As featured in Spectrum Life Magazine's Summer 2018 Issue
Question: My tween daughter is sedentary and does not like to play outside in the summer due to allergies and fear of bugs. She is an only child and tends to play on her own and read a lot of books. We can't afford a gym or swim club membership. What ways can I motivate her to stay active so that she'll want to exercise and not just see mom as being on her case?
Answer: This is a common question from parents as summertime approaches. School provides that consistent daily structure and parents typically scramble finding camps and other activities to fill their children’s day. However, many children that we see are like your daughter and enjoy being inside and independent for a variety of reasons. That doesn’t mean that they can’t be active, but parents may have to play a more critical role in providing that opportunity for activity and exercise. Here are some things that you can do to get your tween to be active without coming off as a nagging parent.
First, you must show your tween that physical activity is important to YOU and make it a priority. It is hard for them to feel that exercise is important if they don’t see you being active. Their response to your suggestion of getting active could be, “But you never exercise. Why should I?” Lead by example and they are more likely to follow.
Make exercise a part of your morning routine. Not only is this a great way to start your day, but it also provides bonding time with your daughter by doing it together. There are several exercises that you can do at home that require zero equipment. You can look up different programs on YouTube and find a video that both you and your daughter enjoy. Use the YouTube research and exercise to bond with your daughter and enjoy each other’s company.
Looking for ways to increase her activity outside of the house? Use her interests to help guide family outings. Does she need a new book? Take her to a bookstore, like Powell’s in downtown Portland. Between walking from your car to the store after you park and the stairs in the store itself, you’re bound to get some good exercise. Or explore the awesome exhibits at the museum that is great for all ages, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI).
Activity level is a concern for many families during the summertime. Start the conversation now with your child and create a plan that works for you. Whether that is exercising together in the morning or planning family activities throughout the summer month, each child and family will be different. Create an open dialogue with your tween, find out their interests and plan accordingly. Use exercise to bond with your child and prevent being the nagging parent.
Question: Our family has trouble sleeping during the summer, especially when it's hot. We've heard that exercise might be able to help. Is this true and if so, are there optimal times of the day or evening to exercise to help improve sleep patterns? How often do you need to keep the pattern?
Answer: Yes, exercise will help you sleep. According to a poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, people that exercise reported getting better quality of sleep compared to those who didn’t. The poll also found that exercising any time of the day will enhance the quality of your sleep. There have also been a lot of studies done on improving the quality of sleep in general. Here are four tips to help you fall asleep faster and sleep better.
1) Create a nighttime routine – Growing up, we have a set bedtime routine as children. We take a bath (or shower), brush our teeth, and then lay in bed as we are read a story from our parents. This routine prepares your body for sleep. We tend to get away from having our nighttime routine as we get older. There are studies that show that taking a shower or bath before bed also helps you fall asleep. Try adding a shower or bath to your nightly activities before heading to bed.
2) Wash your sheets – This may seem like an obvious tip, but when was the last time that you washed your sheets on your bed? Sheets should be washed at least once a week in order to maximize your quality of sleep.
3) Open a window – Many of us have a tendency of sleeping with our bedroom windows closed to keep the heat inside, but it decreases the oxygen levels. Crack open a window or two and have a better night’s sleep.
4) Ditch the cell phone – Does your cell phone act as your alarm clock and sit next to your bed at night? Get it out of there and buy an alarm clock. The blue light that your screen emits can actually shift your circadian rhythm by suppressing your body’s melatonin. The problem might not be falling asleep, but if you wake up in the middle of the night and check what time it is on your cell phone, you become exposed to the blue light. Then as you fall into the rabbit hole of checking your social media accounts, emails, and other non-essential items at 2:30 am, you have exposed yourself to enough blue light to reset your melatonin levels and then you have a hard time falling back asleep. Create a “No Cell Phone” rule for your bedroom and invest in an alarm clock.
About the Author
Ryan Lockard, CSCS is the head trainer and founder of Specialty Athletic Training. He is President of the Autism Society of Oregon's Board of Directors and is accredited by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. Ryan has worked with individuals with special needs since 2007 and has over 10,000 hours of 1:1 instruction working with individuals that have various special needs.