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Your Teen

90% of High School Kids Need More Exercise


Nine out of ten high school students are not exercising enough to stay healthy and fit, setting up a pattern that often continues after they graduate, according to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics.

Researchers followed students at 44 high schools for four years, and found that only 9 percent met current exercise recommendations throughout that time. For the most part, those habits held steady after high school -- though college students were more active than non-students.

For students that continued to college, those living on campus exercised more than those living at home.

It's not clear why those students were more active. They might have been more involved in sports, for example, or simply walked more -- running from classes to dorms and other campus buildings, said lead researcher Kaigang Li.

"The walkability of your environment is important," said Li, an assistant professor of health and exercise science at Colorado State University, in Fort Collins.

This is not the first study to look at the physical condition of high school and college students.  Several other studies have found that these two groups struggle with getting enough meaningful exercise. 

According to Peter Katzmarzyk, a professor at Louisiana State University's Pennington Biomedical Research Center, in Baton Rouge, "This study really confirms the low levels of physical activity in adolescents, which appear to be maintained over time as they transition into young adulthood."

The strength of this study, he said, is that it objectively measured teens' activity levels: Students wore devices called accelerometers, which tracked how much they moved over the course of a week.

Katzmarzyk, who was not involved in the study, conducts research on child exercise patterns, obesity and health.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), teenagers should get at least one hour of physical activity each day that includes exercise that boosts the heart rate, such as running. Kids should also try some strength-building activities -- for example, push-ups or lifting light-weights.

The CDC noted that a lack of physical education in U.S. schools may be a contributing factor in students’ understanding of exercise and how it can improve their health. 

At one time, PE was a part of every student’s daily school activities, today, according to the CDC, only 29 percent of high school students have gym class every day.

The evidence from this new research and other studies makes a good argument for more physical education, according to Katzmarzyk.

"Any way that we can increase physical activity levels in adolescence might translate into maintaining higher levels of physical activity in young adulthood," he said. "So physical education in high school is certainly an important outlet for this."

Still, Li said, there are probably numerous reasons for teenagers' low exercise levels.

He noted that in elementary school, most U.S. kids do get enough physical activity. But there is a steep drop-off after that. According to Li, that could be related to many factors -- including heavier homework loads starting in middle school, and more time on cellphones and computers.

While schools and communities can advance opportunities for kids to be more physically fit, families that put a high priority on exercise and a healthy lifestyle give their children the ability to independently remain physically fit for a lifetime.

Story source: Amy Norton,

Your Child

Exercise Boosts Kids’ Grades!

2:00 to read

We all know that exercise is good for the heart, lungs, weight-control and now a new study suggests that it’s good for increasing academic performance as well.

The Dutch researchers reviewed several prior studies conducted in the United States, one from Canada and another out of South Africa. What they discovered was that all the studies showed that the more physically active students are, the better they do in the classroom.

"We found strong evidence of a significant positive relationship between physical activity and academic performance," the researchers, led by Amika Singh of the Vrije Universiteit University Medical Center at the EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, said in a journal news release.

"The findings of one high-quality intervention study and one high-quality observational study suggest that being more physically active is positively related to improved academic performance in children," the authors noted.

A total of 14 studies were reviewed. They involved students between the ages of 6 and 18. Some studies were smaller, working with 50 students, while another study had as many as 12,000 students. 

Researchers noted that students who exercised had increased blood flow and oxygen to the brain. These school-age children did better in the schoolroom. The analysis suggests that exercise also increases the levels of hormones responsible for curtailing stress and boosting mood, while at the same time establishing new nerve cells and synapse flexibility.

In recent years, there has been increasing evidence that has shown that many functions of the brain are highly dynamic, or “plastic”, meaning that the brain is able to continually change in response to stimulus and experience. This flexibility is thought to be a key property in allowing the nervous system to support short-term and sustained changes in output, associated with learning and memory.

Other studies have shown that people with early dementia benefit from exercise. Again, the increased blood flow and oxygen to the brain helps improve memory and learning function.

So, getting the kids off the couch and onto the playground (no matter whether it’s a public playground or the backyard) can help children stay physically fit and mentally alert.

The Dutch researchers would like to see more high quality studies conducted in this area of investigation.

"Relatively few studies of high methodological quality have explored the relationship between physical activity and academic performance," they acknowledged. "More high-quality studies are needed on the dose-response relationship between physical activity and academic performance and on the explanatory mechanisms, using reliable and valid measurement instruments to assess this relationship accurately."

It’s a pretty safe bet though, that the more a family exercises together, the healthier everyone will be.

The findings are published in the January issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Sources: /

Your Child

Kids Who Specialize In One Sport Have More Injuries

Kids who came to the clinic with injuries played organized sports an average of 11 hours a week, compared with fewer than nine hours in the uninjured group. Although the researchers did not specifically look at this, Jayanthi said he has noticed that more highly specialized sports such as tennis, gymnastics and dance tend to be linked to more severe overuse injuries.Because a child’s body is still growing, children who specialize in only one sport suffer repetitive injuries more often, a new study says.

