than we should have after spending many hours outside gardening, painting, and even walking the Memorial Day parade with our son's ice hockey league (the kids didn't walk--they brought their inline skates!).

So maybe you need a refresher on sun safety like I do; or on all the ways to keep your family safe this summer. I hope it's a busy, active season for you!

Keep it simple

Friday May 23, 2014

Homemade indoor soccer gameEarlier in the week I posted about using TV to prompt active, dramatic play. Today I'm thinking about other ways to encourage active play--with the simplest of toys and household objects. After all, we all know kids love turning not-toys into incredibly cool playthings. From bedsheets to balls to basic musical instruments, these simple classics encourage lots of movement. And fun!

Photo: Erica Greis

Confidence and your injured athlete

Wednesday May 21, 2014

Girl resting on sofa, concussion recoveryDid you know that after reconstructive knee surgery, as many as two-thirds of patients don't return to their pre-injury level of play? Some researchers think this is due not to physical scars, but emotional ones. If your child suffers a sports injury, she needs to feel psychologically ready to return to play before she hits the field again.

If she returns too early, she risks becoming depressed or anxious, or even sustaining another injury. Keep tabs on how she is feeling during the recovery process. Her confidence in her own abilities is an important factor, so do what you can to build that up.

Photo: Caroline Woodham / Getty Images

Get dramatic

Monday May 19, 2014

Homemade fitness equipment balance beam using painters tapeIf you spend a lot of your parenting energy trying to limit TV, I salute you. It's hard work, but it's also worthwhile. I still believe, though, that TV doesn't have to be the villain all the time. There are ways to use it to your advantage, even to encourage physical activity. When kids re-enact their favorite stories or create new ones with their favorite caped crusaders and other characters, they are engaging in dramatic, and often very active, play! Read more about TV and active play.

Photo: Erica Greis

Weekend fitness fun for families

Friday May 16, 2014

Kids in swimming pool, photo by Hoby FinnMy family already has a figure skating seminar, a flag football game, and a half-marathon on the calendar for this weekend. But if yours is open for some fitness fun, how about Kids to Parks Day (Saturday, May 17)? The National Park Trust sponsors this celebration, which includes a prize giveaway and special events at parks across the USA. Some events are being held next weekend, too.

Also on Saturday's schedule is National Learn to Swim Day, sponsored by swim toymaker Swimways (you can see some of their offerings on this list of way cool water toys). Visit a pool or sign up for lessons for your child--it's all about keeping him safe in the water.

Photo: Hoby Finn/Getty Images

Protect girls' knees from injury

Thursday May 1, 2014

Last summer, I wrote about the issue of female athletes and ACL injuries. Now the American Academy of Pediatrics has published a new clinical report designed to help doctors diagnose and treat these serious knee injuries in young athletes.

The report also discusses ways to prevent the injury from happening: "Research demonstrates that specific types of physical training can reduce the risk of ACL injury as much as 72 percent, especially in young women," the AAP states. Recommended training includes plyometrics and strength training.

The findings on girls' ACL injuries are sobering:

  • Female athletes between 15 and 20 years old account for the largest number of ACL injuries.
  • High school sports with the most ACL injuries are, in order from highest to lower: girls' soccer, boys' football, girls' basketball, girls' gymnastics, and lacrosse (both boys and girls).
  • Girls' rates of ACL injury in high school and colleges are two to six times higher than boys' rates in similar sports.
  • Girls are more likely to have surgery and less likely to return to sports after an ACL injury.

In response to this new data, one orthopedic surgeon says parents need to demand preventive training programs for their daughters. "I'm tired of seeing so many girls and young women with ACL injuries in my clinic," says Pietro Tonino, MD, Pietro Tonino, director of sports medicine at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Illinois. "Many of these injuries could be prevented with a simple warm-up program that can be done in minutes."

Be a good coach and a good parent

Tuesday April 29, 2014

Twice a year, my son plays flag football in a low-key league with a bunch of friends. It's a short season and they truly just play for fun, which I love. Our local Y organizes the leagues, secures the fields, and provides referees. But parents always serve as coaches.

By now, my husband has put in quite a lot of sidelines time as an assistant coach. Usually he is helping to oversee the rotation, making sure each kid gets a chance to play quarterback and running back. Even though this is a low-pressure situation, he still takes extra care to be fair with every child on the team. That's the number-one rule of coaching when your own kid is on the team, and he takes it seriously. So far, so good!

A prettier fitness tracker

Thursday April 24, 2014

Misfit Wearables Shine - bloom necklaceYou can get your Jawbone or FitBit fitness tracker in a range of cute colors, but it will still look like a tracker. The Shine, however, is different. It's a small, circular, brushed metal device that you can wear as a clip-on, strapped to your wrist, or as a necklace, and you can actually get away with calling it a piece of jewelry.

Misfit Wearables, Shine's manufacturer, has just come out with a new necklace design called "Bloom," pictured (front and back sides). They're suggesting it as a Mother's Day gift. Check out my review (linked above) if you're considering it for yourself or someone special.

Photo: Misfit Wearables

Help stop bullying in sports

Tuesday April 22, 2014

I am not really the worrying kind of parent, but there are some things that scare me every time I think of them. One is bullying, and another is head injuries. Since my kids play sports, they are susceptible to both. I, of course, do what I can to prevent either one from happening. But I can't do it alone. I need help from my kids themselves: They need to follow safety rules, and let me know if they get hurt. And I need coaches, officials, and other parents to be on their guard too.

That's where the National Alliance for Youth Sports comes in. In honor of Youth Sports Safety Month (April), NAYS has made available two important training courses--one on concussion prevention and the other on bullying awareness. The courses are free and anyone involved in youth sports can take them. You can also read my Q&A on bullying by teammates, which contains tips from NAYS.

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