Nebraska Project WILD


Reason #5- Staying Active February 2, 2015

#5 of 5 Reasons I Pull My Kids Out the Door in Feels like -15 Degrees

Remember those grand schemes you had last spring.  Landscaping your yard, getting into shape, getting a head start on the woodpile. Whatever they were do you also remember the crust of inactivity that had taken hold of your body over the winter?  How hard was it to get back into the swing of activity during the months when the ground was in thaw and the sun was out after you got home from work?  Maybe some of us just really never did get back to being active during the warm months out here on the prairie and we are finding ourselves again within the midst of this cozy lure of inactivity during the dark days of winter. (The last two weeks do not count people.  Do not be fooled, it is still winter!)  So…for reason number 5 of 5 reasons why I pull my kids out the door in feels like -15 degrees… staying active.  If we can get out for even a little bit every day, the crust comes off that much sooner when sunlight graces us again.

Okay so this is the statistics paragraph…brace yourself.  Childhood obesity has doubled over the last 30 years and has quadrupled in adolescence.  I realize there are many factors that play a role in this staggering statistic but inactivity definitely plays its part.  With the rise of the technological revolution, over the last 20 years, our lives have become correspondingly less physically active.  The health concerns that accompany an obese or overweight child include bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, social and psychological problems (because we are all supposed to be tall skinny beautiful people).  Children who are overweight or obese are more likely to be so as adults which put them at further risk for such illnesses as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke , several types of cancer…get ready… breast, colon, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, pancreas, gall bladder, thyroid, ovary, cervix and prostate AND multiple myeloma and Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  The rise in childhood obesity has been called an ‘epidemic’ by the Center of Disease Control.  (There are guidelines for what constitutes overweight or obese at the U.S. Health and Human Service National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

This day and age we all know the benefits of staying active and while I’m not overly concerned about my kiddos weight, I am however concerned about the habits they will take into their adult lives.  Here, again, I am trying to fill their tool box with experiential learning opportunities.  Not to teach them but so they can learn, which is hopefully what they will be doing the rest of their lives. Getting out for even short periods of time everyday even in nasty cold weather can create habits that may help them to recognize winter lethargy when they are out there on their own in the world.

So let me wrap up this five part series…Prairie winters have gifts to offer us and our children.  While we may resign ourselves to the comforts of our home during the dark days, recognizing and monitoring the lure of screens in ourselves and our children allow us to cultivate the present moment.  Embracing this season of rest and death reveals cycles of change and how all things adapt and are reborn.  Standing face to face with a winter prairie wind pushes out of our comfort zone and connects our character to our sense of strength and resiliency were we learn what we can withstand.  We learn how to prepare ourselves for a storm; we learn how to solve problems.    These are gifts given to us by this mighty force of nature, winter.

See You Out There!


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