Five Ways to Encourage Your Child to Exercise

It’s not hard to get little kids to run and climb at the playground. But can you instill a love of physical fitness that sticks after they’ve outgrown the monkey bars?

Once middle school starts, children exercise less. They may lack an adult role model, stay busy with extracurricular activities or think they’re just not good at sports. But exercise is extremely important for kids’ health and development.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children should get an hour of exercise every day. Why? Because physical activity:

  • Builds strong muscles and bones
  • Manages weight
  • Lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Improves sleep
  • Builds self-esteem
  • Increases motivation at school

How can you ensure your children get in a healthy workout?

Make It Fun

If you want your child to enjoy exercise and ultimately stick with it, you need to make it enjoyable. Some children are drawn to team sports like basketball, football or soccer, while others may take a liking to individual programs like track, tennis or ballet.

It’s important to respect your child’s interest so you don’t unintentionally discourage physical activity. Pushing your child to compete in a sport that doesn’t interest him or her can cause frustration or boredom. By the same token, don’t set unrealistic performance expectations. Let your child know that getting exercise and having fun is more important than winning.

Keep It Interesting

Kids can exercise without realizing they’re being physically active — if they can focus on other things. Provided it’s safe, allow them to bike or walk to school or a friend’s house. Turn on their favorite music and hold a dance-off in the living room.

Play a classic game of tag, kick the can or ghost in the graveyard to get aerobic exercise without concentrating on the exercise itself. Skateboarding, rock climbing, ice or roller skating, jumping on a trampoline and bowling are also good options for physical activity that don’t focus on the required effort.

Get Friends Involved

They say friends are the biggest influence in a child’s life. In fact, Time reports that kids are more likely to exercise when accompanied by supportive, encouraging companions. Children work out more willingly and get past the typical excuses when they’re having fun with other kids who enjoy the same thing.

Seek Out After-School Programs

Organized clubs and school programs offer students the chance to experience a sport like running or swimming. Programs such as Girls on the Run and Fit Kids America encourage physical fitness through interactive sessions with trained instructors, and the YMCA and Boys and Girls Clubs offer after-school fitness programs.

Feel the Burn Together

Modeling behavior is a great way to make sure children exercise, so bring them along with you. Take a yoga class together, go for a jog or take a bike ride as a family. You’ll value the time together, and you’ll set a good example for your child to follow as he or she grows up.

Above all, have fun! Allowing for spontaneous play doesn’t just avoid burnout on organized sports; it keeps everyone engaged in an activity that might just create a personal passion later in life.

Have tips on keeping kids physically active? Share them below!

A former newspaper journalist, Chelsea Adams is a freelance writer specializing in health, wellness and lifestyles topics. A native Tennessean, she makes her home in Kansas with her husband and two daughters. Learn more about her transition from the mountains to the prairie at http://wichitawesome.blogspot.com.

Five Beauty Products You Can Make at Home

Your kitchen doesn’t have to be reserved just for cooking family dinners or whipping up your favorite dessert. With a few ingredients and some ingenuity, you can make your own homemade beauty products while saving money and exposure to harsh chemicals in the process.

Ready to cook up some kitchen cosmetics? Here are five common kitchen ingredients that can be added to your beauty routine.

Sea Salt Hair Spray

For tousled “I spent the day at the beach” hair, add six teaspoons of sea salt to six ounces of hot water. Stir until the salt has fully dissolved, then let the mixture cool and pour it into a clean spray bottle. Spa Index recommends a drop of tea tree oil and a teaspoon of any conditioner before shaking up the bottle to finish your solution. Spritz a little throughout wet or dry hair and scrunch it up, squeezing handfuls of hair to remove the excess to get enviable beach waves.

Honey Cornmeal Facial

To give your face a little pampering, combine just a tablespoon of honey with a tablespoon of finely ground cornmeal in a small bowl and mix into a paste. Smooth over your face and leave it for 15 minutes as a mask. Or, for a gentle exfoliator, massage in a circular motion with your fingertips. Rinse with warm water once you’re done.

