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“Oh no, my kids are home for 2 weeks and I have no idea what to do with them and all their energy!”  First…..breathe.  Second….prepare for fun instead of opting to park them in front of a screen.  Children can be destructive when cooped up without the opportunity to burn-off energy.  On the other hand,  kids thrive when they have structured activities that allow them to do so.  If we get snow, great…let them sled to wear themselves out.  If no snow, try some of these ideas.

Set up an indoor obstacle courseindoor-obstacle-course

Too cold to go outside?  Manage your time and children’s energy with an obstacle course!  It can be simple or complex, so use whatever resources you have.  Try this:

  • Crab walk through the kitchen (face up, on hands and feet)
  • Run 3 times around the dining room table
  • Crawl through the tunnel (make one with some chairs and a bed sheet or under the table)
  • Climb over the back of the couch
  • Belly-crawl under the coffee table
  • Run down the hall, touch the wall, bear crawl back (face down, on hands and feet)
  • Do a jumping –jack for each letter of your last name while yelling out each letter

Think this won’t work with your kids?  Tell them you are timing and videoing them.  It’s a game changer!  Then, offer “Who thinks they can make their own course?” and watch them go while you go pour a glass of….water.

Puddle stomp in Starkey Park puddle-jump

What if it’s 45 degrees and rainy?  For a kid, there is nothing like being outside with permission to get muddy.  Slap on your rain boots, expendable articles of clothing, and go on a puddle hunt.  Make sure to take a trash bag for clothes or to cover car seats afterwards, and just plan on baths when you get home.

Bikes work in the cold too

My kids love having their bikes out whenever possible so don’t pack them away.  The local rail trails are fairly well protected from the wind since they have those great high walls on each side.  Also consider packing up the bikes, grabbing a set of orange cones (available at Akard’s True Value and Dick’s), and heading to a church parking lot or public tennis court.  Pick the side of the building with the least wind (and traffic), and set up a course to ride through with your cones.  Make sure you wear your helmets.

Family Olympics

You have several days to be with your kids so develop a Family Olympics that has several events one day, or spread it out over the entire break.  Use some of the ideas above, create some of your own, and make it indoor and outdoor.  You can even get other kids and families involved.

Other Ideas

  • Most churches have a “big room” that could be a great place for kids to run around and blow off some steam. Get permission.
  • Local indoor climbing at  Hoosier Heights
  • Ice skating in Indy
  • Bounce around at Monkey Joe’s or Sky Zone.

Christmas Break isn’t just a break from school, but a unique time where you can have a surge of wonderful family time.  With a little planning, patience, and perspective, your children will have the break they need from school, get plenty of exercise, and head back to school with more to talk about than any year before.  Afterwards, you may just find your house to be a little too quiet for you usual liking.

Knee Health 101

December 7, 2016

Knees like many of your body parts are rarely appreciated when they’re working great, but if they are hurting or under-performing they will define your day or even life.  Most of us at some point will have some level of new discomfort so let’s take a closer look at those amazing joints to see how best to care for them.

The design and partsknee-joint

A truly remarkable joint, knees are made unlike any other joint in the body.  They have all the similar parts:  bones (the hard stuff), ligaments (attach bone to bone), tendons (attach muscle to bone), cartilage and fluid sacs (shock absorbers and lubricant).  What’s unique is the presence of the knee cap which creates an advanced lever capable of producing more force than without it.  This design tells us the knee is made to hinge with strength and when healthy can produce tremendous force!

Training healthy knees

Healthy knees respond quickly to training that is progressive and supported with appropriate rest.  A progressive program, whether focusing on strength, power, or endurance, should start slow and increase in intensity over time.  This program must also include rest days so the knee tissue can adapt and repair.  For example a new runner with healthy knees should begin by running a short distance slowly on day 1, then rest on day 2.  If there is no pain, he/she can run further or faster on day 3.  Overtime, this runner’s knees should be capable of running multiple days in a row without needing a rest day.   The same model can be followed for strength training.knees

“I’m active and have new knee pain”

You’ve been smart about your training but have developed some knee pain.  Don’t ignore it and push through.  Assess it and move forward wisely by asking “How painful is it?”

On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being most painful…

  1. if 1-2, then do a much lighter workout and see how it feels.
  2. if 3-5, then take a few days off and see if it sticks around.
  3. if 5-10, consult your physician.

Improving unhealthy knees

Your knees hurt and you want them to get better.  I am not a doctor but I know 3 proven activities you can do TODAY to help your knees be less painful.

  1. Move them! When it comes to the body “motion is lotion” because movement increases blood flow bringing with it heat and nutrients for health.  Sit on the edge of your bed and straighten your knee several times.  You may even try squatting to the bed after paying specific attention to reaching back with your hips and sitting all the way down on the bed each time.
  2. Lose weight! Even healthy knees feel bad with too much weight on them.  Begin cleaning up your nutrition today.  Start by increasing your colorful veggies and decreasing your processed foods.  You can do it and your knees will better!
  3. Hydrate! Your joints depend on water to stay fluids so drink it and decrease the soda, salt, and caffeine.

Your knees are an integral part of your life.  Please care for them wisely to keep them healthy and they will serve you well for a long time!