Create Your Own Fitness Course!

"You don’t need to go out and buy exercise equipment, you just need to get kids moving,” says Chrissy Cummings, a physical therapist in the Outpatient Physical Therapy Department at Banner Thunderbird Medical Center in Glendale. After all, the American College of Sports Medicine says children should be active at least 60 minutes a day, she says, and that kind of activity benefits both mind and body. 
“When you get their bodies moving, their brains turn on and their blood gets flowing,” she says, “and when kids get their energy ‘out’, they perform better in school.” 
You can easily create an indoor or outdoor course by just looking around the house or garage for items that can serve as obstacles or features, such as: 
  • SMALL CONES (perhaps from that forgotten soccer set) to weave around 
  • HULA-STYLE HOOPS to lay on the ground and use as “tires” to step into 
  • PVC-TYPE PIPES, or even a broom, to lay across chairs so that kids can limbo or crawl under them while on their elbows, military style 
In between each activity, have young competitors execute cool moves like animal walks, jumping jacks, frog jumps, running (in place or around the yard) or, if possible, bike riding. All these movements help build strength and coordination but, just as important, they’re fun, too. And at-home physical activity is more necessary than ever before, Cummings adds, since there tend to be fewer physical education classes in schools and society is fixated on technology. 
“We’re not giving children the ability to develop their bodies,” says Cummings, who notes many of the clinic’s referrals for children are related to concerns about lack of coordination and strength. 
A few more of her tips for successful, at-home exercise activities include: 
  • OFFERING KIDS A CHOICE, especially since they thrive on variety. For example, do a fitness course one week and a “walk-a-thon” the next, she says. Have a goal of, say, 12,000 steps and buy everyone in the family a pedometer to track their own steps. 
  • CHANGING THE ENVIRONMENT by exercising indoors or outdoors or at the neighborhood park. 
  • FEATURING A THEME, like the Olympics or a superheroes competition, when running a fitness course. 
  • TURNING ON THE TV — occasionally, that is. Find a fitness-oriented channel and follow along, or put on the Wii Fit and let everyone have at it.
“Make it competitive,” Cummings says. “They want to beat you!”
Learn more about our Fit Kid program at Banner Health, search: Fit Kid.

Fit Kid Festival Comes to the West Valley in April

Need some fresh new ideas to get the kids off the couch? Want to show them how easy it is to be active, healthy and fit? 
West Valley families are invited to the Banner Children’s Fit Kid Festival, a free event where youngsters of all ages can learn about the importance of fitness through interactive displays and cool exhibits designed to teach them about staying active and safe — all while having fun at the same time! Families that pre-register for the event will be entered into a drawing for exciting prizes. 
The festival runs from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, April 6 at Westgate City Center, 6770 N. Sunrise Blvd., in Glendale. 
For more information, call 623-385-7502. 

Zaharis Elementary Running Club Wins Fit Kid Campus Challenge

Congratulations to everyone at James K. Zaharis Elementary School in Mesa! The school’s 50-member running club recently entered and won the Cardon Children Medical Center’s Fit Kid Campus Challenge, a contest designed to promote healthy living and wellness. The tasty prize? A school garden, courtesy of Whole Foods Market, which sponsors the contest along with News-Talk 92.3 KTAR and 98.7 The Peak. 
Zaharis faculty, staff and students show their support for fitness not just through the running club, which meets twice a week to run a mile around the school, but also through other activities, including an annual Turkey Trot and last year’s appearance on “LIVE with Regis and Kelly.” During the segment, the school hosted ultra-marathoner Dean Karnazes for “Run Across America,” and Zaharis principal Mike Oliver even joined Karnazes and ran 50 miles! Way to go, Zaharis Elementary!