How To Keep Kids Fit Brooklyn Style


When I was a kid all we needed to stay fit is a stoop and a ball.


Lucky for us we had a few more things, like a rope to play tug-of-war.


And touch football in the streets was popular.


And we loved jumping rope.


Or playing with hula hoops.


Girls also played softball & boys were in little leagues. My team was The Monkeys.  haha


We all held hands & sang Ring Around the Rosy and London Bridge Is Falling Down.

Children playing in the park

And there was the horse shoe toss game.


In gym class one kid spotted another one for sit-ups.

Kids doing sit ups

And we did jumping jacks.  Not in boots.  Must have forgotten gym clothes. Happens.


Another after school favorite activity –rollerskating.


We didn’t even wear helmets.  And our skates looked more like this.


We played basketball in the streets.  Darn cars got in our way. We’d make them wait.


We also loved stickball.  We usually fashioned one out of an old broom.


We jumped over fire hydrants. Sometimes, all them on the block. One. After. Another.


And used chalk for hop scotch and other creative games that kept us moving.


Somebody’s Mom always kept an eye to make sure we didn’t get hit by a car.


As if they could do anything but scream. They never bugged us dinner.


Then, we heard some serious yelling to get inside.  NOW!


Then, it was back to playing outdoors. One kid had a pool. Two words. Marco. POLO!


We also walked around the neighborhood a lot.  No need to make a play date.


We played Hide n’ Go Seek or “Tag, you’re it!” and ran around laughing a lot.


Sometimes, our destination was nearby Dyker Heights Park so we could ride swings.


As our Dads played Bocci (like outdoor bowling for grown Italian men) there…


We sauntered to the adjacent golf course & got in trouble chasing & collecting golf balls.


Kids run REAL fast when men waving golf clubs chase them.  What a workout!


We also played handball after getting chased off the golf course.


Or rode our bikes.


We were always moving.



Even while indoors, we played games that had us moving, like TWISTER.


Or we danced to records imitating dancers on American Bandstand and Soul Train.



It all meant we burned off enough energy to  STOP EVERYTHING for Mr. Softie.


Then, kids sprinted downstairs or upstairs for money. There was also Danny,


Danny, the ice cream man. But, we weren’t obese because we weren’t sedentary.


No iPADS, no iPHONES, no sitting on the couch all day for us.  When school was done, we were outside playing and didn’t go back inside until weheard the screams for dinner.

Since we got out of school at 3 p.m. and dinner wasn’t usually until 7 p.m. we got a full
4-hours of physical activity and that didn’t include gym class at school.

Kids today look more like this.


Or this when they get home from school.


A study recently published in Experimental Physiology examined the effects of prolonged sitting (three continuous hours) on girls ages 9 to 12.

One group was asked to sit still, either watching a movie or playing video games for three hours, while another group exercised lightly at the beginning of each hour before sitting again.

At the end of the experiment, researchers found the group that sat still for the entire three hours experienced a major decrease in vascular function.

That 33 percent decrease in function means  the leg arteries were no longer working as well as they should.  In adults, this very thing—over time—has been linked to increased risk of developing heart disease. 

The bottom line is kids suffer from being sedentary just like adults.

When it comes to kid’s fitness it doesn’t cost much to keep them active. So take a note of all the things we did to stay fit while we were kids in Brooklyn to spark a few ideas.

A stick from an old broom, Spaulding ball, hula hoop, a jump rope, a handball, a waffle bat & ball, chalk, radio, roller skates, a rope for tug-of-war, TWISTER game, softball, basketball net, basketball, horseshoe toss –are all things still available and cheap.

Socializing in real life is just as important for kids as it is for adults.

Some of the things we did didn’t cost a penny.  Jumping jacks, dancing, running, walking, swimming and jumping hydrants were all free.  Limit gadget and TV viewing.  Encourage creativity when it comes to keeping them moving while having fun, even while indoors.


Healthy kids are happy kids that will grow up with healthy habits.



  1. Set aside an hour a day for exercise. Make sure your kids know it’s exercise time. Be creative. You don’t even need to go outdoors. Some suggestions after you tell them to start by stretching.

A. Have them pick their favorite music. Crank up the music to dance up a storm.

B. Challenges as in who can do more jumping jacks

C. Jog in place

D. Get a hola-hoop or jump rope

E. Write compliments on pieces of paper and hide them around the house. Have the kids run around to find them. Winner gets a prize.

The idea is to keep them engaged, having fun and moving. If you can go for a walk outside, do that. Walking daily is a great lifelong habit.


Healthy habits start young. Meals are an important time for family to catch up on what’s going on in each other’s lives and in the world. It’s all a great time to serve healthy foods. Again, get creative in order for them to eat healthy.

  1. If you’re too rushed in the morning to make breakfast, prepare hard-boiled eggs the night before. Tell your kids they’re in the refrigerator for breakfast. It’s a better option than sugar loaded cereals.

2. Take your kids grocery shopping with you and have them pick items out of the fruits and vegetables section. Keep a large bowl of grab-and-go fruit handy. Bananas, tangerines, peaches, plums –ask your kids what their favorites are and keep them on hand.

3. Avoid soda, sugary drinks and sugary items. Try to keep your pantry stocked with healthy snacks like almonds (sliced ones mixed with sunflower seeds without shells) in a bowl or walnuts, blueberries or look for crackers made of veggies or grain rice cakes if they prefer chips. Baby carrots with hummus dip is another good crunching choice. Switch ice cream with greek yogurt and berries on top.

4. Keep kids hydrated with water. If they don’t like the taste of water look for flavors to add that don’t contain lots of sugar.

5. Avoid Fast Food. It doesn’t take much time to go the grocery store once and plan a week of healthy meals for kids in advance. Get creative with healthy desserts or treats.

You can also visit a Nutritionist on-line or through your Physician. TeleHealth is big right now, so there’s no reason you can’t do so virtually or do a search on-line for more helpful tips. Make sure they’re not ads for bad foods in disguise. Read labels.

Sleep is also important to kid’s health, so you want to make a cut off time for screen usage, albeit TV, phone or games.

Again, healthy habits start young and if they can develop them early, you can save them a lifetime of being at higher risk for disease or chronic illness.


Stay healthy!

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