We Americans are overweight. If not carrying excess pounds, then likely unhealthy in other ways – drinking excessively, smoking and/or simply stressed out. That’s the bad news. The good news is that every 365 days there is a January 1st and we can once again all resolve to turn ourselves around. We tell ourselves, “this year, I’m going to eat right, exercise every day, limit my consumption to the recommended one glass of red wine a day and generally take better care of myself.” And then January 2nd comes…. Those with drinking and smoking issues need to look elsewhere for advice; this is the family section. But I have couple simple suggestions to make you and your family just a little bit healthier this year.
Get a dog. No really, get a dog. And not one of those itty bitty dogs that gets enough exercise running around on the front porch of your house. Get a real dog. A dog that needs space has the desire to chase squirrels and wreak havoc in the park when taken off leash. (Dogs are required to be leashed in the city. And know your dog and your ability to recall the dog on command. An unleashed dog with other people or dogs around can lead to trouble. Check out the Summer 2015 issue of the SWQ for info on dog parks.) Having a dog beg you for a walk every day gets you out and exercising, especially in the winter when it takes a little more effort.
Just get outside. Many families in our area rise to the occasion in the dead of winter and can be found on the slopes, sledding, skating at Martin Luther King Jr. or Genesee Valley ice rinks, or simply out for a walk in the winter wonderland. There are those that are out and about in the warmer months but feel like hibernating and eating comfort food when the first big snow hits. If you’re one of them, figure out which of your friends enjoys being outside in the winter and have them drag you out in the snow. Then treat yourself to some hot cocoa (or a little scotch) and warm yourself right back up!
Join a team. Teams are great for kids and adults alike because someone is depending on you to show up. No one cares if you go to the gym to run on the treadmill for 30 minutes but if the soccer team doesn’t have enough players on the field, there is a problem. Adult soccer leagues from the recreational to the advanced level are playing year round at lots of indoor sites. Indoor sand volleyball is another great option for all levels too. What better way to get a person out of the winter blues than to play in the sand?!
Keep the option open, especially for the kids. The YMCA offers lots of great team sports. The cost is minimal, sessions are short and kids can try out something new every season. There are no try outs and all kids get a chance to play. No tiger moms allowed here!
If you have a kid that wants more focused activity or competition you have choices. Even though it’s the middle of winter, there are swim teams, soccer teams and baseball/softball leagues offering indoor options right now. They are all relatively inexpensive, especially compared to many of our suburban counterparts. Rumor has it there are even some suburban families taking advantage of some of these great options.
The Rochester Rapids Swim Team meets at the Adams Street Recreation Center in Corn Hill during the school year and Genesee Valley Park pool in the summer. Instruction is nearly year round and virtually free for qualifying families. For families that don’t qualify it’s still virtually free compared to other sports! At the senior level, participants can swim up to 11.5 hours a week for the entire school year for less than $500, about $1/hour. Compare that to a violin lesson at $50/hour. To join the swim team it’s important to know how to swim. So for kids aged 6-14 that can’t make it the length of the pool, take some free swim lessons at the Adams Street Recreation Center. They’re offered in fall, winter and spring.
Riverflow soccer club is a great choice for kids that have aged out of the YMCA programs or want to take soccer a little more seriously. Travel teams are available for boys 19U (19 and under), 17U, 15U, 13U, 11U and 10U. Girls ages 6-13 have opportunities with Riverflow too. Registration is under way and practices have begun but it’s not too late to check them out.
Baseball and softball are making a comeback in the city! Southside Little League is a part of the larger city Little League program with Genesee Valley and Eastside. Practice fields and home games for Southside are at the South Avenue Recreation Center across from Highland Hospital and Marie Daley Park on Gregory St. Winter ball has begun and registration for the spring is just around the corner. For all of the details check out www.southsidelittleleague.com.
Don’t want to get a dog? Team sports have never been interesting to you or your kids? Just really can’t get yourself outside no matter how hard you try? What about yoga? Maybe this is the year to see what the hype is all about and just give it a try. You’ll ease your way into some movement while benefitting your mind and body. I’ve learned to savasana with the best of them this past year and believe me, it does a body good. Don’t know what Savasana is? If you do nothing else, look it up! If all else fails, rest assured January 1st will be here again before you know it with the chance to do it all over again!