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Strong Women Strong Girls: Mentoring program for girls

Linda Melone, CSCS, is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and certified personal trainer based in Orange County, CA. Visit her website at www.LindaMelone.com.

Mentoring program gets girls fit

Texting, playing video games (aside from Wii and other active games) and sitting in front of a computer may be fun and games, but these activities don't burn many calories. These sedentary activities contribute to childhood obesity, which has tripled over the past 30 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Obese kids are more likely to develop high cholesterol, cancer, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, for starters. Clearly, the dangers for overweight kids go beyond being able to fit into a pair of fashionable jeans. That’s why Strong Women, Strong Girls, a nationally recognized mentoring program, is on a mission to help young girls develop a healthy lifestyle.

Strong women, strong girls

Strong Women, Strong Girls

Developing a healthy lifestyle early is key. Strong Women, Strong Girls, a nationally recognized mentoring program does just that. The program connects girls with college women and puts them on the path from the classroom to the corporate world, or wherever their careers take them.

The program currently serves women and girls in Boston, Pittsburgh and Miami and focuses on relationships, skills and healthy role models. Nearly 100 community centers currently participate in the program, which includes 500 volunteers and the partnership of 14 colleges that provide mentors. Approximately 10,000 girls have participated since the start of the program.

Katina Taylor, the vivacious vice president of the Jason Taylor Foundation, created a 10-week series of video exercises to correspond with Get Active!, a new campaign designed to build lifelong healthy habits in girls and young women. Check out some of them here.

DIY fitness programs for kids

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends 60 minutes of daily activity (which may be broken up into smaller increments) for young adults under the age of 18. If you don't live near one of the community centers, you can start your own neighborhood or family program to help your children and other young kids get and stay active. Here's how.

Quick tips for starting a youth fitness program

  • Focus on fun: Avoid using the word "exercise" when referring to activities. Instead, focus on fun ways to be physically active, and kids will stick with it.
  • Aim for progressive fitness: Start with short periods of activity and give kids rest time until they become more fit.
  • Join in the activities: Let the child pick the activity — and then do the activity with them.
  • Organize groups: Look for group activities to help engage kids with other kids.

Fun fitness activities for kids

Be creative. A treadmill workout makes exercise a big snooze for adults and kids alike. Add an interesting location, a few toys and the kiddos will actually enjoy staying physically active.

Here's a few fitness ideas:

  • Find a local park and simply go for a walk.
  • Play Frisbee in the back yard.
  • Visit your local basketball court or gym and shoot some hoops.
  • Go to a local bowling alley as a family.
  • Have a family game of tag.
  • Go to a local climbing wall.
  • Take a nature hike, collecting leaves and rocks.
  • Go for a bike ride.
  • Run with the family dog — or offer to walk the neighbor's dog.

Once you've run through your own ideas, speak with a certified fitness professional or your child's physical education teacher to help you take the next step. The point is: Even if the youths in your area don't have access to the Strong Women, Strong Girls locations, you can be a health mentor to your own children as well as to other kids in your locale.

More fitness ideas for kids

Wallie exercises: A fun kid-friendly workout
Kids' fitness: The power of positive thinking
How to encourage outdoor play

Photo credit: Swsg.org
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