FAMILY HEALTH

There's a lot of talk these days about fit kids. People who care (parents, doctors, teachers, and others) want to know how to help kids be more fit. Being fit is a way of saying a person eats well, gets a lot of physical activity (exercise), and has a healthy weight. If you're fit, your body works well, feels good, and can do all the things you want to do, like run around with your friends. 

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD

OUR CHILDREN MUST BE ACTIVE

We have an event that can strengthen your child's immune system, benefit their heart, improve their balance, strengthen their bones, etc. In actuality, our event can benefit people of all ages, weight, and fitness levels.

One job we should have for our children is to have fun and be healthy! Parents, doctors, teachers, and others can be a big help if we want our children to be fit. For instance, we can stock the house with healthy foods and plan physical activities for the family. Fit children can lead to a fit mom and a fit dad.

In a country where one third of children and adolescents are overweight or obese, parents have a tough job. Maintaining a child’s self-esteem can be tricky when a parent is trying to enforce a healthy relationship with food and exercise. But there are ways to encourage an active lifestyle without promoting unhealthy habits.

Excess weight can lead to health problems such as asthma, joint pain, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Overweight children also may experience teasing, bullying and depression. Instead of focusing on weight loss, engage in discussions of healthy eating and physical activity.

Parents should avoid hurtful comments that could lead to further unhealthy habits. According to a study in JAMA Pediatrics based on a large sample of teens and parents, children whose parents talked to them about eating by focusing on weight or size were more likely to adopt unhealthy behaviors such as extreme dieting, fasting or binge eating. Children whose parents focused on healthy eating and avoided judgmental statements were less likely to develop eating problems.

KIDS’ PHYSICAL ACTIVITY BEFORE AGE 5 MATTERS SO MUCH BECAUSE OF THEIR DEVELOPING BRAIN

Exercise affects the brain in many ways. It increases heart rate, which pumps more oxygen to the brain. It aids the release of hormones which provide an excellent environment for the growth of brain cells. Research from UCLA even demonstrated that exercise increased growth factors in the brain which makes it easier for the brain to grow new neuronal connections.

GROWING EVIDENCE ON PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE

A growing body of research suggests a connection between a child’s health and wellness and their academic success and capacity to learn. Miller, Gilman, and Martens (2008) examine the relationship between mental and physical health; they consider wellness to be vital to students’ success in school. Furthermore, a GENYOUth Foundation (2013) report stated, “WE CAN’T MAKE KIDS SMARTER, BUT WITH IMPROVED NUTRITION AND PHYSICAL ACTIVITY, WE CAN PUT A BETTER STUDENT IN THE CHAIR”

Regular participation in physical activity and higher levels of physical fitness have been linked to improved academic performance and brain functions, such as attention and memory. These brain functions are the foundation for learning. It is incumbent on schools to maximize students' potential to learn.

We need to continue to engage students in team, group, and partner sports. Research shows that children are learning many social skills through sports, games, and other physical activities. American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) underscores the importance physical activity plays in children's overall health, including their social and cognitive development. Physical activity has both immediate and long-term health benefits.

THE COMPELLING LINK BETWEEN PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND THE BODY'S DEFENSE SYSTEM

THE BODY CAN DEFEND ITSELF

Germs are everywhere! You're surrounded by all kinds of creepy crawlies, from bacteria to viruses to fungi. I'm not saying this to turn you into a germophobe. In fact, most of them are perfectly harmless, but there are some that can wreak havoc on your body. And it's because of those few, the ones that cause you to get sick, that our bodies have a sophisticated set of defense systems both inside and out. Let's talk about how these defense systems work.

If a virus or bacteria, for example, finds its way into your body a balanced immune response can go completely unnoticed, as the body’s different types of white blood cells identify and eliminate pathogens and signal other cells to begin the healing process.

  • Exercise is an immune system adjuvant that improves defense activity and metabolic health.
  • Data support a clear inverse relationship between moderate exercise training and illness risk.
  • Exercise training has an anti-inflammatory influence mediated through multiple pathways.
  • Increased carbohydrate and polyphenol intake is an effective nutritional strategy for immune support.
  • Habitual exercise improves immune regulation, delaying the onset of age-related dysfunction.
  • Advances in mass spectrometry technology will provide new insights on exercise–immune responses.

EXERCISE REWARDS AND BENEFITS

  • Exercise benefits every part of the body, including the mind. Exercising causes the body to make chemicals that can help a person feel good. Exercise can help people sleep better. It can also help some people who have mild depression and low self-esteem. Plus, exercise can give people a real sense of accomplishment and pride at having achieved a goal — like conquering the Brutal Fitness Challenge Obstacle Course. 
  • Take advantage of your child's natural tendency to be active. Regular physical activity promotes healthy growth and development and learning new skills builds confidence.  
  • Besides enjoying the health benefits of regular exercise, fit kids sleep better. They're also better able to handle physical and emotional challenges — from running to catch a bus to studying for a test. 
  • Preschoolers 3 to 5 years old should be active. Children this age are learning to hop, skip, and jump forward, and are eager to show off how they can balance on one foot, catch a ball, or do a somersault. 
  • By the time kids are 3 to 5 years old, their physical skills, like running, jumping, kicking, and throwing, have come a long way. Now they will continue to refine these skills and build on them to learn more complex ones. 
  • Guidelines from the Department of Health and Human Services say that children and adolescents age 6 and older need physical activity in their life. Exercise can give children a real sense of accomplishment and pride at having achieved a goal — like conquering the Brutal Fitness Challenge Obstacle Course.

 

SOURCES:

www.developingchild.harvard.edu/

www.scientificamerican.com/

www.mayoclinic.org/

www.sciencedirect.com/

www.kidshealth.org/

www. study.com/