Family Fun And Fitness: Finding The Best Backyard Playset

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By Jereme Thomas

groupkidswbgFinding something that promises to deliver hours of family fun and helps to keep kids fit and active is not always that easy, but a backyard playset can often satisfy all of these requirements.

Children naturally enjoy playing outside and are always keen to have some fun through climbing, sliding and swinging, which are things you can do when you install a backyard playset for them.

Plenty of reasons

If you need a reason to buy a playset for your kids, there are plenty of them, and when you add them all together it makes the idea of investing in one for your backyard seem like a bit of a no-brainer.

Fresh air and exercise

In a digital age, it is great to see the kids enjoy some fresh air and exercise and soon forget about the iPad when they are having so much fun.

Outdoor play equipment offers the opportunity for physical exercise whilst they are playing. Climbing to the top of a slide before enjoying that quick descent helps children to develop their upper and lower body strength and also improves their cardiovascular health with all that running around.

Good for their health

There are definite benefits attached to being outside that go beyond the obvious advantage of keeping kids fit and healthy through the exercise that a playset offers.

Simply being outside and soaking up some sunlight will help boost their vitamin D intake and some studies also show that regular exposure to mud and dirt, which is part of the fun as far as they are concerned, actually boosts their immune system, which is obviously a positive aspect to consider.

Choosing the right equipment

Kid’s playsets offer a wide variety of different options, so you can have a slide, monkey bars and different combinations of ladders and other equipment to allow them to climb safely.

Although a good playset will have been manufactured with safety as an important consideration, you do have to ensure that you choose the right equipment that is appropriate to the age of your child.

Children develop quite quickly and you will certainly want to buy a playset that offers your kid’s the chance to enjoy at least several years of enjoyment, but it is always advisable to remember that equipment that is fun and safe for a 10-year old, will not be suitable for a toddler.

Look for a playset model that allows you to modify the equipment at a later date but if you are unsure, take advice from the supplier as to what combination of equipment is safe and appropriate for your child to use right now.

twokidsunSuitable and safe

If you have children who are under two, the tower railing needs to be as open as possible with slats in place rather than solid walls, so that they can learn to climb more easily.

A tower for a child of this age should ideally not be any more than five feet off the ground, but a six foot tower might be acceptable in order to keep the playset just as exciting as they grow a bit bigger. A two-child back-to-back glider is worth considering, as it children tend to get the hang of these more quickly than a traditional swing, and it encourages them to use their arm muscles which will help them get fitter as well.

A glider is suitable for ages two and up and you should get plenty of use out of it, as older kids also tend to enjoy riding them too.

Equipment options

Older kids will love using a rock-climbing wall and if you get one with colored grips or rocks, they can play games following the color patterns as they climb up and down. Tire swings are quite popular with kids, but they are quite heavy and can easily knock a child over if they get too close while someone else is on it, so it wouldn’t be advisable to get one fitted if you have kids aged under four.

Trapezes are also best avoided for younger children, as the young ones find them difficult to get the hang of and this can present a dislocation hazard. Monkey bars are another item that are more suited to older children, as they need a reasonable amount of upper body strength and can become dangerous if a young child manages to climb to the top, but can’t then get down safely.

A playset in your backyard offers a great chance to enjoy some family fun and improve fitness, just take the time to choose the right combination of equipment so that they can play as safely as possible.

– Jereme Thomas is the owner and founder of Totally Swing Sets, an online swing set store that specializes in quality wooden swing sets and outdoor accessories. His wife, Nikki, assists in running Totally Swing Sets as the Director of Sales and Service.

5 Steps To Finding The Right Toothbrush

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By Aalia Anderson

toothbrushFrom the time you were a little kid and mom or dad helped you put that fabulously pink or blue sparkling toothpaste on your elaborately decorated cartoon-themed toothbrush, you knew that brushing your teeth was important. It is impossible to overestimate the importance of good oral hygiene, the key to keeping your teeth and gums in check, and to maintaining not only good dental health but your overall well-being. When toothbrushes first came out 80 years ago, everyone used the same one. Now, most supermarkets and pharmacies have an entire shelf dedicated to dental care, and the choices can be overwhelming. Here are 5 steps to navigating the toothbrush aisles and walking out with the right choice for you.

1. Find the right size

The best toothbrush for will have a head that will allow you easy access to all surfaces of your teeth. A toothbrush head that is too big for your mouth may be difficult to maneuver around those hard to reach areas, such as the sides and backs of your molars. Make sure the toothbrush also has a long enough handle, and maybe some gel cushioning for your thumb to make for a more comfortable brushing experience. Some experts say it should be as comfortable as holding a fork when you eat.