Sugar Lip Scrub

In a small bowl, combine a teaspoon of any granular sugar with a few drops of a light cooking oil to make a thick paste. Apply just a dab to your lips and rub together gently to smooth the chapped skin around the edges of your mouth. If you’d like, add a drop or two of peppermint essential oil (or liquid extract) for added fresh scent. When you’re done, simply lick your lips clean!

Lemon Skin-Brightening Toner

Combine a half cup of lemon juice, one cup of water and two-thirds cup of witch hazel in a plastic bottle to keep in the fridge. After cleansing and rinsing, apply this toner in an upward, outward motion over your face and neck with a soft cotton ball or pad for a cleanse that will brighten your skin.

Coconut Oil Hair Mask

Smooth a small amount of coconut oil into hair and scalp and let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove it by massaging it out with shampoo and rinsing to dissolve the oil, leaving you with healthier, shiner hair. Coconut oil also makes a great body moisturizer.

Using natural ingredients can be better for your skin and the environment. By making your own beauty products, you avoid unknown chemicals that may irritate your skin. Instead of heading to the spa or salon, look to Mother Nature for your next beauty treatment.

Share your own DIY home beauty treatments below!

Naomi Mannino is a health and personal finance journalist who specializes in helping consumers get the most from their health and financial choices. She enjoys sharing her personal experiences and never writes about anything she has not tried herself. You can follow Naomi on Twitter @naomimannino.

Add These In-Season Fruits and Vegetables to Your Fall Recipes

Not only does fall bring cooler weather, turning leaves and football games, but also an abundant harvest of fresh and healthy foods to incorporate into your daily meal planning.

Keep the following staples on your grocery list for all your fall food recipes.

Winter Squash

Squash soup has long been a favorite on a cold day, but you can also keep things simple by baking squash in the oven and adding a little seasoning for a side dish. Or sweeten up your baked squash with brown sugar or cinnamon for a healthy dessert. When making roasts, replace potatoes with squash for a healthier alternative, or add cooked squash to pasta dishes for something a little different than high-fat beef or sausage.

Sweet Potatoes

Like squash, you can simply bake sweet potatoes and season them to be either spicy or sweet. With their high nutritional value and fiber content, sweet potato fries are becoming more popular than ever over the traditional french fry, since baking them avoids unhealthy fried fat. You can also mash them like a traditional potato or indulge in some sweet potato pie after dinner.

Pumpkin

Speaking of pie, what food is more associated with fall than pumpkins? Rich in potassium, vitamins and fiber, pumpkin isn’t just for holiday meals. Use it in muffins for a spicy, moist treat, or pair it up with pancakes and maple syrup. Pumpkin also makes a great addition to bread pudding and, like squash, make a delicious soup. You can also roast the seeds from your fall pumpkins for a crunchy salad topping or just to eat on their own.

Apples

Baked apples make for a warm, fragrant treat on chilly days. This fall fruit can be used in homemade applesauce, fruit salad or apple crisp with vanilla frozen yogurt as a quicker, simpler alternative to apple pie. You can even grill apple slices to top a gourmet burger with a splash of balsamic vinegar.

Pears

Pears are often the overlooked fruit of fall. Try this subtly sweet fruit in crisps or cobblers for a healthy dose of vitamin C. Try baking them as you would apples, or caramelize them in a skillet for a sweet treat. Pears taste fantastic with Gorgonzola cheese, whether you’re topping a salad or a pizza.

Pomegranates

For a boost of vitamin C, folate and fiber, use the juice for meat marinades or add it to your cranberry sauce for more delicious fruit flavor. Don’t forget pomegranate seeds in salads and dips such as guacamole. Pomegranate also makes a sweet treat when combined with mint, sugar and water to make sorbet.

There are so many healthy choices at the supermarket, so be sure you take advantage of these fall power foods while they are still in season.

Share your favorite fall recipes below!

Guide for Visitors Coming to Chattanooga for the Upcoming IRONMAN

The IRONMAN triathlons offer the opportunity for local and international athletes to test their endurance in an intense competition. While the highly anticipated IRONMAN Chattanooga event will draw thousands of athletes to compete on Saturday, September 27, it’s also great fun for spectators. If you’re going to be in the area, here’s a list of some of the great attractions and events.

