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About Me:

Jim Kauffman, YMCA BloggerJim Kauffman is the National Director for Health and Well-being for YMCA of the USA, the national service organization to 2600 YMCAs across the country.  Jim has been with the YMCA organization for 28 years, and is currently responsible for developing tools, resources and best practices for YMCA staff to use to impact the health and well-being of 25 million YMCA participants by 2012.  Jim pursues a healthy lifestyle with interests in skiing, volunteering, reading, cooking and foreign travel.


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Recent Posts by YMCA

Recognizing Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

by YMCA September 11, 2013

New data indicating a decline in childhood obesity among preschoolers is good news – but there is still a lot of work to be done. September is “Child Obesity Awareness Month.” Let’s work together to raise awareness of the prevention and treatment of the No. 1 health concern facing American parents.

One way the Y is addressing this issue is through it’s early childhood and afterschool programs. In late 2011, YMCA of the USA (Y-USA) made a commitment, to the First Lady and the Partnership for a Healthier America, to not only be the largest nonprofit provider of early childhood and afterschool programs, but also the healthiest. To keep this promise, YMCA’s across the country have adopted and implemented evidence-based YMCA standards for healthy eating and physical activity (HEPA.) Now Y-USA is encouraging youth and families to integrate components of the HEPA standards into their at-home routine.

Bringing home HEPA—adding a fruit or vegetable at meals and snacks, sharing family-style meals, making water the primary beverage choice, engaging in daily moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, and role modeling by parents and caregivers—will surely help families reap the benefits of a healthier home.

One of the key components of HEPA is physical activity. Akin to healthy eating, physical activity must become part of our everyday routine to achieve optimal health benefits. At least an hour of play a day will add significant health benefits, but for many families finding free-time can be challenging. Since busy is the new normal for many, families should take the 3-P approach— Purpose, Prioritize, Plan—to accomplishing their physical activity needs.  

Purpose: Physical activity isn’t just for people who compete in athletics, are concerned with their physiques, or have time. Everyone needs activity at different levels.

Prioritize: Physical activity, like brushing teeth, must simply become part of normal day-to-day activities; not an afterthought.

Plan: A family activity plan will help add accountability to the family’s physical activity goals and make it easier to stay on track. The family should plan to revisit, and revise this plan if necessary, as the hustle bustle of the school year takes way; and break up the time if needed, as long as it adds up to an hour, it counts!

Focus on FUN, play first! Don’t be afraid to swap some study time for playtime. Most kids will love to put aside their homework and play with their family and it’s been proven that there is a strong link between physical activity and academic success. Remember, kids who burn more, learn more.

Moderate-to-vigorous activities such as walking to and from work and school, racing to the bus stop, biking, playing tag, jumping rope, commercial break fitness bursts, or after-dinner dance parties are FUN ways to insert physical activity into your daily routine. Not sure which activities are moderate or vigorous? The CDC offers a useful 0 to 10 guide to help you measure your physical activity intensity level.  

Increasing physical activity is one of many healthy habits that can be adopted by families to encourage a healthier future. Visit YMCA’s Healthy Family Home for free resources to support your family’s physical activity goals and visit COAM to learn more about Child Obesity Awareness Month.  What are you doing to help families bring HEPA home?

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Childhood Obesity | Preventing Obesity

Safety in Physical Activities

by YMCA July 16, 2013

Safety is of utmost importance in the Y.  For an organization dedicated to nurturing the potential of every child and youth, improving the nation’s health and well-being, and supporting and giving back to our neighbors and community, the Y engages in many safety related programs and practices so that each person who steps foot into the Y leaves the Y a better, healthier person.

One such program Y’s actively participate in is concussion management in youth sports.  By following the CDC’s HEADS UP program, Ys are using the CDC’s youth coaches and parent HEADS UP trainings so that all adults know how to prevent concussions from happening, but also recognize symptoms and circumstances when a concussion might have occurred, and what to do about it. Along with proper protocols for making sure kids don’t continue to participate in activities should they have sustained a concussion, Ys also have recommendations (and in most states, laws to follow) that determine when and how a child suspected or diagnosed with a concussion can “return to play”.  Regardless of whether kids are active in team or individual sports, organized or “pick-up” games, inside the gym or outside on a field, safe and deliberate procedures have to be followed so that kids get regular physical activity that is safe and healthy.

A second safety oriented program found in hundreds of Ys across the country are youth and adult swim lessons.  As the summer heats up, Y swim instructors teach literally thousands of children, youth, teens and adults how to not just be safe in and around water (pools, water parks, lakes, rivers, and oceans), but also how to enjoy the water for the fitness and well-being benefits it offers.  Whether it be to swim laps, play water games, skin or scuba dive, do water exercises, or just splash around, Y swimming lessons are vital to keeping everyone safe around the water, while also creating another means for enjoyable physical activity.  We all know how hard it is to get some kids out of the water, even after hours of swimming around, playing made up games, diving, or hanging onto mom or dad’s neck.  Knowing how to swim is vital to any child or adult.  Learning how to swim can be fun, especially if done by a trained, empathic instructor, like the one’s you’ll find at the Y.

You may also find bike safety programs, lifeguard training, babysitting certifications, CPR, and First Aid trainings at your local Y.

During these summer months, get and stay active, in a safe and sensible way.  What are your summer plans for staying active?  What safety tips can you share?  Will you be indoors or outside?  Are you planning on trying something new?  Learning or perfecting a new skill?

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YMCA Celebrates Let's Move! Anniversary

by YMCA February 19, 2013

The First Lady's Let's Move! initiative has been embraced by individuals and organizations across the country, and has helped to raise awareness of the importance of healthy behaviors like physical activity and healthy eating. It has also generated additional engagement across all sectors - public and private - in making commitments to help ensure that this generation of children, and those that follow, grow up in environments where the healthy choice is the easy choice. Through the impact of the initiative, we see that Mrs. Obama's role as the First Lady has truly allowed her to influence the daily lives of thousands.

YMCAs across the nation work every day to support the principles of Let's Move!. This work is in the DNA of our organization as a nonprofit committed to youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. For example, traditional Y programs like youth sports, camps and aquatics all engage children in physical activity and contribute to meeting the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Other programs and activities, such as YMCA's Healthy Kids Day and Healthy Family Home, send healthy messages home with families. The two programs are similar to the Let's Move! initiative in that they support children and families in a variety of ways,including encouraging families to play each day, get outside, eat healthier, and connect with each other.

In addition, Ys across the country are working with other leaders to drive strategies that ensure communities are rich in opportunities for physical activity and healthy eating. The Y's Healthier Communities Initiatives - REACH and Community Transformation Grants (funded by CDC) and Statewide Pioneering Healthier Communities (funder by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation) - now reach more than 200 communities nationwide. As a result of this work, many more communities have safe places for kids to play, more miles of walking trails, safe routes for children to bike to school, and policies to support physical activity and healthy eating throughout the school day.

Ys are also transforming their own their own environments to support healthy behaviors. Just over a year ago, we made a committment to the First Lady and Partnership for a Healthier America to adopt healthy eating and physical activity standards in Y early childhood and afterschool programs over the next five years; Ys are working toward that goal now. Many Ys are also adopting similar guidelines in other programs including sports, aquatics, membership, camps, and family programs.

All of these initiatives within the Y support the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, as well as Let's Move! goals. This year's anniversary of Let's Move! is a good time to reflect on how we are contributing to the effort to improve the health of our nation's children. What are you doing or your organization doing to improve healthy behaviors among kids?

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