Jun 26

Women are Out Running Men (let’s go boys!)

Competitive running was historically a heavily male dominated sport.  Think back to the first Olympics back in Greece.  Women were not allowed to participate at all in the games and married women were not even allowed to attend the games.

The first woman to run the Boston Marathon was Roberta Gibb and that wasn’t until 1966 and she wasn’t even supposed to be there.  Women were not officially allowed to run the race until as late as 1972! Roberta had to register for the event as Bobbi.  Keep in mind the race has been around since 1897.

For the majority of the 1970s, 80s, and 90s men outnumbered women in official running events.  However something changed between 2005 and 2012 and the number of women running events began to grow exponentially, with women now outnumbering men by nearly 2,000,000 in organized running events.

Women Taking Over Running

Below is an infographic depicting how women are taking over the sport of running!  Feel free to use this graphic on your site (the code to embed on your site is at the bottom of the post).

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So what do you think?  Do you think women will continue to outnumber men in races?

Sources:

  • http://www.runningusa.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=news.details&ArticleId=333
  • http://www.runningusa.org/state-of-sport-2013-part-III?returnTo=annual-reports
  • http://www.mizunousa.com/running/blog/the-planet-wave-why-women-are-better-marathoners-than-men/

 

Download this infographic.

Embed Our Infographic On Your Site!

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Jun 19

Playgrounds turned Ghost Towns (Why Don’t Kids Play Outside Anymore)

My workout today consisted of an 800m swim in my community pool and a short 8 mile bike ride around town.  Nothing too fancy, but during the entire time that I was out I could count the total number of kids that I saw outside playing on one hand.

In a recent study published by The Telegraph in April 2014 they found the following depressing information:

  • 1/4 of children spend less than 30 minutes playing outside PER WEEK
  • 80 per cent of parents admitted they have never taken their children star gazing or fishing
  • 60 per cent said there is now more for them to do indoors

Read the entire article HERE.

400 Acres of Parks and No Children

I live in a beautiful town in North Texas that maintains a total of 400 acres worth of parks including trails, nature preserves, pools, splash pads, and playgrounds. This number doesn’t even include the neighborhood parks and pools contained within the majority of the HOA communities within the city.

We live in a community of about 500 homes with an elementary school and playground and a community pool perfect for swimming.  We generally head over to the pool somewhere between 7:30 – 9:30am.

Here’s the kicker . . . we have only ever seen 1 other person in the pool with us.

During my 8 miles ride today I went through the largest park in town, past my neighborhood pool, through a green belt, and through 2 other neighborhood parks.  During this ride the number of children that I saw could literally be counted on one hand.  I did see several elderly couples walking or feeding the ducks.

So, Where are All the Children

Retro photo of Far west town

It is summer in Texas which means all the children are out of school but it also means temperatures are warm.  In North Texas the summer temperatures in June reach about 95 degrees in the early afternoon.  In the morning time the weather is only in the upper 70’s.  Getting out in the morning is the best time in this area to avoid the heat . . . so weather is a poor excuse for not being outside in the mornings.

There are approximately 30,000 children under the age of 18 in our town.  Where are they? They have parks, they have money, they have time, they have the weather . . . but they aren’t going outside.

“The inactivity—particularly of outside, large-muscle, physical activities—is being replaced by other things.  It’s not like kids who are inactive are sleeping all the time. But it’s a lot more sedentary activity, like watching TV or playing [on a] computer. That is a double whammy because not only are they not getting the large muscle activity that they used to get when they were outside playing all the time, they’re doing something else, and that’s a cultural thing, not just a physical thing.”

-William Kull, president of the Red Apple Foundation

This 2008 study found that not only were children spending less time outside but that there was also a change in culture occurring in our society inciting them to spend less time outside and more time on indoor activities.

Nature Deficit Disorder

Author Richard Luv has dedicated his career to the study of “research confirming that direct exposure to nature is essential for the physical and emotional health of children and adults”. You can find his book:“Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder” HERE.

“Within the space of a few decades, the way children understand and experience nature has changed radically. The polarity of the relationship has reversed. Today, kids are aware of the global threats to the environment—but their physical contact, their intimacy with nature, is fading. That’s exactly the opposite of how it was when I was a child.”

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So how do we get our kids back outside and prevent them falling victim to “Nature Deficit Disorder”? Three simple actions will make the difference and start the role getting our kids back outside and fill our parks once again.

