Information and activities are from the "Fitness Head To Toe" tab from the NIE Institute.
Who gets on you about fitness? Does your mom bug you to eat your veggies? Does your gym teacher want you to run a mile in 12 minutes? Do you have a friend who always pesters you to play softball, basketball or soccer?
Good! It never hurts to get a little fitness push. But there comes a time when you have to start pushing yourself. Like now. You’re old enough to make decisions about eating and exercise that can affect what type of adult you’ll be — a cool mover or a couch potato.
A STRONG ARGUMENT
Strength is a type of fitness measured by how much force you can exert with your muscles. You think of strength when you see a body-builder, but that image keeps many people — especially girls — from exercising to build muscles. You don’t have to be big, though, to get the benefits of strong muscles. Here are strong arguments for building strength:
1. You’re better able to lift heavy stuff and less likely to hurt yourself doing it.
2. You give shape to your body with wellformed muscles.
3. You’re burning more energy (calories) all the time because muscles burn energy.
4. You can do better in sports, games, and every day activities.
Of course, it’s one thing to want well-developed muscles; getting them is another matter. Building muscles happens naturally when you chop wood or lift heavy boxes. You can target muscle development by lifting weights or doing exercises such as curl-ups or push-ups.
The best way to build muscle strength is to lift weights two or three times a week, usually by working out on weight machines that target different muscle groups. Your doctor might discourage lifting weights until your body matures; be sure to ask.
If you need a more organized approach, give your index finger a workout by calling fitness clubs in your area. A good club, or gym, has tons of exercise equipment — treadmills, weight machines, and stationary bicycles — as well as exercise classes and a swimming pool. Some clubs charge a fee, while other facilities are free or offer reduced rates. The big advantage of belonging to a club is that a workout expert is usually on hand to make sure that you are using the equipment — and your muscles — safely and effectively.
Steering Clear of Steroids
Athletes are always looking for an edge over the competition. Some of them have turned to drugs known as anabolic steroids in hopes of getting bigger, stronger, and faster. Non-athletes, too, might be tempted to bulk up with steroids. But unless they’re prescribed by a doctor, steroids are the wrong turn. While steroids can add to muscle mass, they can also cause acne, violent mood swings, and permanent damage to your body. Taking steroids to get muscles can be like setting yourself on fire to get warm — very dangerous.
ACTIVITIES 1. Look in the newspaper for a photo of someone with a body you admire. How did he or she get to be that way? As a class, discuss which features of fitness and appearance are within our control and which are not.
2. In small groups, look in the sports section and make a list of every sport mentioned. Next, rank each one according to how much the competitors rely on muscle strength. The more brute strength required, the higher on the list.
3. How much does your newspaper weigh? Design an exercise that uses newspapers (rolled up, flat, or spread out) to build muscles.