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Indoor Exercise Ideas

Don't let bad weather spoil your exercise plans. Bring fitness indoors.

Finally, some good news about childhood obesity. The New York Times reported, "Obesity Rate for Young Children Plummets 43% in a Decade." Americans may still be growing fatter, but at least our kids are doing the right thing, or so it seemed.

Digging into the story a little, I discovered the news wasn't nearly as good as it all seemed. First of all, the story originated from a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report that classified "childhood" as "2-5 year olds." Children older than 5 either stayed the same or got fatter over the last decade.

Second, when you look at the data, there is an unusual increase in childhood obesity in 2003 that is way out of bounds with the years before and after it. With no explanation for the single year spike, or any unusual events that have been suggested to cause it, the only logical explanation is for it to be an error in the figures.

When you go back a little further to 1999 and calculate what happened, the obesity rate doesn't "plummet" at all. In fact, overall obesity rates INCREASED from 14.5 percent in the 1999-2000 survey to 17.3 percent in 2011-2012.

Our children are continuing to get bigger, despite our best efforts.

Last year I described a dozen things parents can do to get their kids outside and exercising more. Activities like going on a scavenger hunt, collecting shells or rocks, riding a bike instead of driving, starting a garden or going on a photo safari. They're all fun things to get kids (and their parents) moving, but they have one big flaw. The weather has to be nice enough that you can go outside.

When it's too cold, raining or unsafe to head outdoors, there are lots of things you can encourage to keep kids active inside. Here are a few of my favorites.

Get up during commercials. Every time the show you're watching has a break, get up and start doing jumping jacks, running in place or pushups. Alternate between commercials so you exercise when the first one comes on, take a break during the second commercial, exercise again during the third one, and so on.

Once the commercial break has ended, you've accomplished at least a minute or two of exercise. As you and your kids get stronger, you can increase your exercise times to two commercials of exercise, followed by a single commercial break. For the most advanced people, keep exercising during every commercial, without a break at all.

Make exercise a weekly challenge. On Sunday pick an exercise of the week, and learn how to do it properly. On Monday, see how many of that exercise you can perform, or how many reps you can complete in a specific period of time. Take breaks from that exercise on Tuesday and Thursday, but practice it on Wednesday and Friday. Get your family together on Saturday and see how much each person has improved over the week.

The key is to let everyone know they're not competing against each other, they're competing against themselves. The goal is to improve your own time, not do more than a parent or other siblings.

For people with more room, simple equipment can make things a lot more interesting. A hula hoop, jump rope or resistance bands can all be used to teach coordination and build strength. Make sure to clear the area of any breakables first, including checking overhead so you don't get equipment caught in overhead light fixtures or fans.

Even weight training sessions are appropriate for most children, as long as the weights aren't that heavy. In the past, doctors warned that lifting weights could damage children's bones or lead to stunted growth. Today we know that large, long-term studies have shown it to be both safe and beneficial. Resistance training, when done properly, is even encouraged by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Don't use weather as an excuse. Make your home a fitness retreat.

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