Before the Race

Head to Ross’s Landing in downtown Chattanooga on Friday, September 26, to check out the sights. If you arrive early, take a look at the memorabilia in the official IRONMAN store, which is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. throughout the event.

Starting at 5 p.m., you can enjoy live music. The opening ceremony begins at 7 p.m. and is a great way to learn a little more about the IRONMAN Chattanooga competition and the athletes competing in the event.

Watching the Events

Of course, seeing the athletes compete is the greatest part of the day. To see the swimming area, walk down to the Chattanooga Riverwalk. The race sponsors provide shuttles for spectators get to at the swim start, or you can walk 2.6 miles up the river along the trail to watch this part of the competition.

For the biking portion, the best views are at Historic Chickamauga, which you can get to via a shuttle. For the run, you’ll have a variety of viewing areas from which to choose. Your kids can enjoy some playtime at the Ross’s Landing Park before you take a quick walk up Riverfront Parkway to access the area where the runners start their second lap. The nearby Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge and Barton Avenue are also top spots for watching the race.

Grabbing a Bite

If watching all the activity gets you a little hungry, go across the Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge to Frazier Avenue. This street is lined with local restaurants that give a good view of the running portion of the event. Make sure to arrive early, though, since the lines can be long during race day.

After the Event

After the race ends, stick around for an extra day to watch the award ceremony at the Chattanooga Convention Center. If you have more time, take advantage of the many outdoor activities in Chattanooga and the surrounding area. Here’s our list to get you started.

Even if you’re not competing, IRONMAN Chattanooga offers plenty of events and excitement for spectators. For more information, check out the event’s spectator guide.

Three Benefits of Employee Wellness Incentive Programs

Whether it’s a participation trophy, a blue ribbon or just a pat on the back, everyone likes to receive praise for a job well done. Research has shown that workplace productivity increases after the launch of an incentive program, and now many companies are using similar programs to motivate their employees to live healthier lives.

The Rise of Wellness Programs

Workplace wellness programs seek to encourage employees to adopt healthier, more active lifestyles by offering incentives to increase interest and participation. These programs have increased in popularity in recent years. According to a survey by National Business Group on Health (NBGH), 97 percent of employers offer a health risk assessment, biometric screening or other wellness program.

A Variety of Incentives

Incentives can range from gift cards to reduced health care premiums to public recognition. While monetary incentives are still popular, other types of rewards can motivate as well.

“Increasingly the employee perks are not always financial,” explains Shannon Welch, Product Manager of BlueHealth Rewards for BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. “While the rewards could be a contribution to a health reimbursement account or paid time off, employers are getting more creative with intrinsic rewards specific to their organization. One popular BlueHealth Rewards pilot (program) ran last year at a hospital where employees could pick their on-call partner if they participated in specific wellness challenges.”

There are multiple benefits of employee wellness incentive programs:

Improved Employee Health

Healthier employees mean more productive, happier employees. According to the NBGH survey, employees use 70 percent fewer sick days if they’re participating in wellness programs compared to those who opt out. When the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) collected responses from 380 human resources professionals of different-sized organizations, 76 percent rated their incentives as being very effective at improving the health of their employees.

Increased Employee Retention

Job seekers like to work for organizations that seem committed to their employees’ health and wellbeing. A study by Towers Watson and the National Business Group on Health found a connection between wellness programs and decreased employee turnover. Wellness programs can also have a positive impact on how employees perceive workplace culture. A survey conducted by Virgin HealthMiles found that 77 percent of employees believe that wellness programs positively impact the culture at work.

Lower Health Care Costs

Though wellness programs can be an investment, they often pay off in health care savings. Healthier employees get sick less often which results in lower health care expenses, such as doctor’s visits, prescriptions, procedures and hospitalizations. An analysis by Health Affairs found that, as of 2010, medical costs fell approximately $3.27 and absenteeism costs fell by about $2.73 for every dollar invested in wellness programs.

Welch points to a specific BlueHealth Rewards program through one of BlueCross’ larger groups that sought to reduce diabetes among its employee population.