2. Choose the right bristles

Toothbrushes come with soft, medium, or hard nylon bristles. For the large majority of you, the most comfortable and safest choice will be a soft-bristled toothbrush. Medium to hard-bristled brushes could actually damage your protective tooth enamel, the gums, and root surface of your teeth, depending on how vigorously you brush them and how strong your teeth are. For the best tooth protection, it’s important to make sure the bristles on your decided toothbrush have rounded tips.

3. Expert Advice

Ask your dentist for a recommendation. He or she will know whether a toothbrush has been quality-control tested for proper cleaning effectiveness and safety. If that isn’t accessible to you, on your next trip to the supermarket or chemist, look for the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Approval. In disposable toothbrushes, this seal ensures safe tips, sturdy and durable bristles, a sturdy handle, and a toothbrush that will effectively reduce plaque build-up and gum disease. If you are thinking about electric toothbrushes, the seal ensures that they undergo additional safety testing in an independent lab to prove that they are safe for use on the tissues of your mouth and teeth, and any dental hardware that may be in place as well. What you do NOT want to do is buy a no-name dollar store toothbrush.

4. Invest in an Electric Toothbrush

toothbrushpasteNow that I’ve got you thinking about electric toothbrushes, let me explain why they might be the best choice for you. Dentists everywhere overwhelmingly recommend them as the best way to keep your teeth clean and plaque-free. You can buy the toothbrush heads in various shapes and sizes, and they all work differently, some oscillating, some vibrating, and some rotating. They also come with a lot of bonus features, like special modes for sensitive teeth, gum massaging, or even whitening. Some even come with pressure sensors that will let you know if you’re brushing too hard, and feature digital reminders to replace your toothbrush head! [source: Oral B]. Most are even packed with extras like toothbrush holders and travel chargers. With all these fancy tricks and frills, it’s no surprise that electrical toothbrushes sport a much higher price tag than manual ones. Starter kits are generally $50 to $75, although some can be as low as $25 or as much as $100 or more. But thinking long term, they most likely won’t cost much more than manual brushes, as they don’t need to be replaced as often. Most importantly, their benefits will really outweigh their costs: they can remove plaque and stains more effectively, are gentle on your gums and teeth, easier to use, can give your gums a gentle massage, and are a lot more fun than a manual toothbrush!

5. Know when to repair your toothbrush

For disposable toothbrushes, the American Dental Association recommends replacing your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months, or sooner if the bristles are starting to look frayed. Once they start to break apart and lose their normal flexibility, change your toothbrush – a visual inspection is better to go by than a strict timeline. It’s also important to change your toothbrush after you’ve had a cold, since the bristles may have collected germs that could lead to future reinjection. Whatever you do, and whichever toothbrush you choose, always makes sure to brush your teeth twice daily, for at least two minutes a session, using the proper technique. Happy brushing!

– Aalia Anderson is a Melbourne – based writer and blogger who is also an avid twice daily tooth brusher. She is a longtime patient of Chatswood Dentists and gathered a lot of valuable information for this post from the experts at their boutique dental practice. They have helped her develop an individually designed home care and dental health maintenance program, and have guided her well in choosing the perfect toothbrush every time!

Finding Balance (Video From The CDD)

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More than one third of U.S. adults are obese. Weight gain occurs when you consume more calories than your body uses. Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight will help you prevent and control many diseases and conditions. The key is FINDING A BALANCE in your lifestyle that includes healthy eating and regular physical activity.

CDC Video Player.  Flash Player 9 is required.
CDC Video Player.
Flash Player 9 is required.

– Courtesy of The CDC

Why Might You Feel Guilty About Finding Health?

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By Dr. Natasha N. Deonarain

womanarmupHas there ever been a time in your life when you felt ashamed of who you were? What about feeling guilty? Propagation of feelings of guilt and shame, whether we realize it or not, play a significant role in the delivery of American healthcare. And unfortunately, it’s women who end up suffering the most.

How do feelings of guilt and shame emerge as we try to pursue optimal health?

First, let’s begin inside our doctor’s office. Say you have arrived there for a health check-up. What’s the first thing your doctor’s medical assistant will do? Likely, he or she will tell you to step on the scale and get weighed.

Stop right here for a moment.

Although your doctor uses your current weight to measure a BMI or to calculate drug dosages, what does the well accepted practice of stepping on a weigh scale do in terms of your ‘thought’ environment? In other words, what thoughts are most likely to emerge from this simple act?

Many of us are concerned about our weight these days. The actual number on the scale may make us feel embarrassed, especially as we have to get measured in front of a stranger who’s carrying a clipboard and pen, and is ready to write that number down.

saladplateWe all know that we “should” diet. We know that we “should” exercise. But as we try and stick to those promises day after day, week after week, we find that we’re only human and yes, we fail despite our best efforts.

