As featured in Spectrum Life Magazine Winter 2019 Issue
Winter is no longer coming; it is finally here! The holiday season is in full swing and your child is about to home 24/7 with the schools taking a short hiatus. Changes in the weather and the daily routine may cause some increased anxiety and stress for everyone in the family, which is why it is even more important than ever to get your body moving!
This may seem like to your child the best opportunity to binge on playing Fortnite, or finally creating their own YouTube channel, it is important to get them moving. Exercise has been shown to help with self-regulation and help reduce stress, as well as the symptoms of anxiety and depression. The best way to get your child moving is by setting the example and join them. Chances are that they are more likely to follow your lead.
Here are five ideas to increase your family’s activity level and decrease the stress of the holiday season.
Add a twist to your holiday traditions – Each family has their own traditions during the holiday season. Whatever yours are, try to add an active twist to it. Does your family decorate a Christmas tree? Well, where do you buy your tree? Stores have made it convenient for you by offering trees for sale outside, similar to pumpkins in October. Try going to a u-cut tree farm this season. Walk around the farm with your family trying to find the “perfect” tree. Not only is it a great way to bond and create memories, but it will also get the entire family active.
Make the TV your workout partner – It may seem like a constant battle to limit your child’s screen time, especially when they’re on winter break. I know that I used to LOVE the winter breaks from school because that meant I could FINALLY play the newest Madden football game and get through an entire season (or two) all while lounging in my favorite bean bag chair. Replace that bean bag chair with that exercise bike from the garage. (If you don’t have an exercise bike, they can be found on Craigslist for under $100). Incentivize more screen time for riding the bike while they play.
Is your child not the video game type? No problem. You can add exercise breaks to any activity. Are they glued to the TV? Join them during the commercials for exercise time. Do they love reading a good book? Either agree on a page limit or set a timer before taking a quick exercise break.
The exercises don’t have to be complicated. Do simple bodyweight exercises that will increase their heart rate or walk up the stairs of your hallway or apartment complex. Remember, kids are often more inclined to do the exercises with you, instead of by themselves.
Dude, where’s my car? – Raise your hand if you scour the parking lot to find the closest spot when going to the grocery store or mall? Ok, put your hand down. We are all guilty of this. Make an attempt to park in the back of the parking lot to increase the distance that you must walk to go shopping. And keep an umbrella in your car to limit your excuse of walking due to the rain.
Sticker, please! – One thing that we’ve learned over the years at Specialty Athletic Training is that our clients LOVE stickers. We use a sticker chart at our Vancouver location and now we can’t imagine not having one. It is something that you can easily implement at home as well. Assign different stickers for different activities and then have a reward when a certain number of stickers has been reached. Did you walk for 30 minutes looking a Christmas lights? Green sticker. Did you and your child do exercises in between episodes of Stranger Things? Blue stickers for both of you. You get the idea. You can assign stickers and rewards however you want, but this should be a fun (and visual) way for the family to track their increased activity. Keep it fun and keep each other motivated!
Treat yo’ self – The holiday season can easily leave us feeling drained and our cups empty. Make sure to take the time to take care of yourself and refill your cup when needed. Try and take a nightly bubble bath, schedule that mani/pedi, or simply wake up 5-10 minutes earlier in the morning and meditate. Best way to take care of others is to take care of yourself. Plan time to get out of the holiday chaos and schedule in some “me” time.
About the Author
Ryan Lockard, CSCS, CSPS is the founder and head trainer of Specialty Athletic Training and is accredited by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and a Certified Special Populations Specialist. He is a member of the board of directors for the Autism Society of America and the Central Oregon Disability Support Network.