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Get Your Teenagers Active With These 4 Warm-Up Techniques

Get Your Teenagers Active With These 4 Warm-Up Techniques

Teenagers should engage in physical activity and sports for a variety of reasons. First of all, research has suggested that the teenage years may be the most important in regards to physical and mental development. There are direct ties between physical activity and improved academic performance. Indeed, studies have even shown that physical fitness could correlate with IQ. Taking proper steps to stay fit during adolescence can benefit the way your teen develops on both a psychological and physical level, equipping them with healthy habits that could continue throughout their entire lives.

Engaging in successful athletic challenges can be difficult without a proper warm-up in place to defend against aches, pains, and pulled muscles. Physical activity of any kind puts the body through a great deal of stress, as movements stimulate the muscles and put pressure on the joints. A good warm-up will help to fight against the negative impact of these stressors by gradually increasing the heart rate, increasing circulation between muscles, ligaments, and tendons, and even preventing potential injuries.

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Just as you may struggle to get the best performance out of a car with a cold engine, forcing cold bodies into quick action can lead to muscle damage. Encourage your teens to follow these tips when you’re preparing for a workout in order to prevent injury.

1. Start slowly and build progressively

As keen as your teen may be to join their classmates in sports or physical activities, they should never rush to warm their muscles before an intensive session. A proper workout is something that takes place over time, so the session should start gradually, allowing the body to ease into gentle movements before attempting to push it towards more challenging feats. There is a significant risk of tendon and muscle damage that may occur as a result of overly intense exercise, and this feeling of discomfort can heighten when the heart must work in overdrive within a very short space of time. An exercise regime should never begin with a full sprint; instead, begin with a walk, then a gentle jog, increasing speed in increments.

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2. Focus on enhancing circulation

For the body to work at its peak, every system must be functioning smoothly. The harder the body works, the more oxygen muscles will need to thrive. This means that breathing is harder, and the air inhaled will need to move quickly to the areas of the body that need it most. By starting any activity with a warm-up,  blood circulation can increase throughout tendons, muscles, and ligaments, raising the core temperature of the body and reducing the amount of work required for muscles to contract. As the heart rate increases, and blood pumps faster throughout the circulatory system, limbs become more flexible, and blood vessels dilate, aiding in the transportation of nutrients and oxygen to working muscles.

3. Use dynamic stretching

Dynamic stretching is a proven and effective method of warming the body for your next workout. Dynamic stretching focuses on keeping your entire body moving throughout the warm-up, preparing your muscles for action by enhancing their core temperature and getting them used to movement. Teens should adjust the type of dynamic stretching they do according to the type of exercise or sport. For instance, teenagers about to take part in a basketball game may want to focus more on lateral movement and upper-body dynamic stretches, whereas those playing soccer may need lower-body warm-ups.

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Don’t confuse static stretching with dynamic: traditional static stretches do not give the same benefits as dynamic stretches as they can leave the muscles cold and can actually increase the chance of injury.

4. Remember the importance of balance

Finally, it’s worth remembering that warming up isn’t all about stretching out muscles and getting your heart beating–posture and balance are also critical factors in athleticism. The ability to maintain stability with a small amount of energy expenditure can impact skill development and injury rates. There are two primary forms of balance. The first is static, which is the unmoving option commonly seen in yoga. The second form of balance is dynamic, which focuses on keeping your center of mass sturdy during motion. Dynamic balance often requires a greater deal of energy and concentration, and warming up can assist teens by mentally preparing them for the approaching challenge. The more blood flow increases, the more awareness and concentration will heighten, leading to a more committed and focused athlete.

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Warming up is not only crucial for avoiding the negative repercussions of over-exerted muscles; it also leads to various positive effects during athletic performance. As you warm up, your heart rate, blood flow and lung activity increase, ensuring that muscles receive plenty of nutrients and oxygen. In other words, the right warm-up could help transform any beginner into an athletic expert.

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Published on January 30, 2019

How to Support a Working Mother as a Working Father

How to Support a Working Mother as a Working Father

In roughly 60 percent of two-parent households with children under the age of 18, both parents work full time. But who takes time off work when the kids are sick in your house? And if you are a manager, how do you react when a man says he needs time to take his baby to the pediatrician?

The sad truth is, the default in many companies and families is to value the man’s work over the woman’s—even when there is no significant difference in their professional obligations or compensation. This translates into stereotypes in the workplace that women are the primary caregivers, which can negatively impact women’s success on the job and their upward mobility.

According to a Pew Research Center analysis of long-term time-use data (1965–2011), fathers in dual-income couples devote significantly less time than mothers do to child care.[1] Dads are doing more than twice as much housework as they used to (from an average of about four hours per week to about 10 hours), but there is still a significant imbalance.