  1. Example
  2. Mandates Unnecessary 
  3. Fun is Key

These suggestions come from a 2009 study published by Heartland.org where they studied the responses of 60,000 children ages to 6 – 17 regarding physical activity.  You can view the article here (this is where the quotes below come from).

Example

Parents can set an example for their children.  The researchers did not notice a decline in adult activity and thus suggest that parents should bring their kids along with them when they are outside:

“By instilling a love for outdoor recreation in youth, parents and role models not only help their children immediately but also set a long-term precedent for a healthy life.  The decrease in outdoor activity has accompanied an increase in obesity, ADHD, and depression. Outdoor recreation has been shown to improve achievements both in education and in health.”

 

Mandates Unnecessary

The researchers argue that government mandates will not work in improving or increasing outdoor activity.  While awareness campaigns can aid in increasing public knowledge of obesity and other associated outcomes of a sedentary lifestyle making a rule and expecting children to just fall in love with physical activity will not work.

“They think they’ll just make a rule and people will fall in line. That’s not the way it works. You have to motivate people, and that’s a tougher challenge.”

 

 Make it Fun

Introducing children to outdoor activities in a way that makes it fun will aid them in desiring to continue to go outside.  This is not the job of schools and should be done at home.  If schools mandate situps and jumping jacks (which aren’t fun for kids) than kids may stop wanting to be outside.  Instead try some of these fun outdoor games for kids or these pool games to help kids love playing in the pool.

Try simply taking your child on a nature walk, play rescue games or princess games with your kids.  Go outside and look at the stars.  Its not a science . . . its just being outside that counts.

“Kids are outside because it is fun, not necessarily because it’s good for them. The fun habituates them to a healthier long-term lifestyle.”

 

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Motivating Your Friends to Take Their Kids Outside

As a reader of SimpleFamilyFitness you already know how important it is to be outside with you kids you are already a fit mama or daddy.  The important this is to just relax and have fun.  Don’t use your children as an excuse for not being outside  . . . instead use them as a catalyst for being outside more.  Not only will it keep your house cleaner but it will prevent obesity, wear them out, and build a new generation of children who love the outdoors.

Do you have friends who don’t take their kids outside?  Try these tips to get them outside:

  • Join or start a Facebook group for moms and dads that posts activities for kids
  • Post your activities on the SimpleFamilyFitness Facebook page to motivate others
  • Google search “activities for kids in  . . . ” with your city name
  • Invite them to your community park for a picnic
  • Take them to the Zoo
  • Find a splash park and invite them to play

Generally speaking people want to be active and enjoy being outside.  Inspiring others by simple invitations can be enough to get them moving and outside.

Do you have tips to get your friends or tips for keeping you kids moving?  Share them below.

Image Credits: Matt WierPostdlf

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Jun 11

10 Running Games for Kids to Get Them Off The Couch and in the Yard

It seems that children, by nature, tend to love being outside and playing.  However, as they are introduced to video games, tv, music, naps, ipods, etc . . . they tend to set being active and outside to the side and start to embrace a less active lifestyle.  Helping children to again love being outside and running can be pretty easy and in general is simply a matter of the parents actually taking the kids outside. We have discussed the role of parents in creating healthy habits in children here. Below is a list of 10 running games for kids that parents can use to help their children love the outdoors and begin to embrace running.

For a fun read regarding the importance of helping kids embrace nature and outside play check out this book: Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Defect Disorder, By Richard Louv it is an insightful and informative read on the topic and will help to encourage parents to implement outdoor and running games for kids.  Read it for free HERE on Google Booksor BUY here on Amazon.

