Summer Fitness for Your Family

WebMD Live Events Transcript

The opinions expressed herein are the guests' alone and have not been reviewed by a WebMD physician. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.

MODERATOR:
Welcome to WebMD Live, Dr. Sottovia. Please tell us a little bit about the Cooper Fitness Center.

SOTTOVIA:
We are a private health club located in the heart of Dallas. We are about 40,000 square feet and a capacity of 3,500 members. Our fitness department is fully staffed with approximately 25 full-time personal trainers. We basically work one-on-one with clients. We also offer a variety of different activities for members, including group exercise classes, from Pilates, yoga, tai chi, to the more typical aerobic dance step class. We also have different professional sports, such as boxing or kickboxing, running, soccer coach, more for specialty type activities.

MODERATOR:
What kind of things can a family do together at a fitness center?

SOTTOVIA:
One of the easiest things would be swimming. A lot of fitness centers have outdoor swimming. There's also walking on the track, outdoor walking if the facility has an outdoor track; and inside the gymnasium there's playing basketball and volleyball.

MEMBER QUESTION:
When my family goes to the beach, which is almost every weekend, we spend a lot of time just lying around. What can we do to increase the benefits of exercise and still have a relaxing time?

SOTTOVIA:
Walking on the beach on the sand and look for shells. Playing ballgames, like racquet games, like racquetball activities, body surfing, and depending on the beach, maybe a little swimming along the shore so you don't have to go in the deep end, and scavenger hunts.

MODERATOR:
Scavenger hunts can have everyone scrambling around, too.

SOTTOVIA:
Those are the main ones -- definitely walking, swimming, and playing ballgames.

MODERATOR:
Kite flying can also get people up on their feet.

SOTTOVIA:
If there are a lot of rocks you can do a little hiking.

"Studies show that parents who are active are more likely to have kids or children who stay active as they grow older."


MEMBER QUESTION:
What are the benefits of working out as a family?

SOTTOVIA:
I think you instill in the children good habits, good lifestyle habits. Studies show that parents who are active are more likely to have kids or children who stay active as they grow older. That's the biggest one, the behavior influence on the children to be active. The children will always remember family time. Again, it instills in the children the value of the family being together.

MEMBER QUESTION:
We don't belong to a gym. What can we do together without special equipment?

SOTTOVIA:
Some summertime ideas:

  • Go to a park and start with walks, or I'm sure you can do a lot of hiking. If you're hiking, go uphill or hike trails where you have to climb more, to build more endurance and strength.
  • Outdoor swimming, whether a swimming poor of the beach
  • Playing games outside, like dodge ball, volleyball, where you're active and moving
  • Cycling together as a family
  • If you have small children using tricycles, you can walk or jog along with the kids and get exercise, too.
  • Walk the dog. Take the dog out to a dog park where you can play Frisbee.

MEMBER QUESTION:
We have two children, one who loves sports and one who hates the outdoors and would always rather read. Do you have any suggestions about how to get these two moving together?

SOTTOVIA:
Try to find out if she likes anything, even walking or cycling or swimming outdoors. Try to find an activity the inactive child likes or find something that's noncompetitive. A lot of times the kid who might like sports may be on the competitive side or if he plays basketball or baseball it requires skill. So for someone who does not like sports, the competition might be what brings the kid down, being intimidated by the skill. So let's find a game or activity that requires less skill, and is a little easier: cycling, swimming, just playing in the water, or playing with the dog.




MEMBER QUESTION:
How old do you think a child needs to be to take yoga classes? My wife and I love yoga and would like to get our children into it.

SOTTOVIA:
Yoga involves deeper flexibility positions and requires more strength that a young child may not have to hold the positions, so I would say 12, 13, or 14. If the parents can modify some of the poses, that would be OK for a child of a younger age, but no younger than 10 years old.

MEMBER QUESTION:
What do you think of children being involved in highly competitive sports?

SOTTOVIA:
It's OK to play football, basketball, most competitive sports, as long as it's within limits, where they're not pushed to the edge. If they're still enjoying the game, that's the key. It should be for fun, whether they win or lose they should still enjoy the sport.

The main problems are the parents. They're the ones who are so competitive and end up driving the children away from the game. All they think about is winning. The kids have it in their nature to play, and as we age we lose that. A lot of times it's the adults that make the game become work.