“At-risk employees were required to work regularly with a health coach for a total yearly premium reduction reward of $1,200,” she explained. “If they didn’t call in or [if they] hung up, they stood to leave a lot of money on the table.”

Implementing a wellness program can take time and resources, but a company dedicated to health often reaps the benefits with healthier, happier employees.

For employers: Wellness programs are regulated by federal and state law. Consult your legal counsel before implementing any program component.

Five Rhubarb Recipes for Fall

If the idea of eating rhubarb brings up childhood memories of your grandmother’s kitchen, it’s time to get reacquainted with this diverse vegetable. Despite its tart taste, rhubarb can be used in a variety of tasty recipes like pies, muffins and jams.

Here’s a few recipes to help you add rhubarb to your diet.

Rhubarb Crumble

A traditional British dessert, this crumble is a cross between cobbler and pudding. A recipe from BBC’s Good Food includes rhubarb, thick vanilla custard, walnuts and an optional dash of port. It only takes 20 minutes to prepare and one hour to bake. Just be prepared to convert measurements from the metric system. For example: one ounce = 28.35 grams, whereas 200 degrees Celsius = 392 degrees Fahrenheit.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Due to its tart flavor, chefs often pair rhubarb with sweet fruits, particularly berries. “Farmhouse Rules” host Nancy Fuller from Food Network shares a quick and easy recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb Pie. She uses a homemade crust, but you can use a pre-made crust to save time. Or, go southern with a fried version inspired by Southern Living‘s list of “Portable Picnic” recipes. These hand pies include fresh strawberries and orange zest, making them perfect for brunch or barbecues.

Rhubarb-Pecan Muffins

Want a healthier option that works for a snack or breakfast? This muffin recipe from the Mayo Clinic skimps on the sugar, using more natural sweeteners such as applesauce, grated orange peel and orange juice. The pecans are also a great source of fiber, thiamin and copper.

Rhubarb and Orange Refresher

Quench your thirst with this beverage recipe from the American Institute for Cancer Research, which includes agave and orange juices. For a bubbly version, mix in seltzer with Martha Stewart’s Rhubarb Syrup.

Are you a rhubarb enthusiast? Comment with your own recipes below.

Six Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Run

Every day, millions of people lace up their sneakers and head out for a run. Whether you’re a new runner or have been pounding the pavement for years, here are six ways to make your run safer, more effective and more enjoyable.

Time It Right

Different days may work better for different types of runs. Plan to tackle longer distances on days you have more time, particularly weekends or situations where you can arrange for childcare. When you’re busy, try to fit in a quick 20-minute sprinting session instead.

Get Fueled

Eat a small, healthy snack like a banana, yogurt or half a peanut butter sandwich no less than an hour before your workout for an energy boost that won’t slow you down. According to the Mayo Clinic, if you plan to run for more than an hour, carry extra fuel to keep your energy up. Snacks like raisins, dates or pretzels offer fast-acting carbohydrates that are easy on your stomach.

Warm Up

No matter how fast or long you plan to run, warming up helps get your heart ready for the exercise and reduces your risk for injury. Before you start running or sprinting, jog or walk briskly for 5 to 10 minutes. Consider doing dynamic stretches like lunges and squats to further warm up your body.

Stay Hydrated

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends drinking 1/2 to 1 cup of water for every 15 to 20 minutes of exercise. The longer the run, the more water you’ll need to bring with you. If you plan to run for more than an hour, consider sipping on coconut water or a sports drink, which can stave off dehydration while replacing the electrolytes lost through sweat.

Stretch at the Finish Line

Contrary to what you might have learned in gym class, the best time to stretch is at the end of your workout, after your muscles are already warm. By taking the time to stretch all your major muscle groups, you’ll improve your range of motion, increase circulation and ultimately boost your performance on future runs.

Vary Your Routine

Mix up your runs with long, steady efforts and short, powerful interval training. Long runs can help you slash more calories, build muscle, and increase your endurance. If you want to increase your speed and fitness, do an interval run, a workout that alternates between bursts of speed and rest periods.

Let us know if you have any additional tips to make running easier or more enjoyable!

Consult your doctor before beginning any diet or exercise program.

