Preparing for Your First 5K

Preparing for your first 5K can be a wonderful experience. First of all, you should be making sure you are physically able to do a 5K walk/race. Going to the doctor for a general check-up and blood work should be the first step. The second step is to make a decision to do a race that is five to eight weeks away and register for it. The next step is to tell family and friends of your intention of running that race. That should start to fuel the motivation it takes to do the race.

The next progression is a clothing inventory of what you already have and what you will need for race day. You should make a decision about what clothing you will need for training and for the day of the race. Layering and avoiding cotton is essential. Going to a running store to buy proper shoes for your race is crucial. The staff can check your gait and foot type. Pick clothes that are loose fitting but comfortable. Avoid tight underwear or slippery clothing that might deter your time during the race. A good hydration belt that does not bounce, such as a spider or I-Fitness belt with pockets, is a good option for carrying water/sports drinks during the race. It is also good during your training runs to carry identification such as a driver’s license, state identification, or a road ID that lists your address, contacts in case of emergency, and blood type in case something happens during your training or during the race.

Developing Gross and Fine Motor Skills in Early Childhood

This is a series about fine and gross motor skills in early childhood. Children of all ability levels should have both structured and unstructured experiences in motor skills. Early interventions and involvements of parent and school can develop positive experiences, which can help students develop at a normal rate. This month’s article is part one of the series and explains what motor skills are.

What are motor skills? They are the large and small movements of the body such as lifting, pushing, pulling, and carrying. In order to develop fine and gross motor skills, an individual must effectively use the mind-body connection and have spatial awareness of their surroundings.

Gross Motor Skills for Early Childhood Development

Today is part two of the series on Motor Skills. Gross Motor Skills are the first motor movements in early childhood. They are the large movements of the body using the arms, legs, torso and feet. Sitting, catching, kicking, galloping, crawling, walking, running, jumping, are considered gross motor skills.

There are many activities that can develop gross motor skills. Balancing on beams, standing on dots, crawling and climbing develop coordination, control, laterality, and synchronize the right and left body sides. Other activities consist of students crawling, going over and under objects during relays and obstacles courses.

Hopping helps control body and balance. Students can hop around objects such a low boxes and cones, dots or stepping stones. Jumping develops overall gross motor skills and coordination. Students can also jump over objects, string, a line or beanbags. Students can kick balls, balloons of various sizes.

Fine Motor Skills for Early Childhood

Today is the third and final segment of the Motor Movement Series. Fine Motor Movements use the small muscles of the eyes, fingers, toes, wrists, lips and tongue. The small muscles work with both the large muscles to develop movement. They are often for used communication purposes, both functional and expressive, such as writing or typing text, manipulating tools or creating works of art. There is coordination of the eyes and hand, foot and eyes, and dexterity of each of the fingers to write, draw and type. Tactile and space awareness is also developed with fine motor practice.

Some activities used to teach writing include writing letters or numbers in sand, pudding, or shaving cream. Q-tips or cosmetic sponges with water writing on the chalkboard reinforce correct formation of text using water to erase letters. Toothbrushes on dry erase boards manipulate practice with downward and circular brushing movements erasing previously correct formed letters, numbers or words. Dry and wet pasta, beans and rice, other paper mediums, glitter, teach writing with correct placement on paper or cardboard.

I hear of offices and classrooms using stability balls instead of typical chairs. Is this a good idea?

Stability balls have been a long-standing tool to help not just with exercise. They started out as a physical therapy tool. During the late 1960s, Dr. Susan Klein-Vogelbach of Basel, Switzerland, was the first individual to use the balls, particularly with those having orthopedic problems. Despite their Italian origin, “Swiss balls” got their name from American physical therapists who witnessed the use of the balls while visiting several Switzerland clinics. In 1989, physical therapist Joanne Posner-Mayer began instructing U.S. therapists on the neurological, orthopedic, and fitness applications of stability balls. Today, athletic trainers, strength coaches, personal trainers, and physical therapists around the world use stability balls in fitness and rehab programs. Most recently, teachers and principals have discovered the use of stability balls in a classroom as an effective teaching tool. My classroom has been the recipient of ten stability balls, due to the generous contributions of a grant organized by my principal Patricia Ransford, vice principal Jo Ross, and a non-profit organization called

Motor Skill Development Basics

It is essential that children have early movement exploration programs in order to develop normally and completely into successful athletes as adults. Early training in perceptual motor learning must include total involvement in the environment. Infants can track an object held close to them by moving their entire body. Later this tracking develops tracking in a variety of directions, a skill that is essential in preparation for catching and throwing a ball. Holding a baby in various positions is also important. This causes effective kinesthetic skills as you hold and carry the baby in different positions.

  Propriception can be developed in the pool. Putting an infant partially in   the water will stimulate movement and improve perception. Infants have   natural swimming abilities until they are about a quarter of a year old.         Reinforcing this skill early will ensure that the reflex will not disappear       and fear of the water later will diminish.

Kids’ Sports Injuries 101

There are general guidelines about when to call a doctor for a sport or exercise injury. I will first discuss guidelines to waiting and seeing if the injury needs medical attention. Secondly, I will discuss how to talk to children about waiting and listening to their body. Lastly, I will outline injuries that require a prompt doctor’s visit.

Minor injuries of the muscles and joints do not generally require a visit to the doctor. Pains from minor injuries caused by generally resolve themselves after initial rest, stretching, and then systematically strengthening. If the pain does not disappear in a few weeks, generally it is recommended that the child should go to a doctor. It is essential to teach children what delay onset muscle soreness is what it feels like. Educate them so they understand what is happening in their muscular systems. A student should learn to wait and see how the injury feels. Listening to their body is an effective way to know if the pain warrants a visit to the physician. The child should learn the difference between discomfort and pain beyond tolerance. If the pain is severe, prompt attention to the doctor is necessary.

Readiness for Motor Skills

Motor skills are developed in different stages for various children. It is essential that each child learns the major movement activities in order to have a life-long appreciation of fitness. During early childhood, there should be an opportunity to work on walking, balancing, throwing, and catching.

Children should have trial and error experiences as well as beginning drills and the integration of skills in specific sport games. Skills are learned by body through mind learning. Emphasis should be on imitation and games that cause children to assume proper movement patterns. Proper form must be shown through fun games and activities.

Basics for a Good Elementary Fitness Program

Children in a elementary school fitness program should learn to love physical activities, develop basic motor and perceptual abilities. There should be an emphasis on balance, body and space awareness, hand/eye coordination, and running skills. Specialization of skills should be saved for the junior high elementary program.

A good program should involve personalization for each child. A child who is slow or handicapped should receive the same attention as a gifted athlete. Children should learn to love physical education and see the importance of adding it to their daily routine.

Children must learn to master running, jumping, throwing, and catching. Proper form must be emphasized and systematically taught. Children should have opportunities to work on their perceptual-motor abilities and overcome any perceptual motor deficiencies. Children need to learn the rules and basics for sports and specific instruction to work on the general skills needed for that sport. Sports should be taught for a lifetime.

Lifetime Fitness for the Young Child

Every adult in a child’s life has the possibility to make a positive difference in that young person’s life. This positive influence can be felt in a variety of ways. Most important, make sports and fitness activities fun.

Specialization of sports should not begin until adolescence. Allow a child to have the opportunity to try as many kinds of athletic activities as he shows an interest. Keep the environment of fitness safe and exciting. Find out the reason for the child’s desire to be involved in the activity. Is it to play with his friends or to develop in a particular sport or activity? Winning should not be the result of competing in sports. There should be more focus on skill development rather than on perfect performance.


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