In fact, kids are twice as likely to get hurt –playing just one sport- as those who play multiple sports said Dr. Neeru Jayanthi, medical director of primary care sports medicine at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. "We saw a pretty significant difference with this intensity of training, along with specialization," said Jayanthi. The findings are slated to be presented Monday at the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine annual meeting in Salt Lake City. Research presented at medical meetings should be viewed as preliminary. "It's been accepted for the last five years or so that kids who are not super-specific do better. They're cross-trained, so they're conditioned for other movements," said Dr. Kory Gill, an assistant professor at Texas A&;M Health Science Center College of Medicine. Jayanith’s research team had done earlier studies on 519 junior tennis players and found that the kids who only played tennis were more likely to get hurt. Jayanthi wanted to see if the same findings extended to other sports. "As a physician, you get frustrated seeing kids come in with injuries that keep them out for two to three months. It's devastating," said Jayanthi, who recently saw a young gymnast with a knee injury that will keep her off the mat for at least three months. Here, the researchers looked at 154 young athletes, average age 13, who played a variety of sports. Eighty-five of the participants came to the clinic for treatment for a sports injury, while 69 were just getting sports physicals. The investigation ranked each athlete on how specialized they were, basing the score on factors like how often they trained in one sport, whether they had given up other sports to practice just one, and if they trained 8 months a year or more to compete more than 6 months a year on one sport. What they discovered was that 60.4 percent of the athletes who had been injured were specialized in one sport, compared with only 31.3 percent who came in for physicals. Kids who came to the clinic with injuries played organized sports an average of 11 hours a week, compared with fewer than nine hours in the uninjured group. Although the researchers did not specifically look at this, Jayanthi said he has noticed that more highly specialized sports such as tennis, gymnastics and dance tend to be linked to more severe overuse injuries. Why did these injuries occur? "One reason is repetitive use of the same muscle group and stressors to growing areas, for example, the spine," explained Jayanthi, who stressed that the findings were preliminary. His team, in collaboration with Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago, plans to enroll more athletes in follow-up research, and those athletes will be evaluated every six months for three years, to look more closely at how intense training can affect a young athlete's body during growth spurts. "Second is exposure risk," he added. "If you're getting really good at one sport, the intensity increases because you are getting better. People are developing adult-type sports skills in a child's body. The growing body probably doesn't tolerate this." Younger children -- those who have not entered high school -- tend to be especially vulnerable as their bodies are still growing, said Gill, who recommended that kids cross-train and condition for other movements, or just play another sport. "I tell parents to let kids be kids and play multiple sports," he said. "See what they're good at and what they enjoy." By high school, when bodies are more mature, specializing is safer, he added. When children play different sports in different seasons, they are using a wide range of motions and muscles. But when they begin playing one sport year-round, the risk of overuse injuries increases.

Your Child

Brief Exercise May Help Prevent Type2 Diabetes in Kids


Type2 diabetes used to be called “ adult-onset diabetes” for a good reason. It was typically found in older adults. That’s not the case any longer. The numbers of children diagnosed with type2 diabetes is skyrocketing and child health experts are looking for ways to bring the numbers down.

A new study suggests that even brief spurts of exercise may lower children’s blood sugar levels and help protect them against type2 diabetes.

The study of 28 healthy, normal-weight children found that doing three minutes of moderate-intensity walking every half hour over three hours of sitting led to lower levels of blood sugar and insulin, compared to another day when the children sat for three hours straight.

On the day the children took brief walks, they did not eat any more at lunch than on the day they remained seated for the entire three hours.

Researchers from the U.S. National Institutes of Health said that even short bouts of exercise during otherwise inactive periods could help prevent diseases like type2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer in children.

"We know that 30 minutes or more of moderate physical activity benefits children's health," study senior author Dr. Jack Yanovski, chief of the section on growth and obesity at the U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, said in a government news release.

"It can be difficult to fit longer stretches of physical activity into the day. Our study indicates that even small activity breaks could have a substantial impact on children's long-term health," he added.

Along with diet, inactivity is a major contributor to developing type2 diabetes. American children are now spending about six hours a day either sitting or reclining, researchers said. That was almost unheard of just a couple of generations ago.

In a news release, study author, Britni Belcher, a cancer prevention fellow at the U.S. National Cancer Institute and an assistant professor at the University of Southern California, said that "Sustained sedentary behavior after a meal diminishes the muscles' ability to help clear sugar from the bloodstream. "

Belcher also explained,  "That forces the body to produce more insulin, which may increase the risk for beta cell dysfunction that can lead to the onset of type 2 diabetes. Our findings suggest even short activity breaks can help overcome these negative effects, at least in the short term."

It’s become far too easy for children to be sedentary with using computers, smart phones and video games as their main activities. Children are much more likely to engage in physical activity if it is part of a family health plan. While it may be easy to get caught up in sitting or reclining on the couch for long periods of time, it may change your child’s future health prognosis by interrupting those types of activities and getting them up and moving around more – even for short spurts.

Source: Robert Preidt,


Your Child

Trying to Guilt Kids into Exercising Doesn’t Work



Experts often discuss how kids aren't getting the proper amount of exercise they need to be healthy. But, trying to guilt children into exercising often results in the opposite desired effect according to a new study.

