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Keep kids active over the holidays

December 2, 2011
By Jon Buzby

Most recreational youth sports teams, unless they are very serious and play in a holiday tournament, are off for probably the week before Christmas until the week after New Year's Day. And unfortunately for youth sports athletes, the availability and temptation to eat sweets and other fattening foods is greater than at any time during the year.

Add to that the cold weather, a warm fireplace, video games, iPhones and the Internet, and what you get is the optimal combination of non-strenuous activities for kids to gain weight, get out of shape, and not be ready to return to whatever sport they are playing when the season resumes in January.

I know that most kids don't have access to a gymnasium and most homes aren't equipped with basketball hoops, wrestling mats or weights in the basement, but there are other ways to stay active and in shape during the holiday vacation.

Whether your child plays baseball or not, indoor batting cages are a great place to get some exercise. Just moving your body to swing a bat is more of a workout than the upper body will get reaching in the holiday cookie jar.

Indoor roller rinks or ice rinks are not only great teenage hangouts, but they also provide aerobic exercise, which is beneficial no matter what sport you play. However, just remember that if kids spend most of their time standing around talking, in line at the concession stand, or honing their video game skills, they aren't going to reap the benefits of the price of admission and skate rentals.

If your house has a treadmill or some other stationary exercise machine, give your kids permission to use it (with supervision depending on age). Even if they just use it for the length of one short television show, that's better than watching from the couch.

And last but not least, on the days when it's not absolutely freezing out, encourage your kids to get outside and do something. Shoot hoops, take a walk, or if it's snowing, sledding is a wonderful workout (hint: jog the sled back up the hill). Don't let them stay outside until their hands and feet are numb, but there's nothing wrong with being a little cold for a short amount of time.

And then, of course, they can come back inside and warm up with a hot cup of cocoa ... and a few Christmas cookies.

Happy Holidays!

Jon Buzby's columns appear in newspapers and magazines around the country as well as numerous websites. Email your comments to



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