Ensure sports safety this summer

As the weather gets warmer, kids are eager to play outside. Help protect your children with these helpful tips.

What you use

  • Wear a helmet if you are moving faster than you can run (scooters, skateboards, bikes and rollerblades). Certain sports require styles of helmets that meet sport-specific risks.
  • Wear wrist guards with any skating activity.
  • Wear protective eyewear with any racquet or paintball activity.
  • Wear a mouth guard for sports including football, martial arts, volleyball, soccer and skateboarding.

Learn more about bicycling, in-line skating and skateboarding safety and injury prevention tips here. You can buy safety helmets at the Emergency Department/Trauma Center at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin for $10 to $15. Care partners will size and fit the helmet for your child. No appointment is necessary. Get directions here.

What you drink

Drinking plenty of water is especially important in hot weather. It can prevent cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends these guidelines for proper fluid intake:

  • Drink 16 ounces of fluid two hours before exercise.
  • On warmer days, drink an additional 8 to 16 ounces of fluid 30 to 60 minutes before exercise.
  • Drink fluids regularly during exercise.

Where you play

  • Ensure safe surroundings from traffic or other people.
  • Check for clear, clean and safe areas (free of glass or debris).
  • Wear proper sun protection when you are outside, even on cloudy days (protective clothing, hats, long sleeves and sunscreen of at least 15 SPF).

For more information about youth sports safety, visit the National Youth Sports Safety Foundation website.

~ Stacy Stolzman, MPT, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin

Stay safe while exercising at home

Home can be a great place for families to exercise together – especially when the clouds and rain make it difficult to get outside. However, the Consumer Product Safety Commission says more than 25,000 kids are injured by home exercise equipment every year. It is important for families to learn how to use home exercise equipment safely.

Treadmills
Treadmills are a top safety hazard. Children are fascinated by treadmills and want to imitate their parents by walking on them. On a moving treadmill, children can slip and fall, get clothing or hair caught in the belt or sustain burns from the moving belt.

Children younger than 10 should not use a treadmill. Children older than 10 should be watched closely while using a treadmill. When not in use, the activation key should be placed out of reach and the treadmill should be unplugged. If possible, the room where the treadmill is located should be locked.

Weightlifting equipment
Weightlifting equipment also can put children at risk for injury through misuse. Until children are preteens, they should use only body weight or resistance bands for strength training. Children do not have the understanding of their limits that is required for controlled weight training. This can lead to overuse or trauma injuries. A child also can easily get a hand caught in the pulleys of weight equipment.

To prevent weightlifting injuries, place weights in a locked cabinet or room so children do not have access to them. Instruct preteens and teens in proper weight training techniques. Parents should seek information through the school gym teacher, a fitness instructor or athletic trainer.

Other safety tips
In general, parents should not wear headphones while exercising to be more aware of the environment. This can help prevent children from sneaking up and getting hands caught in pedaling bicycles, treadmill belts or plates of weight-training equipment. Parents also should explain that exercise equipment is for adults only.

~ Stacy Stolzman, MPT, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin

Get movin’ with fun, family games

While snow and ice offer fun winter activities such as sledding and ice skating, many families prefer to stay inside. Fortunately, new family games are available to keep families moving during the cold months – and warm months – and on rainy days too!

Here are a few games for your kids to try:

  • Twister Hopscotch allows kids to design their own hopscotch patterns using durable, non-slip rings. The game is designed for one or more players, ages six and older.
  • IPlay Super Skipper features two telescoping, rotating poles that spin at different speeds. The Super Skipper is for one player, ages three and older.
  • Hyper Dash is an electronic target-tagging racecourse with fun electronic commands set to a timer. The game is designed for one to eight players, ages six and older.
  • DanceMaker is an electronic dance mat that encourages kids to step on light-up stars as they dance to one of three preprogrammed songs. DanceMaker is designed for one player, ages five and older.
  • Twister Moves lets kids use their Twister mats and follow the dance moves that DJ Ray and Diamond J call out. The game is for up to two players, ages eight and older.
  • Cosmic Catch is the ball that remembers your throws. When the ball calls out the commands, you have to toss it to a friend wearing the correctly colored wristband. This activity is for two to six players, ages seven and older.
  • Jump Dancer is a battery-operated skip rope toy that makes it possible for everyone to jump without having to hold the rope. It offers two speed settings and three time settings to allow kids to make up their own skipping and jumping games. Designed for children ages six and older.
  • Cranium Hullabaloo is a high-energy game that invites kids to bounce, twist, spin, high-five and dance to music and fun sounds, moving from game pad to pad. This game is for quick-thinkers, ages four and older.

