is National Physical Fitness Month
David Marshall, M.D., Children's Healthcare of Atlanta
may or may not know, but May is National Physical Fitness Month!
With the hectic schedules of todays families, it seems as
though there is rarely extra time for physical activity. However,
David Marshall, M.D., Medical Director of the Sports Medicine Program
at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta recommends that families should
map out and plan time for activities to ensure they are added to
the daily routine. In honor of National Physical Fitness Month,
here are some family-friendly outdoor activities recommended for
Family walks lasting 20-30 minutes will provide the daily
recommended 20-30 minutes of moderate physical aerobic activity.
Biking has similar benefits to walking.
Hiking has similar benefits to walking and biking.
Soccer provides aerobic activity and gives personal satisfaction
of acquiring and improving on new skills (i.e. running, jumping,
kicking, throwing, etc.). This will also begin to teach the young
athlete teamwork and sportsmanship.
Gardening is a fun way to teach the importance of daily care/maintenance
and learn about healthy eating. In addition, the family can get
satisfaction in eating the harvest.
Golf (if kids are old enough) provides aerobic exercise and
introduces children to a life-long activity.
Orienteering is a fun, different activity that introduces
kids to maps, compass, directions, distance, etc.
Benefits of Physical Activity:
· Physical benefits include a decrease in the risk of obesity,
heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure for all age groups.
Mental benefits include appreciation of outdoor fun, nature, scenery,
sunlight and fresh air. Hopefully, kids and families will begin
to look forward to outdoor activities rather than a new video or
Health and Safety Considerations for Outdoor Activities:
· Apply sunscreen liberally with SPF 30 or higher. Try to
avoid direct sunlight during peak hours (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) Wear
a brimmed hat.
Apply insect repellant if in or near wooded areas. Check for ticks
at night if in wooded areas.
Use appropriate safety equipment such as bike helmets, padding,
shin guards and life vests (if around water.)
Wear bright, reflective clothing for nighttime activities.
Carry a basic first aid kit with a flashlight.
For overnight activities or trips, tell a neighbor where you are
going, the location of the trails and when you expect to return.
Always carry a cell phone with a charged battery.
Walkie-talkies are handy for hiking and orienteering.
Stay hydrated. Water is best if the activity will last an hour or
less. For activities lasting over an hour, try to drink a beverage
with sugar or carbohydrates such as a sports drink. Before the activity,
drink until no longer thirsty plus another 8-12 ounces. During the
activity, drink 6 to 8 ounces every 20 minutes, even if you are
not thirsty during scheduled breaks. Once you feel thirsty, you
are already mildly dehydrated.
Monitor the weather conditions the day before and the day of the
activity. If there are thunderstorms in the area or you see lightning
and thunder within 30 seconds, seek shelter such as a metal car,
building or provided storm shelter. NEVER hide under a tree or use
a phone with a wire. If you are caught in an open field with lightning,
crouch or squat down on the balls of your feet to get low and to
minimize your contact with the ground. Place your hands over your
Childrens Healthcare of Atlanta, one of the leading pediatric
healthcare systems in the country, is a not-for-profit organization
that benefits from the generous philanthropic and volunteer support
of our community. Operating three hospitals with more than half
a million patient visits annually, Childrens is recognized
for excellence in cancer, cardiac, neonatal, orthopaedic and transplant
services, as well as many other pediatric specialties. To learn
more about Childrens Healthcare of Atlanta, visit our Web
site at www.choa.org or call 404-250-KIDS.