10 Fun Running Games for Kids – From Couch to Yard

  1. Red Rover – this simple “old school” game can be played with children of all ages but you will need at least 6 children or so to actually make the game work. To play set up two lines of kids standing parallel to each other, clasping hands.  One line says “Red Rover Red Rover Send _______ on Over”.  The childs name that is called leaves their line and runs full speed at the other line and tries to break the chain of clasped hands in the other line.  If the child does not break the chain, they become part of that line.  If they do break the chain, they go back to their line and select a player from the other line to join their team. This is a fantastic game for all ages.  Taz played at 2 years old with his older cousins and had a fantastic time. Though the kids are not running the entire time they are outside and do have to run intermittently.
  2. Tag – Everyone loves tag.  Kids seem to be able to play tag without ever stopping.  To play simply choose one child to be “IT” they run around and try to tag the other children.  When a child is tagged, they become “IT”
    1. Freeze tag – this is a variation of tag where those who are tagged must freeze and are not able to move until another child unfreezes them by tagging them or going under their legs. The “IT” child wins if they are able to freeze all the children.
    2. Shadow tag – Shadow tag is really the same as tag except that instead of tagging the person the “IT” individual tags the childs shadow.  Tag is a great running game as it is really an endless game that requires a lot of running for the child and can really wear out an active child.
  3. Capture the Flag – a great organized way for kids to play this game involves two teams with separate sides and forts.  Each team has a flag (this can be a shoe, shirt, or anything small).  Teams try to get the flag from the other side without being tagged.  For more detailed rules click here. Children do have to run a lot in this game so it is good to help kids begin to enjoy playing outside.
  4. Relay Games – this is where parents can really use their creativity.  Find a large field, bring some toys and create games for kids that require running. Wheel barrow races, water balloon toss, obstacle course, etc . . . really parents can use their imagination all you really need to do is set very loose ground rules that include running or jogging, and allow the kids to use their imaginations to run and burn energy.  This is a good way to introduce children to running without them even knowing it.

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    Taz Playing Baseball

  5. Soccer – the important thing about playing soccer with kids is that at first you don’t stick to closely to the rules.  Just bring a cheap soccer ball (or any ball) for that matter and let them practice kicking.  They will learn how to run and develop coordination all at the same time. We were shocked the first time we actually gave Taz a soccer ball and let him go loose at the park.  He took off! It was as if he always knew how to play. You can pick up a ball for a couple buck at Walmart or Academy Sports.
  6. Red Light – Green Light – a great game for younger children.  It works best if an adult is able to play and kindof lead the game.  The person who is it stand with their back to the other kids.  They turn their back to the kids and say Green Light allowing the kids to take steps toward the IT person.  The IT person turns around at any time and says RED LIGHT.  The kids must stop moving. If the it person notices movement the child must go back to the starting line. A child wins if they make it all the way to the IT person.  This does not involve an enormous amount of movement but will help kids develop an interest in movement games.
  7. Kick the Can– Kick the can is an amazing game for kids and adults alike.  It is best played with older kids and at night.  Rather than try to exlpain this fun game I will refer you to this website here to read the rules. This game involves a lot of movement and running and kids will really enjoy it . . . I still do!
  8. Races – I realize this is pretty generic but kids love to race.  They love to win and they can all be taught how to lose graciously. You can get creative as a parent and build fun racing courses or just race specific distances.  You only need 1 child for this and can have them race the clock or you can have a lot of kids play.  If you buy a cheap set of cones you can set up little racing courses and require the kids to bear crawl, army crawl, run backwards, etc . . . at each cone and time them one at a time.  I have always been amazed at how easy it is to get kids running when you make it a race.DSC_0338-e1402492147690
  9. Duck Duck Goose –  this running game really needs no introduction.  I will say that if you are playing with younger kids (under 4) I have found that it is important for parents to just let go of the rules and let the kids have fun running and playing together.
  10. Sardines – sardines is like reverse hide and go seek that is way I included it on this list.  Rather than just one person hunting for everyone – everyone hunts for one person so there is much more running by everyone.  Younger children can play this game but I have not tried playing with anyone under about 5 years old.
  11. Go to a Track, Baseball, or Soccer Fieldokay I guess you get a bonus game – we have talked in other posts about how important it is that parents bring their kids with them when they go running.  This may sound oversimplified but I have experienced it time and time again with my own kids, nieces and nephews, and friends kids that to get kids out and running all you really need to do is provide them with the space.  They will develop their own games they will use their imagination and they will run and play.  Just find a park with a nice field and let the kids go wild.

If these games are incorporated into a childs life at a young age they will become habit and kids will begin to seek outside time to be able to play.  However, if you are just starting out or trying to help a couch potato child learn to love the outdoors . . . just be patient.  Don’t give up after just trying one game.  Start with one game and move on if your child doesn’t enjoy it.  Just get them outside and be patient as they learn to run and play.  It is just like teaching them to like new foods.  Provide the opportunity and let them develop their preferences.