Stepping on a scale often evokes a strong emotional response. I’ve even seen women turn around so they don’t have to look at the number, or flatly refuse to get weighed. I know they feel judged, embarrassed and possibly guilty. They know what we’re going to say as doctors: “Jane, you should diet and exercise.” And frankly, they just don’t want to hear it again. It doesn’t mean anything anymore.

In addition to the guilt trip about dieting and exercising, we get measured up against something called “normal.” And all of us seem to fail. Why is this?

Because there really isn’t such a thing as normal, is there? It’s a concept that our society has created to stuff us all into some box which really only serves to perpetuate feelings of guilt and shame. And when guilt and shame form the basis of a healthcare encounter, no amount of preaching by a doctor to “diet and exercise” will ever lead us to optimal health. Those words mean nothing when placed against feelings of guilt and shame.

What’s a better solution then, when many doctors will have trouble wrapping their heads around this idea that we should stop weighing healthy patients?

My solution is simple. If you want to find your way to health, don’t go to a doctor first. You heard right. Don’t begin in a doctor’s office if you want to find health. It doesn’t make any sense to start there.

Doctors have been trained for many years to find a disease. They have not been trained to encourage you in health practices, although they will adamantly insist they are the ones well-equipped to do that. What they will do immediately, is search for disease, any disease, right from the moment you walk in their office door. And when they haven’t found a disease after a battery of tests, they will declare that you are healthy simply because you don’t have a disease. This is backwards logic.

The absence of disease does not equal health.

The absence of disease does not equal health. And so, to begin by asking you to step on a scale and get measured against a non-existent “normal” only serves to keep you feeling judged, guilty or shameful about who you are. This will never, ever help you find your way to optimal health.

So begin here to know and love yourself. How can you do that?

In my next blog, I’ll tell you a few stories of people who were able to find health, lose weight, and look gorgeous…without even trying!

Shame and guilt are powerful deterrents to happiness.

Shame and guilt are powerful deterrents to happiness. They have been perpetuated in the delivery of healthcare, and have served only to keep our minds well separated from knowing and loving our bodies and spirits. Recognizing when shame and guilt play a role in our interactions with healthcare providers will help us develop the strength to find new pathways to self-empowerment, choice, and ultimately, optimal health through the pure joy of living well.

– Natasha N. Deonarain, MD, MBA is the author of The 7 Principles of Health: Your Call to Health Consciousness, now available on Amazon. She is the founder of the Health Conscious Movement and blogs at

Tips For Finding Your Passion In Mid-Life – The Rebirth Of The Authentic You

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By Diane Lang

womanarmupWhen we enter Mid-life, we start having the urge to do something different. We started asking ourselves the questions: “What do I want to do when I grow up?”, “What is my purpose?”, “Who am I?” These are normal questions. Some people will say this means you are in a mid-life crisis. Diane Lang, Psychotherapist, Author and Positive Living Expert, personally believes this means you’re in a positive transition finding your higher calling and purpose in lif e. Lang offers a few tips to follow that will help guide you on the journey to find your true self:

Start off by writing your mission statement — what do I stand for? What are my values? What will be my legacy? Then write out your mission statement without judgment.

* Is your mission statement promoting your strengths? Are you passionate about it?

* When we hit mid-life it’s important for us to help others. We need to feel a sense of purpose in our work. A sense of making a difference. Will you be doing this?

* Will my mission statement be my new career direction or a volunteer cause? Either is fine. There is no right or wrong. It’s just making the right choice for you. You can figure this out by asking yourself:

1. Do I love my career currently? Does my career match my values? Do I feel passionate about my career? If you do, then your mission statement might already match up and you want to add some volunteer or charity work to your life. “A lot of my clients will come to me confused about who they are and want to make changes to their career but that is not always the case. Some people have the right career and will figure out they want to add more volunteer work, family time or socialization. By writing your mission statement you can figure this out,” says Lang.

2. If not, then it might be time to thinking about switching from the job you have to a career that you love. There is a huge difference between the two. We spend about 60-80 hours a week w orking between commute times, time at office and never being off due to technology. With all this time and energy being used, you want to make sure it’s doing something you love.

“Your middle chapter of your life is a great time. It’s a rebirth of the authentic you. Start the new chapter doing what you love and the rest will follow,” Lang says.

Diane Lang is a Positive Living Expert and psychotherapist – is a nationally recognized speaker, author, educator, therapist and media expert. Lang is extremely mediagenic and offers expertise on a variety of health and wellness topics about creating balance and finding happiness through positive living as well as multiple mental health, lifestyle and parenting needs. In addition to holding multiple counseling positions, Diane is also an adjunct professor at Montclair State University.

Finding Balance

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Thank you to the CDC for providing this educational video…..

