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Don’t Exercise this Christmas, Just Have Fun! Physio’s Orders

Sharon Galitzer (Physical Therapist) by Sharon Galitzer (Physical Therapist)

Sharon Galitzer (Physical Therapist)

Sharon Galitzer (Physical Therapist)

I'm a pediatric physical therapist and also the sibling of an adult with special needs.

I knew I would get your attention. For most of us, we actually have to schedule time for exercise, or “therapy”.

However, it’s the holiday season, regardless of what holidays you celebrate; it’s time to have fun!

So, I’m here to suggest some ways to get both done over the next month.

It’s all in the presentation. For the child who is amenable to go anywhere and do anything, look into a show, a festival, a museum, an accessible hike, a walk on a boardwalk.

Plan a couple of two to three hour outings for you and your family that will give everyone a little change of scenery.

Plan ahead, prepare everything that you may need ahead of time, and go for it. Bring back up clothes, favorite snacks, and your child’s favorite toys or books.

A change of scenery is important for everyone.

If your child enjoys being outside, choose a short accessible hike or walk that everyone can participate in.

Go slow, stay a while, pack a snack or a picnic, or offer up some ice cream or hot chocolate when you’re all done.

Explore new neighborhoods or be a tourist for a couple of hours in your own town. Just get out of the house and experience something new and novel!

If you want to sneak in some fun sensory activities, work on hand function, attention span, sequencing or upper extremity function, there are many activities to choose from.

Bake cake or cookies with your child, for your family and/or friends.

If your child is old enough to participate in something a little more challenging, you can make a gingerbread house, bread, or even part of the meal.

If your child enjoys art, you can buy water beads and dye them, create a table centerpiece or room decoration, finger paint, homemade play do, or buy a new puzzle.

Just get up and move. Every person and every child can benefit from active movement. The way you move with, or for, your child will depend on their abilities.

You can play a game of body bowling, play I spy with a chart or within a room or the house, or transform an entire room into one big obstacle course with pillows, comforters, sheets, and large blocks of foam.

You can build a fort, or use a gigantic box as a tunnel or cave…

Or simply turn up the music and have a freeze dance contest, classical movement ‘sway this way’ contest where you move the way the music makes you feel.

If your children are old enough, you can create a new tradition of a fun noncompetitive family tether ball, a bean bag toss, a kickball game, horseshoe game, a scavenger hunt in a room or throughout the house, Simon says, or create a self-portrait on a giant piece of paper on the wall.

If you’ve implemented any or all of the above suggestions, you have worked on body proprioception, positioning, static and dynamic balance, strengthening, cardiovascular training, cognitive skills, verbal skills and good old sensory stimulation without even trying.

You had fun, you exercised, and most importantly you created great memories!!!

It’s time to celebrate each other!!

It’s time to celebrate another year in which an insurmountable challenge was overcome!!

It’s time to celebrate looking at your child’s mini victories and plan for your next one!!

It’s time be present with those who are near and dear to your heart who give meaning to your life!!

Sharon Galitzer PT, DScPT,MS,CIMI


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