Children's Health Month

I’ve recently discovered that October is Children’s Health Month, and as a health professional and parent of 2 young girls I think we all need to think a little about the importance of this topic. There are many components to consider when teaching, and maintaining health in our children. Safety around the home and on the playground is certainly important factors along with teaching a healthy lifestyle and good fitness habits. Health and fitness is my passion, so here are a few of my thoughts on this topic.

First off, I think most of us realize the growing epidemic of overweight and obese children that is staring us in the face here in the U.S. This is a big problem, and I think we should all take on some form of responsibility for this. This applies to anyone that may have a child, grandchild, niece or nephew, or any type of relationship with child.

The U. S. Department of Health and Human Services through its 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, advocates 60 minutes or more of physical activity daily for children and adolescents. This activity should include moderate to vigorous aerobic activity as well as muscle & bone strengthening.
Now ask yourself this question….is your child getting 60 minutes daily? I know it can be difficult, especially with vigorous activities but I think there a lot of options for staying active.

Forming good habits at a young age I believe is a great way to start. This can apply to all aspects of health, from limiting the amount of time you sit and watch television, to being active and developing good eating habits. I think this also comes from being a good role model. Parents need to lead by example in all areas of health. I know kids are bombarded with all kinds of information and they will grow up to make their own choices, but parental modeling makes a significant impact on these choices.

Sports…most kids love some kind of sport. There is something for everyone. If your child is not part of a local sports team then try and get them involved. It is a great way to be active and a way for them to develop new friends at the same time.

Family fun days are another way to get your child active. Family bike rides, a day at the zoo, or hiking are always fun. Any activity where you have to get out and about will be beneficial.

Active video games are also a way to get them up and moving about. I know it is often times hard to pull them away from the video games, so get the games that require them to get off the couch. The Wii has many active programs that the entire family can participate in and have fun.

My last little tip addresses the topic of more advanced fitness or sport specific training. If you happen to have a child that is very heavily involved in several sports or one particular sport, I am sure you have some questions.

First I am of the opinion that you let your child play various sports but limit that to one per season. I am familiar with the higher level travel teams and the long seasons for some sports but kids need to rest and be engaged in other activities. I am also not a proponent of focusing on only one sport, especially at the younger ages (under 16 yrs.). The physical and emotional benefits of participating in other activities are huge, and could really help with the primary sport. Children need to build upon fundamental movement patterns they developed in the first several years of their lives. Sometimes they even lack these patterns or are delayed in developing them (which is another topic for later), so other sports can help in this physical development. Higher skill development needs a strong fundamental base and this is one way to help with that. If you are really interested in making sure your child has some sort of competitive advantage in one sport, then that is when I recommend personal coaching/training. You can visit my blog for additional information on this topic.

So let’s take a little time away from our daily activities this month and focus on our children’s health and fitness. Are they getting what they need? Are they eating healthy? Let’s do our part in helping the children.

Posted under Exercise Tips, Golf Fitness for Juniors

This post was written by Mark Tolle on October 17, 2009

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My Future Junior Golfers!

My girls are now 4 an 2 1/2 and are very active. I love watching their physical skills and coordination develop. My oldest has been taking a gymnastics class for a while and loves it. My 2 1/2 yr. old will begin next week. Developing fundamental movement skills is something I always focus on with my clients (and my girls). It is key in learning specific sports skills such as that needed in golf. The reason I am a big fan of gymnastics is because they are using their body weight when developing strength and coordinated movements. It is also fun and they can develop at their own pace. I have started using a lot of body weight exercises in the training of both adults and children. In my opinion you can’t beat it when it comes to developing fundamental movement skills.

Free play is also a good way to develop and reinforce fundamental movement patterns. I came across this article recently that discussed the issue of exercise and sport in young children. If you have any young golfers at home check out this article here.

Posted under Golf Fitness for Juniors

This post was written by Mark Tolle on September 9, 2009

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Jack Nicklaus Concerned About Junior Golfers

I came across a recent short article regarding junior golfers specializing in golf. Essentially the discussion was about, how many competitive junior golfers only participate in the sport of golf and didn’t play other sports. I guess I can say that Jack and I think alike regarding this topic.

Jack explained that when growing up he played all kinds of sports and never focused just on golf until he was about 19. His recommendation to young golfers today is to do the same. Play other sports and give golf a little rest.

I know today is a different form growing up in the 50’s. Today junior golfers often times receive constant personalized instruction as well as work with a golf fitness specialist, and sometimes even a sports psychologist. The point is, parents go a little overboard in developing their little golfers.

From a physical or athletic perspective it is my belief and experience that kids (up to 16-18 yrs) would benefit from playing other sports. It aids in developing coordination, basic movement patterns, overall fitness, and even has emotional benefits. It also gives them a break from the grind of becoming a competitive golfer. I know parents worry about injuries occurring from playing another sport, but I think the benefit outweighs that risk.

So I think Jack has it right, junior golfers should be involved in other sports and activities. Give them a break, let them be kids.

Posted under Golf Fitness for Juniors

This post was written by Mark Tolle on November 21, 2008

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Are We Aware Of The Physical Development Of Our Children?

Since the birth of my 2 young girls (21 months & 2 months) I have developed a keen awareness and curiosity of their motor & cognitive development. I know this is a normal parental interest and it certainly brings my wife and me joy on a daily basis.

But I also wonder about those young golfers out there that have so quickly fine tuned their golf skills and motor programs. Now I am not saying I plan to turn my girls into premier LPGA players, but I am wondering, how we know if our children are getting the proper stimulation as they grow and develop. The fact is often times they are not.

I talk a lot about the importance of good posture, correct muscle function, and quality movement, but I also recognize the fact that many children do not get the proper stimulus or the correct amount needed to develop coordination and proper skills. It is generally accepted that physical activity is a key component to proper development and I know a lot of children just do not get the physical activity they need and deserve.

I want to tell you about a colleague I have been interacting with that actually specializes in working with children that have some degree of developmental delay. Her name is Cara Lindell and she can be found at Her program is called Kinetic Connections and she essentially targets your child’s neuromuscular coordination to help improve focus, academic skills, recreational abilities, and socialization. I have observed her work and she is making a significant impact on children’s lives.

So if you or someone you know is trying to help a child become a little more coordinated or to overcome some developmental barriers please visit her website to see how she can help.

Posted under Golf Fitness Chicago News, Golf Fitness for Juniors

This post was written by Mark Tolle on November 20, 2008

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