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Health & Fitness

How Much Physical Activity Do Children Need?

Girls  PE TeamChildren and adolescents should do sixty minutes or more of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day according to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans set up by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Parents should make sure their child is having fun, participating in a variety of age appropriate activities, and including activity that falls into each of the following categories:  aerobic, muscle strengthening, and bone strengthening.

Aerobic activity should make up most of your child’s sixty minutes or more of physical activity during the day.  This can include moderate activity such as brisk walking or vigorous activity such as running.  Children need vigorous aerobic activity at least three days per week.  Muscle strengthening activities such as push ups, chin ups, or climbing the monkey bars and bone strengthening activities such as jump roping and hopscotch should also be included at least three days per week.

 

How do you know if your child’s aerobic activity is moderate or vigorous intensity?  On a scale of 0 to 10, where sitting is a 0 and sprinting is a 10, moderate intensity activity is usually a 5 or 6.  A child participating in moderate activity will have a faster heart beat and will breathe harder than normal.  Vigorous activity is a level 7 or 8 and the child’s heart rate will be much higher and breathing will be much harder than normal. Walking to school with a group of friends is probably moderate activity while playing a game of tag would fall in the vigorous category. 

 

For more information on aerobic and muscle and bone strengthening activities visit the Centers for Disease Control website.

Busy Body, Better Bones

Nature gives kids plenty of energy.  This helps them stay active for several hours a day.  Physical activity that is especially evident in the years from kindergarten through college coincides with the window during which the bony skeleton fully develops.  Beyond the late twenties, it becomes harder to exercise enough to help build bone mass and strength.  It's during the school years or else.

Every hour that a child spends in front of the TV playing computer games is an hour that could have been spent in the kind of exercise that kids need to develop muscle mass, coordination and a skeleton that could become fragile in old age. 

Compared to those who grew up in the 1970s, today's children already have a lower bone density and an increased fracture rate. Pregnant teenagers have been found to have lower bone mass than they should have, partly because adolescent girls engage in lower amounts of physical activity.

Phillip J. Goscienski, M.D.

Health-Focus Books for Teenagers

How To Get Kids To Eat Great And Love It, by Christine Wood, M.D.Students on Stairs

You Can Lose Your Baby Fat, by Philip Nader, M.D.

Overcoming Childhood Obesity, by C. Thompson and E. Shanley Heavily

Fed Up!, by S. Okie

Food Fight, by K. Brownell, M.D.

Down-aging Disease

                      Strokes, heart attacks and type 2 diabetes used to be diseases of old age. That is no longer true. Each of these life-shattering disorders is occurring in younger and younger victims. In light of this reality we have to contemplate the likelihood that today's teenagers will experience "senile" dementia and hip fractures during middle age. At least in the case of osteoporosis-related hip fractures, there is clear evidence that this is not mere conjecture. Fractures are on the rise in children. "Middle-age" dementia may be on the near horizon.

          High blood pressure, stroke and type 2 diabetes are all on the increase among children and the common denominator is obesity. Hypertension and diabetes develop slowly and may progress without symptoms for years but when stroke occurs it is sudden and devastating. In only 12 years from 1995 to 2007, stroke increased by a staggering 51 percent among men aged 15 through 34. It rose by 17 percent among women of the same age.

          Type 2 diabetes is following the same disheartening trajectory. It was extremely rare only two generations ago but it now represents about half of all childhood diabetes. It is no longer rare for physicians to encounter the worst complications of diabetes, blindness, amputations and kidney failure in patients not yet 30 years of age.

          Nearly 1,000 Americans die of a heart attack every day and for roughly half of them sudden death is the first symptom. Not only are heart attacks occurring among younger persons, the trend is especially noticeable among women.

          Women are also more likely to experience a hip fracture. Obesity is not to blame for this disorder but inactivity is. The current generation of young women faces a fracture-prone future. More than half of today's teenagers do not engage in even a few hours a week of moderately intense physical activity. Their grandmothers may not have been interested in athletics but at least they walked or rode bicycles almost every day.

          If there is one factor that is most to blame for this down-aging of disease it is inactivity. Excess calories, too many soft drinks and too few veggies are contributing factors but lots of exercise can dampen the effect of those poor lifestyle habits. There are many reasons why children get too little exercise, including reduction in P.E. classes, concerns about safety and exclusion from organized sports. It's time to remove these barriers.

Stone Age Doc

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"Get Fit" with Parks and Recreation

Exercise Tips For Kids

Kids often become sedentary with the temptation of television, video games and junk food.  The President's Council on Physical Fitness recommends 60 minutes of daily physical activity per day.  Check out the following link for tips for parents to help ensure your child gets daily exercise and stays active and healthy.  President's Council Article

Fitness Tips For Parents

The President's Council on Physical Fitness recommends 60 minutes of daily physical activity every day.  Parents, check out the following link to help your child get daily exercise and stay active and healthy.  Daily Physical Activity Article

Health Tips

  • Sugar can be a addictive as any drugs
  • More activity = better learning
  • Poor dental health = poor health
  • Tooth decay is an infection that does not heal
  • If parents eat healthy, so do kids