Schools putting real ‘play’ back into playgrounds

,  EDUCATION REPORTER for The Globe and Mail shared that for 15 minutes on a blistering Wednesday afternoon, students at Chester Elementary School in Toronto were set free to run through the sprinklers in their shoes and regular clothes on the field. Others preferred to climb nearby trees or hop off an old stump to get onto the roof of the storage shed – all with the principal’s enthusiastic blessing.

It was a way to cool off or find shade on a humid day. But there was something else at play.

In an era when so many parents seem to be filling every free minute of their child’s day with organized activities – sports teams, music lessons or tutoring – a growing number of educators across the country are embracing the idea of putting unstructured play back into school playgrounds.

Raktim Mitra, an associate professor in the school of urban and regional planning at Ryerson University, said research has shown that engaging in creative and spontaneous play is important for the physical and mental well-being of children. “The idea is that when your free time is more creative and more imaginative, then you can concentrate more on the structured elements of your day,” he said.

Prof. Mitra and his colleagues have been evaluating how students fare at Chester and a handful of other Toronto schools that signed up to participate in a pilot project funded by Earth Day Canada. The charity is the only organization in Canada licensed to deliver the Outdoor Play and Learning (OPAL) program, developed in Britain. It pushes to bring back unstructured play and encourage children to use all sorts of “loose parts” – spares tires, ropes, sticks, logs, and other castoffs – to build whatever comes into their heads. The program has expanded to 25 Toronto-area schools this year.

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What is metabolic syndrome?

Neha Shah, M.D., who specializes in bariatric & obesity medicine and internal medicine at Edwards-Elmhurst Health share that if you carry a lot of weight around your waist, you’re boosting your risk for heart disease.

If you have high blood pressure or diabetes you are also at a higher risk.

When you have all three, you have what we call metabolic syndrome.

A metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors that increase your chance of developing certain conditions. It’s not a disease in itself but describes the condition of having symptoms that could spur serious disease—such as heart attacks and stroke—down the road.

There are some things that put you at risk for metabolic syndrome (and, thus, a higher risk for future heart disease, diabetes or stroke). The more of these you have, the higher your risk: Read more

Why pediatricians are prescribing play time for kids

CBS News shared that when 4-year-old Britton Taunton-Rigby recently got her yearly checkup, her pediatrician wrote a prescription for something he says is important. It reads, “Play Every Day.”

New guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends all pediatricians do the same. The organization says playing with parents and peers is a critical part of a child’s healthy development, fundamental for learning life skills and reducing stress.

“Play is not frivolous: it enhances brain structure and function and promotes executive function,” the report, published this week, states.

The AAP and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend children get one hour of physical activity per day, as well as one hour of simple, creative play.

Lead author of the report, Dr. Michael Yogman, says play often gets a bad rap as being a waste of time, which he says is highly inaccurate.

“Play is really brain building because it has all kinds of effects on brain structure and function,” he told CBS News. “Executive function skills, learning to persist on a task, learning to solve problems, learning to be flexible about how they are learning things. It’s how we learn, not what we learn.” Read more

ParticipACTION’s 2018 Report Card on Physical Activity

Shore Broadcasting shared in the Children and Nature newsletter that new research by ParticipACTION indicates that physical activity can improve kids’ brain health by boosting both cognitive ability and mental wellness.

It’s all part of ParticipACTION’s 2018 Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth.

According to ParticipACTION this is the most comprehensive assessment of child and youth physical activity in Canada.

The research suggests that an active lifestyle can help release a child’s potential in several ways including performance in the classroom, problem-solving skills, and overall focus.

This Brain + Body Equation comes as no surprise to PLAY Coordinator Jason Weppler.

He says for years Play in Bruce Grey has been promoting the benefits of active children for body, mind, spirit and emotional well being.

For eleven years Bruce and Grey have been part of the PLAY movement which promotes physical activity for children to seniors.

Weppler notes Bruce Grey is one of the few regions that still carry the PLAY torch, he says this just goes to show the strong commitment and partnerships there are local to promoting a healthy lifestyle. Read more

Mark You Calendars and Plan on Attending

Paradise Bay Water Park Customer Appreciation Night
Tuesday, August 7
from 5:00-9:00 p.m.
The address is 437 E. St. Charles Road.
Come and enjoy the fun!  Healthy Lombard will be sponsoring a Flat Apple Gam Table.  Come by, play the games, earn Participation Tickets.
Check out all the Flat Apple info. at:

7 ways to make this your summer of fitness

young woman practicing fitness and working out in a gym

Ken Miller, a certified personal trainer, and fitness specialist shared in the Edward-Elmhurst Healthy Driven Blog that as the days lengthen and sunshine becomes a staple, it’s easy to let your fitness routine slip away. Resist! It’s important to continue with a routine, even a modified one, in order to avoid regression through the summer months.

There are many ways to accomplish this. Take a look at some simple, effective, methods to meet your summer fitness goals.

