It's winter. Get over it. You're not a bear or any other fur-bearing mammal endowed with the ability to slow its metabolism and hibernate for months at a time. Beyond the lack of furry insulation and metabolic versatility, you'd come out of it hungrier than you've ever been in your life. All of which renders hibernation a much less attractive strategy for coping with winter cold than, say, the Polar Dash. This goes for your kids, too.
Scheduled for 10 a.m. to noon this Saturday, Jan. 17, at Olbrich Botanical Gardens, the event is promoted by Physicians Plus Insurance as an opportunity to get over winter by getting into it. Targeting children 12 and under, the event aims to instill in its young participants an appreciation for embracing winter opportunities to get outside and engage in healthy activities, such as dashing around an outdoor track while pulling sleds bearing stuffed polar teddy bears. In the interests of climatic whiplash, the morning's activities are also scheduled to include opportunities to stroll through Olbrich's Bolz Tropical Conservatory, as well as indoor games, hot cider and snacks the latter provided by Bluephies.
Physicians Plus is marketing the free event as the launch for its year-round "Go Get Out!" program, an initiative that strives to introduce family-oriented fitness strategies that are as fun and inexpensive as they are healthy. The event was founded last year as the iKIDarod, with stuffed huskies and other canines getting the free ride rather than toy versions of Ursus martinimus.
As incentives, participants in the polar-bear-sled-pulling dash will be eligible for prize drawings. Among the prizes: the very sleds dashers use to pull their plush polar-bear teammates. One family of up to five will also win a weekend at Lake Geneva's Grand Geneva Resort & Spa.
It's no secret that childhood obesity has become all but pandemic in the U.S., almost tripling from 1979-1999. With about one in every three children and adolescents now qualifying as overweight, and some estimates classifying 15% of kids as obese, a growing body of research suggests the greatest opportunity to address the super-sizing problem comes before children reach adulthood. By then, established habits render lifestyle changes that much more difficult to execute and maintain -- exposing overweight individuals to elevated risk for heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancers and a sufficient number of other associated medical conditions that add up to an estimated cost of more than $100 billion in the U.S. alone.
To counter such daunting figures, the U.S. Surgeon General's office suggests kids and adolescents make a habit of at least one hour of moderate-intensity physical activity most days of each week. Giving stuffed polar bears a break and pulling their sleds counts toward this goal. So does hauling a sled back up a hill between thrilling descents. It's a slippery slope, of course: Sledding often leads to the harder (and even more funner) stuff, such as Alpine or Nordic skiing, snowboarding, figure- or speed-skating, hockey, snowshoeing, shoveling and any number of other ways people can conjure to get outside and take advantage of opportunities posed by winter's cold and ice and snow.
With no apologies whatsoever to Elvis: a little less hibernation, a little more action.