Unlike Slyde the Playground Hound, our winter coat doesn’t come naturally. With the change of season and colder weather, we all tend to spend more time indoors. Slyde the Playground Hound encourages children to play outdoors everyday. It is essential to a healthy, balanced lifestyle.
What can grown-ups do to enourage outdoor activity, even when it's brrr . . . cold outside? Today's Essential Slyde Newsletter is about growing a healthy winter-time attitude at the playground. Enjoy!
Good things and sometimes not-so-good things often come in two’s. Let’s start with the not-so-good things.
Here are two “buzz words” we hear a lot these days, childhood obesity. Of the over 525 listings in The Play & Playground Encyclopedia, a web-based business that gathers information about all play and playground-related topics, 60 of them (over 10%) contain messages about the rising concern of childhood obesity in our nation. www.pgpedia.com.
Currently, children in the United States spend a whopping 7.5 hours each day participating in sedentary media-based activities.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend 60 minutes of daily physical activity for children and adolescents. However, only 4% of our schools provide for physical education or its equivalent.
In 1980, approximately 7% of our children were obese. In 2008, it was estimated that 18% of our children are considered obese. Ninty percent of families with an obese child do not seek help.
With statistics like those above, it may be hard to accept that there is a simple solution, and believe it or not, it is really only a two-step process.
First, provide and eat better quality food. Watch http://theweightofthenation.hbo.com.
And second, provide a place for children to play and then encourage its use. Here are two reasons why going to a playground is good for you:
1. Going to a public playground is free! Nearly every school and every neighborhood has a playground. Playgrounds have been recognized by states, counties, and municipalities as being of such great value to a community that our municiple tax dollars pay for them. If your community DOES NOT have a playground accessible to your family or the children you serve, then help build one. A great resource for finding information about playgrounds is The Play & Playground News Center at www.playgroundprofessionals.com
2. Going to the playground encourages you to unplug and be outside with your kids. Nearly every park and recreation department has established an “unplug and get outside” initiative to encourage families to turn off the computer, the Nintento™, the I-Phone™, the TV, and other electronics and spend time with loved ones outdoors instead. The First Lady, Michelle Obama established the Let’s Move Outside program which is being implemented at local levels everywhere. Simply type in a few key words like your state’s name, get outside, un-plug to find ways to build healthy habits. http://www.pgpedia.com/l/let%E2%80%99s-move-outside
OTHER STUFF IN THIS ISSUE
- Healthy Habits Help Children Adapt to Cold Weather
- Our FREE downloads are two indoor activities for kids to do while waiting for a chance to get outside to play
- The Slyde Toon is about how two things don’t mix: storms and playgrounds
- It takes two to play safely. Our PLAY-BACKtells kids to always BUDDY-UP at the playground
Healthy Habits Help Children Adapt to Cold Weather
A body will naturally adapt to the chill of winter by shifting more blood flow to the interior organs and away from hands, feet, and face. That’s good news for your inner core, but no so good news for little fingers, toes and faces.
Children in your care may or may not have a grown-up that can coach them on how to listen to their bodies’ changing needs when cold weather strikes. Here are suggestions for acclimatizing to cold weather by changing up one’s daily routine with exercise, hygiene, and diet habits that can keep a body warm.
- Drink lots of water. This can be as simple as lining up at the drinking fountain before or after recess, allowing children to have access to warm drinks throughout the day, or encouraging student to have a water bottle at their desk.
- Be active. Shorter days and less sunlight can make us all feel lethargic. Fight the winter-time blues by getting outdoors every day without fail. Engage in winter sports like cross-country skiing. Set up a winter-time challenge for laps around the school or walk-to-school days each week.
- Eat fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin D. Adding “sunlight” in the form of vitamin D doesn’t replace the real thing, but is something grown-ups can be aware of by providing children with foods such as mushrooms, salmon, and eggs.
- Wear protective clothing that is layered. To minimize heat loss while outside on cold days keep your ankles, head, wrists and hands covered. Don’t let your feet get wet. Encourage children to keep an extra pair of socks and shoes, boots, or slippers in the classroom, so they can switch out of wet shoes or boots as needed.
- Get plenty of rest. Our bodies respond to longer periods of dark and less sunlight naturally, resulting in the need for more sleep during the winter months. The levels of serotonin (a neurotransmitter in the brain) decrease during long periods of dark and the levels of melatonin (the neurotransmitter in the brain that encourages the body to sleep) increase. By following the guidelines above you can keep the levels of both hormones in balance.