This is not just an issue between spouses; it’s a workplace culture issue. In many offices, it is still taboo for dads to openly express that they have family obligations that need their attention. In contrast, the assumption that moms will be on the front lines of any family crisis is one that runs deep.

Consider an example from my company. A few years back, one of our team members joined us for an off-site meeting soon after returning from maternity leave. Not even two hours into her trip, her husband called to say that the baby had been crying nonstop. While there was little our colleague could practically do to help with the situation, this call was clearly unsettling, and the result was that her attention was divided for the rest of an important business dinner.

This was her first night away since the baby’s birth, and I know that her spouse had already been on several business trips before this event. Yet, I doubt she called him during his conferences to ask child-care questions. Like so many moms everywhere, she was expected to figure things out on her own.

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The numbers show that this story is far from the exception. In another Pew survey, 47 percent of dual-income parents agreed that the moms take on more of the work when a child gets sick.[2] In addition, 39 percent of working mothers said they had taken a significant amount of time off from work to care for their child compared to just 24 percent of working fathers. Mothers are also more likely than fathers (27 percent to 10 percent) to say they had quit their job at some point for family reasons.

Before any amazing stay-at-home-dads post an angry rebuttal comment, I want to be very clear that I am not judging how families choose to divide and conquer their personal and professional responsibilities; that’s 100 percent their prerogative. Rather, I am taking aim at the culture of inequity that persists even when spouses have similar or identical professional responsibilities. This is an important issue for all of us because we are leaving untapped business and human potential on the table.

What’s more, I think my fellow men can do a lot about this. For those out there who still privately think that being a good dad just means helping out mom, it’s time to man up. Stop expecting working partners—who have similar professional responsibilities—to bear the majority of the child-care responsibilities as well.

Consider these ways to support your working spouse:

1. Have higher expectations for yourself as a father; you are a parent, not a babysitter.

Know who your pediatrician is and how to reach him or her. Have a back-up plan for transportation and emergency coverage.

Don’t simply expect your partner to manage all these invisible tasks on her own. Parenting takes effort and preparation for the unexpected.

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As in other areas of life, the way to build confidence is to learn by doing. Moms aren’t born knowing how to do this stuff any more than dads are.

2. Treat your partner the way you’d want to be treated.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard a man on a business trip say to his wife on a call something to the effect of, “I am in the middle of a meeting. What do you want me to do about it?”

However, when the tables are turned, men often make that same call at the first sign of trouble.

Distractions like this make it difficult to focus and engage with work, which perpetuates the stereotype that working moms aren’t sufficiently committed.

When you’re in charge of the kids, do what she would do: Figure it out.

3. When you need to take care of your kids, don’t make an excuse that revolves around your partner’s availability.

This implies that the children are her first priority and your second.

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I admit I have been guilty in the past of telling clients, “I have the kids today because my wife had something she could not move.” What I should have said was, “I’m taking care of my kids today.”

Why is it so hard for men to admit they have personal responsibilities? Remember that you are setting an example for your sons and daughters, and do the right thing.

4. As a manager, be supportive of both your male and female colleagues when unexpected situations arise at home.

No one likes or wants disruptions, but life happens, and everyone will face a day when the troubling phone call comes from his sitter, her school nurse, or even elderly parents.

Accommodating personal needs is not a sign of weakness as a leader. Employees will be more likely to do great work if they know that you care about their personal obligations and family—and show them that you care about your own.

5. Don’t keep score or track time.

At home, it’s juvenile to get into debates about who last changed a diaper or did the dishes; everyone needs to contribute, but the big picture is what matters. Is everyone healthy and getting enough sleep? Are you enjoying each other’s company?

In business, too, avoid the trap of punching a clock. The focus should be on outcomes and performance rather than effort and inputs. That’s the way to maintain momentum toward overall goals.

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The Bottom Line

To be clear, I recognize that a great many working dads are doing a terrific job both on the home front and in their professional lives. My concern is that these standouts often aren’t visible to their colleagues; they intentionally or inadvertently let their work as parents fly under the radar. Dads need to be open and honest about family responsibilities to change perceptions in the workplace.

The question “How do you balance it all?” should not be something that’s just asked of women. Frankly, no one can answer that question. Juggling a career and parental responsibilities is tough. At times, really tough.

But it’s something that more parents should be doing together, as a team. This can be a real bonus for the couple relationship as well, because nothing gets in the way of good partnership faster than feelings of inequity.

On the plus side, I can tell you that parenting skills really do get better with practice—and that’s great for people of both sexes. I think our cultural expectations that women are the “nurturers” and men are the “providers” needs to evolve. Expanding these definitions will open the doors to richer contributions from everyone, because women can and should be both—and so should men.

Featured photo credit: NeONBRAND via unsplash.com

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