Top 5 Ways to Keep Your Tweens and Teens Healthy, Part 1

We live in a pressure cooker these days and when it comes to sports and activities for our kids, it's no different. I talk to lots of parents who travel around the country with their kids for tournaments and meets. Some kids are multi-sport athletes so their season never ends. The media doesn't help much either. If a kid shows promise at the tender age of ten, he or she can be labeled the next (you fill in the blank) and all of a sudden all eyes are on this innocent kid to change the face of that particular sport. So much pressure!

We live in such a performance oriented society and as parents it can be easy to get caught up in the grind.  Anytime I attend one of my kid's basketball games, I see the level of effort parents go through to film every game, keep stats, and sign-up for services designed to help their kid get discovered. You see, I'm concerned because I think that when it comes to true athletic success for our kids it's not just about the wins and stats that make an athlete great, it's the not-so-obvious things we can do for our kids to make them healthier for their sport on and offseason. Below are my top 5 ways to keep your tween and/or teen healthy for the long haul.

Tip #1: Help them manage stress. Stress is the number one reason so many folks have workplace-related illnesses. If you think about it, one day our young people will be in that same environment and they'll have even more stress on them than we did. Young people are under a great deal amount of stress and it's constant. They face stressors on a daily basis and social media is the magnifying glass. You have to be intentional about helping your kids manage stress. Help them discern how stress manifests itself. Insomnia, anxiety, and sports injuries can be an indicator of high stress levels. Teach them about deep breathing exercises along with learning how to shut down way before bedtime. Talk to them about the importance of having quiet time to get settled and recharge, without their phones. It can be tough for us to do this as parents but our kids look to us to set an example so we owe it to them to help them get a handle on stress early in their lives.

Tip #2: Teach them the importance of sleep. There was a time when Starbucks Coffee was for grown-ups and now it's not uncommon to see teenagers loading up on energy drinks to stay alert in order to knock-out their deadline. The problem with caffeine is that it's addictive and over time, can wreak havoc on sleep patterns. Too much caffeine is known to disrupt deep sleep and without a good 9-10 hours (yes, your tweens and teens are toddlers again), their cognitive function is impaired, they get sick often, and they're even moodier (imagine that?). If your kid is stressed out (see tip #1), sleep is affected so keep an eye out for how these two areas overlap.  

The first step in teaching your kids about the importance of sleep is to model it yourself. Get in the habit of doing things that tell the kids that it's time to wind down. Designate a check-in spot for cellphones, turn off all televisions by 9 PM, talk with family, or get out a good book. Get your kids in the habit early of shutting things down and they will learn to value their quiet time and eventually, it will become a habit for them.

In my next post I'll discuss my remaining tips on how to keep your tweens and teens healthy for life. The great thing about these tips is that once they become a habit, your kid will have an arsenal of tools to help them in their sport and in life. 

Boot Camp 101: Tips to Success

You  may have heard the boot camp horror stories or you may have one of your own.  A pulled muscle or ankle injury that sidelined you for weeks or months.  While there are plenty of stories about bad boot camp experiences you can have a positive one.  If you're thinking about joining a boot camp or still on the fence keep reading.  These tips will help you be successful in your next boot camp journey and get a great workout too!

Tip #1: Get the right shoes.  If you're new to boot camp the best thing to do is get the right footwear.  Walking shoes aren't the best since you need a shoes with lateral give so you can do moves like side-shuffles.  Get your feet measured and select a fitness shoe, not a running shoe. The best time to shop is in the afternoon or early evening.  Remember to test your shoes with proper fitting athletic socks.  

Tip #2: Start slow.  This is perhaps the biggest error folks make when starting a boot camp. Avoid going hard on day one.  Focus on the right form and doing the minimal number of exercises correctly first.  Once you've mastered the basics, you can add extra moves to increase the intensity.  Remember, you can always make an exercise harder but if you start too intense, you can injure yourself.

Tips #3: Recover properly. Recovery is key to success with any exercise program.  Recovery is best described as taking time in-between exercise sessions to allow for maximal muscle recovery and building.  If you do an intense boot camp session on Monday, a spin class the next day isn't a good idea.  A better idea would be a day off or a flexibility training session like Pilates or Yoga.  If you have to do cardio a low-intensity walk can work too.  Drink plenty of water and get consistent rest.  Maintain a regular sleep schedule especially on workout days to improve overall recovery and get better fitness results.

Boot camps are a way to add variation to your exercise routine.  Get the right gear, start slow, and recover daily and you'll be ready for summer in no time.