MEMBER QUESTION:
I enjoy weight lifting and my wife has started lifting. Is it true that children shouldn't start lifting until they are 15 or 16?

SOTTOVIA:
Preteens, around even 12 or 13, as long as it's done in a safe environment, with good technique, should be OK. They should be light volume weights, so let's say start at one set of 15 repetitions and build up to two sets.

Some boys will reach puberty at 12 or 13 and have the testosterone that enhances their muscle mass, but others won't hit it until 15 or 16, so they have an advantage right there.

MODERATOR:
Is this an activity that should involve a trainer, at least at the beginning?

SOTTOVIA:
If it's someone who has never lifted, you should use a personal trainer to instill the proper technique in a well-thought out workout, so you have a balanced workout. Most of the times high school coaches do not know about sensible program design; they train the kids to lift like a professional player and it's the wrong technique. They are not trained in proper biomechanics; they train the kids like their coach trained them. We see a lot of kids in the summertime at the gym lifting wrong or too much weight.

"The kids have it in their nature to play, and as we age we lose that. A lot of times it's the adults that make the game become work."

MEMBER QUESTION:
I work out to various exercise videos. My girls (6 and 8) like to watch and sometimes join in. I think it is cute. Is it OK to get them to join in?

SOTTOVIA:
As long as it's done safely, and depending on which exercise video. If it's the aerobic-dance type, if it's done safely and they're not overdoing the activity, it's fine.

MEMBER QUESTION:
What do you do to work out with your family?

SOTTOVIA:
My dog is my family. I take her for a jog at least four times a week. On days we don't jog we go for long walks, play Frisbee at the dog park, or go swimming at the lake or swimming pool.

MODERATOR:
You are also a very special kind of competitor aren't you?

SOTTOVIA:
I race triathlons for fun. It's a sport that involves three different activities: swim, bike, and run, in that order. The distances vary from short to very long, long distance. It could be a short one, half-mile swim open water, 15-mile bike and a 3.1-mile run. Then an iron-man distance would be a 2.4-mile swim open water swim, 112-mile bike, and the marathon run, which is 26.2 miles, all in one day. That's the longest one. That takes me about 13 hours for the iron man. A professional male athlete takes around eight hours, and a professional female around nine hours. They usually close the course at 16 hours.




MODERATOR:
Do you have any other suggestions for family activities?

SOTTOVIA:
If you're near a trail, definitely day hikes or half-day hikes. Go for a picnic at a nature park and take a lunch with you or snacks. Most parks will have different levels of trails, from beginning to advanced difficulty level, and it may vary from 2 to 3 miles to a 10-mile loop, so choose an appropriate distance.

If you have access to a lake, spend a day or half day on the lake, walking, swimming, or rowing. There are some parks that offer the paddleboats you can rent, too.

MODERATOR:
Always follow all safety rules when you're out on a boat.

SOTTOVIA:
Spend a day in an amusement park; that's a lot of walking there, too. That's a good way to do a family activity.

MODERATOR:
Looking forward to colder weather, what kinds of family activities can you recommend?

SOTTOVIA:
Skiing and ice-skating are great, or if you don't ski you can walk or hike on snowshoes. It might be easier for the kids. Snowboarding, which is popular now, too, is a lot of fun.

"The key for a child is that ideally you want to be active most days of the week with at least 30 to 60 minutes of moving around."

MEMBER QUESTION:
My son has asthma triggered by allergies. What kind of indoor activities do you think would be fun? We bowl, but I'm looking for variety.

SOTTOVIA:
Basketball, shooting hoops, is fun for a young boy. If you're in a health club setting you can jog or walk on an indoor track. At a roller rink try indoor roller-skating or ice-skating. Indoor swimming would be good for asthma.

Here we offer half-day indoor camps, in which they have organized a miniclass on martial arts; they play, depending on the age, indoor games like dodge ball, doing like a minicircuit, like a mini-boot camp, run and sprint, and do different activities at different stations.

MODERATOR:
Dr. Sottovia, we are almost out of time. Do you have any final words for us?

SOTTOVIA:
The key for a child is that ideally you want to be active most days of the week with at least 30 to 60 minutes of moving around. That's the national recommendation for children. Sitting at the computer does not count. Out doing something and sweating is what counts.

MODERATOR:
The family that moves together avoids the health risks that come with obesity.

We are out of time. Thanks to Carla Sottovia, PhD, for sharing her expertise with us today.

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