What Running Games do You Play With Your Kids?

This is obviously not an exhaustive list of every running game out there for kids. But this is a nice range of games for various groups and ages.  The important thing is to get outside and try these games today.   If the weather is bad you can play some of these games indoors too.  Remember, the important this is to spark the interest in fitness and activity.

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Jun 09

6 Tips For Training For A Marathon AFTER Having a Baby

I ran my first marathon at 26 years old.  The feeling I felt after I crossed the finish line instantly alleviated my pain and fatigue.  I loved the feeling so much that the next day I signed up for two more marathons.  When I decided I wanted to have children I made a deal with myself. After each baby I would run another marathon.  With each marathon I have learned new things.  I wanted to share some experiences and some suggestions for post baby training.

1. Be careful not to rush back into training after the baby is born. Listen to your body and your doctor to know when you are ready.  The generic timeframe is 6 weeks, but this is just a guide.  After my first baby I started jogging at exactly 6 weeks after the baby was born.  Unfortunately I wasn’t completely healed, and a few weeks later I went back to the doctor because of persistent pain where my stitches had been.  I hadn’t completely healed, and had started back a little too soon. On the other hand after my second child I started running about 4 weeks after baby was born. I felt great and could tell that I had healed.  I have never had a c-section, but make sure you doctor is on board with your plans to workout.

2.  Running while nursing.  Initially the biggest challenge will be the amount of time between feedings.  Infants usually nurse every 3 hours.  If your baby nurses slowly you may only have a couple hours between feedings to get in a jog.  The good thing is as your baby gets older the time between feedings increases.  This will allow a little more time for long runs as your baby gets older.

3.  Warm Up and Cool Down.  Your body has been through a lot and you probably weigh a little more than you did before your baby was born.  It is more important now than ever to warm up and cool down properly.  The point of a warm up and cool down is twofold: first you don’t want to pull a cold muscle by going too hard too fast, second you want to ease your heart into your workout.  A nice stretch at the end of your workout will help you stay nice and flexible and may increase your stride.  It is best to do this at the end while your muscles are warm.

4. Running with your baby.  One of the most rewarding aspects of training for a marathon after you have a baby is including your baby in your workouts.  I bought a jogging stroller before my son was born and as soon as I was ready I started bringing him with me.  Occasionally I snuck in a few runs without the stroller, but most my long runs were with my little guy.  The longest run I did with my son was an 18 mile run.  I brought a bottle with breast milk in a little cooler with an ice pack.  My young son liked the motion of the stroller and slept very well.  When he woke up I let him drink the milk from the bottle and I pumped as soon as my run was done.  All the other runs went very well, but the last couple miles my son was upset and couldn’t be consoled.  After a diaper change and cuddling he still wouldn’t calm down.  The last couple miles I ended up holding him in one arm and pushing the stroller in the other.  Looking back this run probably took more out of me than the marathon, which is what made it a perfect training run.

5. Be prepared for bad weather.  One day I went on a run with my jeep jogging stroller.  I strapped my son into his car seat and set the car seat into the stroller.  I took off on a 4 mile run.  About a mile and a half away from home it started to pour.  Huge drops of rain gushing down.  I put the car seat cover and stroller cover up and hoped my little son wouldn’t get too wet.  I raced home as fast as I possibly could but I was drenched from head to foot within in couple minutes.  I felt like I was having buckets of water poured onto my head.  I got home and rushed my son inside the house.  I finally opened the car seat cover and my son was completely dry.  There were a couple drops on his blanket, but they hadn’t gotten through to his skin.  He was cozy in his little seat and happy as could be.  It was one of my fastest runs and once I knew my son was safe and dry the rainy run was pretty awesome!

6.  Stretch time with baby.  My favorite time was the end of my runs talking to my little guy and tickling him while I stretched on the floor next to him.  It helped me make sure to take the time I needed to get a nice deep stretch while my muscles were still warm. This is sort of my reward in my habit loop of running.

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My 6 month old son cheered me on at the Chicago marathon in 2011 and was waiting for me at the end of the race.  He had a teddy bear and flowers for me when I saw him.  It felt so good to hold him in my arms at the end of such a big event.  I hope that my marathon promise will help me to always stay healthy for my little ones.  And some day I hope I will run along with them when they run their first big race.

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