Try Rock Climbing This Fall

Looking to challenge your body and take in the beauty of nature at the same time? Try rock climbing, one of the nation’s fastest growing sports. You don’t have to go far to find a great spot.

What to look for

When considering locations, you’ll want to know the difference between traditional lines, sport routes and bouldering. Traditional lines use ropes and harnesses, and you place your own anchors in the rock as you climb. This style emphasizes adventure and a little risk-taking — perfect for self-sufficient outdoors people.

Sport routes, on the other hand, already have permanent anchors or bolts in the rock (generously placed by previous climbers), so you don’t need to hammer them in yourself. The fun here pushes you to practice your strength and endurance, along with your reflexes and flexibility on the rock face. You’ll still wear a harness and carry rope, but you don’t need as much equipment for these types of climbs.

Bouldering doesn’t use any ropes or harnesses; climbers ascend and descend without that safety aid, though these climbing routes should be fairly low to the ground with a friend to spot you, according to Outdoor Knoxville.

Where to climb

Some favorite routes to go rock climbing in Tennessee are at the Obed Wild and Scenic River area near Wartburg. Located in the Cumberland Plateau, this area is popular for its numerous crags, overhangs and hard rocks.

The park has routes for all skill levels. The Lilly Bridge Buttress is a great place to start with its shorter climbs and a swimming hole nearby for a relaxing rinse-off between sessions. For bouldering, try Lilly Boulder Field, which accommodates a variety of skill levels.

To learn more about the Obed Wild and Scenic River area, head to the Vistor’s Center at 208 North Maiden Street in downtown Wartburg, Tennessee or visit their website.

The Obed and Clear Creek area outside of Knoxville has a number of sport routes, all with fun names like Born on the 4th of July, Tarantella, Solstice and Maximum Overdrive. Here, you can expect hard sandstone and sedimentary layers — good for climbing all year. The Mountain Project says this ranks as some of the top Southeast sport climbing, with a number of bolts, anchors and other climbing-friendly features waiting for you in the rock.

Closer to the Chattanooga area, try Sunset Rock at Lookout Mountain. This route has 80-foot cliffs and a flat top to relax once you’ve ascended. Located nearby is Stone Fort, one of the locations for the Triple Crown Bouldering competition. This popular bouldering destination with big rocks has routes for all climbing levels.



Just starting out?

If you’re just starting to hone your skill, indoor rock-climbing and bouldering facilities are great ways to learn the ropes. There are facilities in the Nashville, Knoxville, Memphis and Chattanooga areas. Check out this list by Indoor Climbing for more locations. Instructors can teach you proper technique in a more controlled environment before you try the real thing. Safety and education are especially important in climbing.

Rock climbing is a great way to stay in shape, build muscle tone and endurance. So scale new heights and see the world from a whole new view!

Have you ever been rock climbing? Have a favorite spot? Tell us about your experience!

Most outdoor activities have some level of risk, and you may need to consult an expert before engaging in the activity. Always check the current weather conditions before embarking on any outdoor activity.

Five Historic Hiking Trails to Visit This Fall

From early settler life to the Trail of Tears to the Civil War, Tennessee has played a pivotal role in American history. Visit the state’s historic hiking and walking trails as a way to immerse yourself in nature and the country’s history.

Here are five popular hiking trails where you can peer into Tennessee’s past.

The Trail of Tears

In the 1830s, thousands of Cherokee were relocated from the Southeast to Oklahoma. Much of this storied trail goes through Tennessee and has become a National Historic Trail with hikes, museums and other centers to observe this time in history. Meticulously recorded and memorialized by the National Park Service, over a dozen locations throughout Tennessee offer visitors a unique look into this 2,000-mile journey.

Visit the National Park Service’s website for an interactive map, directions and more.

Davy Crockett State Park Trail Segment

This trail is located in David Crockett State Park near Lawrenceburg, just north of U.S. Highway 64. Take a hike through more than two miles of the original Bell Route. Afterward, stop by the park’s museum to learn more about the trail, as well as famous frontiersman Davy Crockett, who lived in this area from 1817 to 1821.