Smarter time spent in the gym

As outdoor obligations pick up during the summer, take advantage of the time you can spend in the gym.

  • Focus on strength training. Build muscle while you’re in the gym. Outdoor activities like walking, or even yard work, have a significant cardiovascular benefit and could supplement or replace your normal cardiovascular routine.
  • Perform compound (multi-joint) exercises at the gym. Think squats, deadlifts, lunges, pushups, pull-ups, rows and overhead presses. These movements have a greater demand on larger muscle groups.
  • Cut down on rest periods. This is an issue many people struggle with. It is important that you get the maximum amount of work done with the time you spend. Bring a stopwatch to make sure you’re resting for a prescribed amount of time between exercises.

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Getting More Exercise and Why It’s Worth It

Jay Ell Alexander is the owner and CEO of Black Girls RUN!. Black Girls RUN! is an organization aiming to tackle the growing obesity epidemic in the African-American community and provide encouragement and resources to new and veteran runners.  Recently she shared the Office of Women’s Health that

Many of us have experienced times in our lives where we’re less active or not active at all. We may exercise every now and then but not as much as we should. And we want to believe there are tricks and quick fixes, but the truth is that starting and maintaining a healthy routine can be hard. I lived it — I know! I have sizes in my closet ranging from 10 to 16 to prove it. But I knew that if I wanted to make a lasting change for a healthier me, I couldn’t get around putting in the effort and overcoming exercise challenges.

Personally, I had a lot of mental barriers about working out. I thought of exercise as “all or nothing,” and I often talked myself out of exercising before I could even get started. I’ve since learned that it’s not necessary for me to spend hours at the gym or force myself to do exercises that feel boring or painful. I learned I could get fit and enjoy the benefits of exercise through activities that I actually enjoy, such as dancing and walking with friends. Some exercise is better than none, and adding exercise to your weekly routine can have a profound effect on your health and well-being. Here are four ways I’ve made exercise a bigger part of my life, and you can, too!

  1. Confront your exercise excuses.At first, exercising seemed scary, and honestly, I felt a little self-conscious. But I quickly realized that I was not the only person trying to lose weight and become healthier. I started working out alone, choosing to walk during lunch or on the treadmill at the gym. After gaining some confidence, I asked my friends and husband to join me, and we started attending classes together. After a short time, I noticed that exercising was easier than I thought. I already moved every day — all I had to do was move more.

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10 Reasons to Get Moving Today!

The Center for Disease Control shared that sure, you’ve heard that physical activity might help keep the weight off, but are you familiar with the other reasons physical activity is so important? Here’s a look at 10 benefits of physical activity and why you should get moving today!

  1. Lower Risk of Type 2 Diabetes or Diabetes Complications
    More than 30 million Americans have diabetes, and another 84 million US adults have a condition called prediabetes, which puts them at risk of type 2 diabetes. Regular physical activity helps prevent type 2 diabetes. If you already have diabetes (type 1 or type 2), you can help control your blood sugar levels by staying active.
  1. Better Brain Function
    Regular physical activity can keep your thinking, learning, and judgment skills sharp and delay the decline of these skills as you age.
  1. More Money in Your Wallet
    $117 billion – That’s how much our country spends each year in health care costs associated with levels of physical activity that are too low. Not getting enough physical activity can increase your risk of developing a chronic disease, which comes with higher health care costs. Staying active is good for your health and your wallet, too.
  1. Lower Risk of Some Cancers
    Getting the recommended amount of physical activity can lower the risk of many cancers.  These include cancers of the bladder, breast, colon, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, lung, and stomach.
  1. Longer Life
    Being physically active can reduce your risk of dying early from leading causes of death such as heart disease and diabetes. Only a few lifestyle choices have as large an impact on your health as physical activity. People who are physically active for about 7 hours a week have a 40 percent lower risk of dying early than those who are active for less than 30 minutes a week.

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The Habits of Highly Successful People

     Milan Krstovic, Jr. Media Relations Associate, at  Porch and her team shared that perhaps we should forget “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” These days, gurus across the internet claim dozens of routines will put you on the path to fulfillment. In one camp, there are the evangelists of wholesome habits: Get up early, make your bed, and exercise, and you’ll inevitably encounter success. Then you have the mindfulness contingent, who says daily meditation will deliver clarity to even the most frazzled capitalists. Other habit-based programs take consistency to the extreme, suggesting eating and wearing the same things each day. If you’re skeptical of these well-intentioned suggestions, don’t kick yourself for your cynicism. It’s hard to know if any of these habits truly work for you––or anyone.

That’s why Data for Stories  experimented on its own, surveying over 1,000 people on how successful they feel in several major life areas. They then asked them about their habits to gain a statistical view of the practices that correlate most closely with fulfillment. If you’ve wondered which habits allow other people to achieve their purpose and prosperity, you won’t want to miss the results. Read on to see how successful people consistently spend the one resource they can’t replenish: their time. Read more