Appropriate strength training is very healthy for people of all ages. In addition to improved athletic performance, ease of carrying out daily tasks, healthy bone maintenance, and assistance in maintaining healthy body weight, strength training also promotes confidence and positive self-esteem. As part of an overall fitness program, strength training boosts brain health and mental health generally. 

Last year, we instituted fitness testing in grades 4-8 to get a sense of where Rashi fitness levels are compared to researched norms. The process did yield some important data. As a whole, Rashi students fall within the Healthy Fitness Zone as defined by Fitnessgram in all areas except upper body strength. We used a push-up test to assess upper body strength, and we soon realized that this was an area that the Fitness and Health department needed to address.

What is a “Month of Power” and why December?

We are hoping to encourage family fitness, and in this instance, strength exercises among families. We encourage families to spend, in addition to their regular fitness routines, 30-60 minutes per week building upper body strength. Even five minutes a day will provide significant benefits. With a weeklong vacation in December and the usual abundance of holiday foods, family fitness is a great focus. Of course, if you have any questions about the suitability of these or any other exercises, consult your doctor before beginning a strength training program.

What exercises build upper body strength?

Push-ups, knee push-ups, pull-ups, modified pull-ups, flexed-arm hang, seated row using flex bands, and weight bearing yoga postures are a small sampling of effective ways to build upper body strength and receive the benefits of strength training at home. We will be teaching these and other ways to build upper body strength in class, but to really receive the benefits of improved fitness, students will need to practice at home. Please check the video to watch Rashi students performing some of these strength activities! 

Set reasonable goals for your progress based on what you are able to do right now. If you can do ten push-ups right now, fifteen by the end of December might be a good goal.If you can do three knee push-ups, doing five by the end of the month might be an appropriate goal.Find a goal that is reasonable for you, and take a few minutes daily to reach that goal, you might be surprised at how far you can go!

Find ways to make fitness fun and a healthy habit for your child and let that be the focus. Good advice for everyone is to enjoy the process, and positive results will follow.

In good health,

Nathaniel Cutter

Fitness and Health Instructor

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