Back-to-school health.

The new school year has just begun for families in central Ohio. Summer naturally lends itself to outdoor fun, decreased appetites and in general, more physical activity for the whole family. As fall approaches, many people shift gears and settle into a more predictable and often sedentary routine.

Are you ready to stay fit or get healthy now that the kids are back in class? I find that many clients are more ready to make a commitment to their own health once their children go back to school. Today more than ever it is important to be positive role models for our kids. Childhood obesity and diabetes are on a meteoric rise. Refined sugars and fattening food lurk in every aisle of the grocery store. With the fast pace of society, it is extremely difficult to make healthy eating choices without sound planning.

In addition to meal planning, it is essential to plan your fitness in order to achieve your best body. To complement your healthy eating, you must blend the right amount of strength training and cardiovascular exercise to stay fit. It is always much easier to exercise a little more and eat the same then to drastically modify your eating.

Below I will give you seven tips for better personal and family health as well as maximizing your exercise efforts. Quality and consistency in exercise are far more important than quantity. Setting clear expectations and embracing an effective routine is crucial. Consider these suggestions:
Develop a family mission statement in regard to health and fitness. Encourage your children to be active by sharing the benefits of exercise and your own personal efforts to remain fit and healthy. Your children are always watching you so lead accordingly. Strive to eat protein and fibrous carbohydrates at each meal or snack during the day to maintain optimal levels of blood sugar and reduce urges to binge eat and snack all day long. Drink at least 64 fluid ounces of water daily -- use flavored water if you do not like plain water. It will help you lose weight and flush out waste products/toxins from the body. Write down realistic timely goals for weight, body fat and strength/endurance -- this allows you to track your progress and will keep you focused on attaining something tangible rather than aimlessly working out with no purpose. Perform 2-3 days of circuit-style strength training per week with 2-3 exercises in each circuit to ramp up workout density, increase metabolism and shorten total time needed to workout. Do 3-4 circuits (2-3 times each) with no more than 1-2 minutes of rest between each circuit. Circuit-style training with minimal rest allows you to get a great workout in about 30-40 minutes tops. Add 15-25 minutes of cardio immediately following the strength workout to maximize fat metabolism and caloric burning. Use a heart rate monitor to measure intensity and make sure you are at least 70 percent of max heart rate for best results. In addition to these tips, consult your physician or local fitness expert to ensure you are ready to engage in a full workout program. Once you have a full assessment and a clear vision, commit to exercising for 3-5 days per week. Consider taking your kids to the gym as well, or participating in recreational activities with them like basketball, soccer or swimming, to enjoy more quality time together, while developing a lifelong habit of exercising. Your actions and lifestyle will prove to be the difference for your children and future generations. Now is the time lead by example and leave a lasting legacy for your family.


Brian Schiff, owner of Fitness Edge, is a nationally-known sports and fitness training expert, specializing in injury prevention and return to play for professional and amateur athletes of all ages. Fitness Edge now offers Adventure Boot Camp for Women in Dublin, Westerville, Upper Arlington and Grove City. www.thefitnessedge.cc.