How To Keep Kids Fit Brooklyn Style

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

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

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And touch football in the streets was popular.

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And we loved jumping rope.

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Or playing with hula hoops.

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

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

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And there was the horse shoe toss game.

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

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

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Another after school favorite activity –rollerskating.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Or rode our bikes.

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We were always moving.

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

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Or this when they get home from school.

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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.

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

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Stay healthy!

maria.dorfner@yahoo.com

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5 Ways To Help Teens & Kids Cope Post Trauma

Today’s teens and kids are exposed to unpredictable adult-like stressors. 

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I spoke with Kate E. Eshleman, Psy.D., | Pediatric Psychologist| Pediatric Behavioral Health| Children’s Hospital, at Cleveland Clinic and contributing expert to MEDCRUNCH.

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She offers advice on how to help children and teens cope post trauma. 

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1. How can parents help children and teens after a traumatic event  , albeit a natural disaster or death?

There are many ways parents can help their children and teens cope. It is important for parents to make themselves available to their children, such that the kids can approach their parents if they are having any difficulties. It is appropriate for parents to check in and ask how their children are doing, but it is also important to be aware that not all children will want to talk or ask questions, and parents can take cues from their kids.

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If parents are observing that their children seem upset but are not wanting to discuss, they can try and engage them in distracting activities such as a family movie night, going on an outing (i.e., dinner or a fun activity), or every day errands such as to the grocery, anything to assist in getting the children’s minds off of what is bothering them.

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2. Does maintaining daily routines help, such as sitting down to dinner nightly?

Maintaining a routine is definitely important, as it assists in keeping some normalcy, even if things do not seem “normal.” Continuing to have the same expectation of the children’s behavior and activity is important, though if there are significant things going on, it may be okay to have a little more flexibility around those routines. Nightly, or at least regular, dinners are always important. This is a great opportunity to ask your children questions and/ or allow them to discuss their day. This will also be a good time for parents to observe/ assess for any changes in their children’s mood or behavior.

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3. What questions should parents ask children who seem withdrawn or anxious?

There are not necessarily specific questions that should be asked, but rather very general questions such as “how was your day?” or “anything on your mind?” More important than the specific question, is parents’ inquiring into how the child is doing, showing that they care and are interested in what the child is thinking/ feeling, and providing the opportunity for the child to discuss if (s)he is interested.

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 4. What healthy habits help? Should anything be increased/decreased during highly stressful times?

Healthy habits include eating well, getting rest, and being physically active. While these are relatively simple concepts, they are not always easy to implement, and can often be the first to go when times become busy and stressful. It may be helpful to prioritize what needs to be done and by when, and making sure to schedule in the healthy activities (i.e., finding a time to go to the grocery so there is food in the house, avoiding the need to stop and grab fast food on the way home, or planning to start a homework project on the weekend, so a child is not up late the night(s) before it is due). It is also important to maintain fun and enjoyable activities during stressful time, to provide a break from the stressors and an opportunity to relax and enjoy one’s self.

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5. Should parents share their own fears with kids or not?

 This one probably depends on several things. As a general rule of thumb, children should not have to worry about adult issues, as they are plenty busy worrying about kids’ issues. If it can be avoided, it is recommended that parents not openly discuss their concerns with or in front of the children. It is also important to note that children, beginning from an early age, take their cues from their parents, so even if parents are not verbalizing their thoughts and concerns, the children may be aware of what is going on, thus it is important for parents to monitor their own behavior and reactions. This being said, it is important for parents to tell their children the truth in a developmentally appropriate way, so if there is something happening that is directly affecting the children, it will be important for children to have some awareness of those things.

 

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Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to those who lost loved ones in Oklahoma.

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Stay healthy & safe, everyone.

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Cleveland Clinic is ranked one of the top hospitals in America by U.S.News & World Report (2012). Visit them online at http://www.clevelandclinic.org for a complete listing of services, staff and locations.

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