Shields Elementary has fitness center in the gym during February

February 14, 2014

During February at Shields Elementary School, I dedicate the month to a fitness unit in which my kids answer the question, “How can we improve our fitness level?” I have a Wesley College student teacher, Chuck Stewart - the kids call him Coach S - and he is the man when it comes to teaching elementary kids about the heart. Students learn about exercise, resting and max heart rates, the job of the heart, and why our blood is blue, but we see it red.

We have a circuit of activities set up for each class, from aerobic steps and jump ropes, to free weights, a stretching mat, stationary bikes, treadmills and elliptical trainer, and abdominal machines. Physical education classes need to move in this direction, because the kids love this kind of workout. I have been pleasantly surprised that I have been able to get more exercise out of them in this unit than in any other unit I do. They have fun working out on the machines. We even have a small membership fee. I charge the kids one smile to get in and one smile to get out.

Runner’s World magazine Top 10 Tips for Running in the Snow

1. Slow and steady. Running in the snow has a similar impact on your body as running on the beach. Sand and snow absorb more energy from your foot when your foot goes down, so you have less energy to propel you forward. A shorter step means that this can be quite a strenuous workout for a distance you are normally very capable of. Plan a slow and steady pace, especially as you start off, and pick up your speed later when you feel more adapted to the new textures.

2. Save your energy. Because it requires more energy to run in the snow, find other ways to conserve it. Regulate your breathing and refrain from over-swinging your arms. A heart rate monitor can help you monitor your heart rate and caloric burn, and can provide you with other useful fitness data while you run.

3. Beware of ice. Always beware of your footing while out on your run. Beneath the snow, there could be a sheet of ice which could cause you to slip. Make sure you have suitable footwear with sufficient traction.

4. Plan your route.  Keep in mind the level of traffic, the thickness of the snow, the weather forecast for the next few hours, an approximate timeframe, and distance. In snowy weather, it is sometimes better to stick to the busier roads.

5. Consider your safety. Tell friends and family where you will be and how long you could be gone. Stay away from remote places in case of an emergency, and carry your mobile phone. Also, you must be prepared to walk back should you suffer an injury, so warm clothing is essential.

6. Watch out for traffic. Snow and ice not only affect your movement as a runner, but the movement of vehicles on the road. If it’s safe to do so, always try to position yourself facing the traffic so you can see what’s happening ahead of you.

7. Dress appropriately. You need to be warm but not sweaty. Mid or base layers with high wicking properties will keep you dry, even when your body starts to perspire. Consider buying a hat, gloves, thermal socks, running shoes, and a windproof and/or waterproof running jacket. Some running jackets come with zipped vents in case you get too warm.

8. Run on the roads only if they are clear. Because main roads are gritted for drivers, they are often much easier to run on.

9. Use a heart rate monitor. Monitors can help you focus your workout for specific goals. Faster- or slower-twitch muscle fibers determine what type of running you excel in. Because you are running in the snow, you could be restricted from a fast-twitch muscle regime (suitable for sprinters), so use a heart rate monitor to target your slow-twitch muscle fibers, focusing on endurance and stamina rather than speed.

10. Enjoy the snow. As long as you take the necessary precautions, you can run safely in the snow and enjoy it. Relax and have fun to get the most out of your workout.

Valentines Day 5K

Why not celebrate Valentines Day and spend some time with your loved one at Cape Henlopen State Park Saturday, Feb. 15? The ninth annual Valentines 5K Run & Walk will take off at 10 a.m. from the fishing pier. Runners looking to register for the event can visit or show up on race day an hour before the scheduled start. The course takes runners to Fort Miles and back on the Cape State Park multipurpose path. Striders Enos Benbow, Rick Hundley, and Luanne Goldfarb will be filling in for me, so treat them nicely. Over & out!

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