These games allow families to interact while raising heart rates. Most of these games can push participants to moderate levels of physical activity. An increased heart rate, increased respiratory rate and sweating are excellent indicators of the level of physical activity exerted. Family games can be a great place to start physical activity or add variety to the routine.

Leave a comment! What are some games you use to get your family moving?

~ Stacy Stolzman, MPT, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin

Make your exercise routine family-fun

According to the National Children and Youth Fitness Study, at least half of children do not participate in physical activity that promotes long-term health. Exercise is an important part of keeping kids healthy. The best way for your child to build a healthy lifestyle is for your whole family to get involved. The following exercise guidelines can help your family plan activities.

Light intensity aerobic activities for 30 minutes a day can begin to help a child’s body. These activities include walking, climbing stairs, household chores, noncompetitive sports and dancing.

Moderate intensity aerobic activities for 30 to 60 minutes a day begin to push kids and their parents to increase heart and breathing rates and get sweaty.  Rollerblading, hiking, yard work and bike riding are family-friendly activities.

Vigorous intensity aerobic activities done three or four times a week for 30 to 60 minutes are the best ways to improve your fitness level. Aerobic activities challenge kids and parents to get their hearts pumping. These types of activities include running, swimming, cross-country skiing, jumping rope, flag football, soccer and tag games.

Bone strengthening activities (jumping jacks, playing tag and dancing) and muscle strengthening activities (sit-ups, push-ups and playground equipment climbing) should be completed at least three times a week.

Benefits of physical activities include improved flexibility, strong muscles and bones, weight loss and increased energy levels. For kids, physical activity can be a great break between the busy school day and afterschool homework. Their focus on homework and projects will be better after completing physical activity.  It is recommended that daily physical activity be completed before any screen time is allowed.

Here are some ideas for adding a physical activity routine to your family schedule:
•    Make time to go to the playground.
•    Have a scavenger hunt during a walk.
•    Track your distance on a bike ride or walk. Try to beat it each time.
•    Look for animals during a hike.
•    Make an obstacle course in your backyard.
•    Check your local newspaper for community activities and events.

Let us know what fun things you do to make physical activity more enjoyable for your family. Leave a comment below!

~ Stacy Stolzman, MPT, physical therapist, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin

If you enjoyed this blog, you may want to read Get Moving!

Get your groove on!

How do you get everyone in a family exercising together regularly? Busy schedules, varying ages of family members and weather all can be barriers to getting enough physical activity for the day. Exercise needs to be easy to access and enjoyable for everyone in the family. One of the best ways to do this is dancing as a family.

It’s as simple as turning on the tunes and moving your body. Dancing improves balance and strengthens your muscles and bones. Getting your groove on increases confidence and energy levels, relieves stress, and helps you sleep better at night. Children love doing things as a family. They especially love seeing their parents acting silly.
…Continue reading →

Keep moving this winter

This February, use Olympic athletes as your motivation to move more.

Aerobic activity makes our hearts stronger and more efficient at pumping blood. Including year-round aerobic activity not only keeps our hearts healthy but our minds and bodies as well. Even during the cold winter months, it’s possible to exercise both indoors and outdoors.

As the temperatures continue to drop, it becomes less desirable to choose outdoor activities for exercise. With proper clothing, walking or running outside still is an option. Fun ways to stay active and get physical activity during the winter months include: …Continue reading →

Get your groove on

Video games are a popular part of American culture. Recently, video game systems have received a physical makeover. Instead of only exercising your thumbs, many games now encourage gamers of all ages to get up and get moving. Last year, a study at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse was undertaken to see if playing Wii™ Sports is physically beneficial (2008 July/August issue of ACE Fitness Matters).

The study concluded that playing Wii Sports burns approximately 70 percent of the calories burned if the sport actually was played. In addition, playing the game elicits approximately 50 percent of the maximum heart rate as compared to actually playing the sport. This study concluded that Wii games are much better for improving physical fitness than playing conventional video games and actually can improve health. Pretty cool! For those of you not familiar with these video games, here is some info on the most popular activity-focused ones:

…Continue reading →