More than one third of U.S. adults are obese. Weight gain occurs when you consume more calories than your body uses. Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight will help you prevent and control many diseases and conditions. The key is FINDING A BALANCE in your lifestyle that includes healthy eating and regular physical activity.

CDC Video Player.  Flash Player 9 is required.
CDC Video Player.
Flash Player 9 is required.

– Courtesy of the CDC

Finding Ways To Keep Kids Healthy

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familyvectorFrom Your Health Journal…..”A very interesting article in the Daily Herald written by By Kimberly Pohl entitled Finding Ways To Keep Kids Healthy. The article discusses how parents are getting creative with keeping their children healthy. Simple changes like adding pureed vegetables to sauces, trading unsweetened applesauce in place of oil, and using avocado spreads instead of mayonnaise. Most parents also remember finding time to get physical activity as children, but many in today’s era find it very difficult to get their kids outside to play. So many kids are absorbed in sedentary technology habits, or parents do not feel safe sending their kids outside to play on their own to play. Please take the time to support the Daily Herald web site (link provided below) to read the complete article. It was well written and informative.”

From the article…..

More and more parents are getting savvy when it comes to sneaking more nutritious food into their child’s diet.

Adding pureed veggies to sauces, swapping out oil with unsweetened applesauce in baked goods, using an avocado spread instead of mayo — cookbooks are filled with so-called hide-and-eat recipes.

But an improved diet will do only so much if a child remains largely sedentary.

“Parents used to tell kids to go out and play and come home when the streetlights come on, but we’re not comfortable doing that anymore,” said Dr. John Beckerman, a pediatrician in Barrington and Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “There are fewer opportunities for exercise, and we’re seeing the downside of those lifestyle changes.”

Since few kids are bound to like — or stick to — a regimented fitness program, parents are turning to more creative ways to get their heart rates’ up.

Trampolines, for one, have become an increasingly popular trend. Just check out Xtreme Trampolines in Buffalo Grove, which caters to dozens of birthday parties each weekend.

Located at 950 Busch Parkway, the facility features commercial grade trampolines with five separate courts and a giant foam pit. Play dodgeball or basketball, just jump around or even check out “Airobics,” a low-impact workout that mimics different types of sports movements at an estimated 1,000 calories per class, owner Eric Beck said.

“We get some pretty sweaty people in here,” said Beck, who also owns Xtreme Trampolines in Carol Stream. “It’s just fun, especially in the winter when kids find it’s a way to get their energy out.”

Although Dr. Beckerman recommends caution, Beck cites an American Academy of Pediatrics journal article showing Xtreme Trampolines’ injury rate to be 2 in 1,000 jumpers, compared to 15 per 1,000 football players or 21 per 1,000 soccer players.

Dr. Beckerman says our need for a more active lifestyle is crucial given the startling statistics. According to the Centers for Disease Control, obesity prevalence among children and adolescents in the U.S. has nearly tripled since 1980. He also said two-thirds of adults are overweight.

To read the full article…..Click here

Finding Play Areas In Unique Places

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kidsexercisevectorFrom Your Health Journal…..”A fascinating article from (from Australia) called Close roads to let kids out to play – which discusses a very important topic, lack of play areas for children. With cutbacks to physical education, recreation programs, longer hours at school and home work, and many other extra-curricular activities, limited space for play is an important topic. Childhood obesity continues to rise – heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, weak joints, low self esteem, and other chronic illness all tie into lack of physical activity available to children. The article points to one expert who suggests using ‘safe’ roof tops and ‘closing’ city streets as play areas. The article suggests if there are no spaces to build playgrounds, other alternatives need to be used. Please take the time to visit the web site (link provided below) to read the complete article.”

From the article…..

City streets should be closed to cars in afternoons so children can play and rooftops should be turned into safe play spaces, a world leading health and planning expert says.

The proposal by Dr. Karen Lee targets a severe shortage of places for children as schools go high rise, crowded classrooms don’t have enough space for jump rope competitions and residents fight playground plans. Dr. Lee is New York City’s award-winning healthy urban planning expert, who has helped reverse childhood obesity rates in the city and will address NSW government planners today.

She said Sydney’s severe play space shortage could be easily dealt with by opening city roofs and streets to fun.

Space-strapped cities such as Sydney, with neighborhoods that were “fully built”, could host “play streets” for children to skate, ride bikes and scooters without car danger, she said.

“If there is space to build playgrounds and parks then we should do so but we have neighborhoods, already fully built, and we may not have enough play space for the kids,” she said.

Dr Lee said it had worked successfully in NYC, where single blocks were closed to cars at certain times.

“It can occur weekly or every day at certain times and it is opened up for children to play,” she said.

Dr Lee said soccer lessons could be held and neighbors meet to get to know one another.

There was strong evidence that having space for active play increased physical activity in children and adults.

To read the complete article…..Click here