To plan your trip, visit the Tennessee State Park’s website for upcoming events, maps and camping information.

Red Clay State Historic Park

Located outside of Cleveland in Bradley County, this 260-acre park contains a visitor center and a variety of hiking trails. In the center of the park, replicas of old Cherokee buildings are preserved for visitors to see what it was like to work in barns, farmhouses and council houses during the 19th century. This park features Blue Hole Spring, a natural landmark once used by the Cherokees as a water supply for council meetings.

Visit the Tennessee State Park’s website to plan your hike.

Avery Trace Trail

Hike the Avery Trace Trail and follow the path the early settlers took from Knoxville to Nashville in the last 1700s. Many notable people traveled along the trail, including President Andrew Jackson, Judge John McNairy, and General William Davidson. Stop by the visitor center located in the Trousdale County Courthouse in Hartsville to learn more about its history.

Visit Tennessee Vacation to learn more.

Johnsonville State Historic Park

If you are interested in the Civil War, you will enjoy Johnsonville State Historic Park, a 2,000-acre park that commemorates many of the war’s major events. During the Civil War, Johnsonville was the location of a supply depot that played a major role in arming Union troops. Attacked in 1864, the town was rebuilt into a thriving area after the war. It eventually became a historic park featuring fortifications and parts of Fort Johnson that are now open to visitors. Enjoy hiking with more than 10 miles of trails.

Get ready to explore Tennessee’s Civil War history by visiting the Tennessee State Park’s website.

These are just a few historic Tennessee hiking trails. Located across the state, there are easily accessible trails available throughout the year. Pick one to explore for your next outing, and truly immerse yourself in local history.

For more information about other hikes near you, check out the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development.

 

Let us know what trails you plan to explore this year or if there are others we should add to our list!

Most outdoor activities have some level of risk, and you may need to consult an expert before engaging in the activity. Always check the current weather conditions before embarking on any outdoor activity.

Make Your Evenings Easier With Productive Mornings

After a long day at work or school, most of us just want to sit on the couch and relax. But with all the chores waiting for you at home each night, the idea of relaxing in the evenings might seem impossible. Here are five productive things to do in the morning, so you can get more downtime at night.

Do a Load of Laundry

Washing clothes or sheets can be time-consuming. Throw your laundry in the wash as soon as you wake up, then go about your usual morning routine. Before heading out for the day, toss everything in the dryer. When you get home in the evening, run the air-fluff cycle for a few minutes to get rid of the wrinkles.

Pay Your Bills

Give yourself one less thing to worry about during the dinner-bath time-bedtime rush when you get home from work. Schedule a reminder on your phone or tablet if you think you may forget, and knock out those bill payments while you eat your breakfast.

Pick Up Ingredients for Dinner

If you usually swing by the supermarket before heading home, try the trip on your way to work. You’ll not only avoid crowds, but you’ll get home faster and start dinner sooner. If you’re buying perishable items, stick them in a cooler with an ice pack and store them by your desk or take advantage of the company fridge.

Tidy Up After Breakfast

Once everyone has scarfed down their morning meal, it can be tempting to put the used dishes in the sink and worry about it when you get home. But no one wants to walk in the door to a messy kitchen after a long day. To keep morning cleanup easy, make it a rule that every family member clears his or her own dishes from the table, rinses them and loads them in the dishwasher.

Get a Workout In

At first, it can be tough to motivate yourself to work out the minute you roll out of bed, but it’s one of the most productive things you can do in the morning. According to SparkPeople, exercising in the morning helps you burn more calories throughout the day and assists you in getting better quality sleep at night. Sweat sessions also flood your body with feel-good endorphins, so you’re more likely to start your day in an upbeat mood.

Being productive in the morning may take a little extra effort, but coming home at night with nothing on your plate but relaxation is worth a few extra early tasks. In fact, you may never want to go back to nighttime chores again.

What do you do in the mornings that make your nights easier? Share your tips.

Marygrace Taylor is is an award-winning health, wellness, and nutrition writer whose work has appeared in Glamour, Redbook, Prevention, and Women’s Health. You can follow her on Twitter @mgtylr, or at marygracetaylor.com.