Researchers from the University of Georgia found that middle school students were less likely to be physically active if they didn't feel in control of their exercise choices or if they felt pressured by adults to get more exercise.

Kids who felt that whether they exercised or not was their own choice were much more likely to choose to exercise, the researchers said.

"Can we put these children in situations where they come to value and enjoy the act of being physically active?" lead author Rod Dishman, a professor of kinesiology, said in a university news release.

Dishman and his colleagues said they are looking for ways to help more children identify themselves as someone who likes to exercise.

"Just like there are kids who are drawn to music and art, there are kids who are drawn to physical activity. But what you want is to draw those kids who otherwise might not be drawn to an activity," Dishman said.

So how do you get your child to exercise? Make it about fun, not exercise says Dishman..

“The best thing is to do it because it's fun. It's the kids who say they are intrinsically motivated who are more active than the kids who aren't," Dishman concluded.

Children's activity levels typically fall 50 percent between fifth and sixth grades, the authors noted in the September issue of the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

Using guilt as a motivator seldom achieves the desired result, no matter whether it’s exercising or any other choice. Playing the guilt card with kids only makes them resent what you are trying to get them to do and more often than not, they will do the opposite.

Building a lifetime of healthy choices never began with a guilt trip. Being creative and adding an element of fun and challenge will achieve more than coercion through guilt. 

Children need to identify themselves as someone who wants to exercise instead of someone forced to exercise. The best results have been achieved when families make exercise a part of their daily routine and treat it like anything else they enjoy doing together.

Source: Robert Preidt,


Your Teen

Early Puberty and Bone Health

1.50 to read

The normal rate of bone mass decline in adulthood is about 1 to 2 percent each year. This means that a 10 to 20 percent increase in bone density resulting from a naturally early puberty could provide an additional 10 to 20 years of protection against normal age-related decline in bone strength, according to the researchers.A new study suggest the earlier your child starts puberty, the lower the risk he or she will have osteoporosis later in life.

The research was based on 78 girls and 84 boys, who were studied from the time they began puberty until they reached sexual maturity. The investigators found that adult bone mineral density was influenced by age at puberty onset, with greater bone mass linked to early puberty and less bone mass associated with later puberty. However, bone strength did not seem to be affected by how long puberty lasted. "Puberty has a significant role in bone development," study leader Dr. Vicente Gilsanz, director of clinical imaging at the Saban Research Institute of Children's Hospital Los Angeles, said in a hospital news release. "During this time, bones lengthen and increase in density. At the end of puberty the epiphyseal plates close, terminating the ability of the bones to lengthen. When this occurs, the teenager has reached their maximum adult height and peak bone mass," Gilsanz explained. Reduced bone mineral density leads to osteoporosis, which affects 55 percent of Americans aged 50 and older. The normal rate of bone mass decline in adulthood is about 1 to 2 percent each year. This means that a 10 to 20 percent increase in bone density resulting from a naturally early puberty could provide an additional 10 to 20 years of protection against normal age-related decline in bone strength, according to the researchers. The study was published in the January issue of the Journal of Pediatrics. Pediatricians have long understood the role of pediatric bone development in osteoporosis prevention. The tween and teen years are critical for bone development because most bone mass accumulates during this time. In the years of peak skeletal growth, teenagers accumulate more than 25 percent of adult bone. By the time teens finish their growth spurts around age 17, 90 percent of their adult bone mass is established. Following the teen years, bones continue to increase in density until a person is about age 30. The need for calcium in the diet. Calcium is critical to building bone mass to support physical activity throughout life and to reduce the risk of bone fractures, especially those due to osteoporosis. The onset of osteoporosis later in life is influenced by two important factors: •   Peak bone mass attained in the first two to three decades of life •   The rate at which bone is lost in the later years Although the effects of low calcium consumption may not be visible in childhood, lack of adequate calcium intake puts young people at increased risk for osteoporosis later in life. Other foods, including dark green, leafy vegetables such as kale, are also healthy dietary sources of calcium. But, it takes 11 to 14 servings of kale to get the same amount of calcium in 3 or 4 8-ounce glasses of milk. In addition to calcium, milk provides other essential nutrients that are important for optimal bone health and development, including: •       Vitamins D, A, and B12 •       Potassium •       Magnesium •       Phosphorous •       Riboflavin •       Protein The role of physical activity in bone development. Weight-bearing physical activity helps to determine the strength, shape, and mass of bone. Activities such as running, dancing, and climbing stairs, as well as those that increase strength, such as weight lifting, can help bone development. For children and teenagers, some of the best weight-bearing activities include team sports, such as basketball, volleyball, soccer, and softball. Studies show that absence of physical activity results in a loss of bone mass, especially during long periods of immobilization or inactivity.

Daily Dose

Get Your Toddlers Walking!

With childhood obesity numbers rising, get your toddlers out of a stroller and walking!I walked into our office waiting room recently and was shocked at how crowded it was!! It really wasn’t that there were that many patients waiting, but it was the fact that there were about 6 “triple wide” strollers holding children of various ages who were being wheeled in and parked in the waiting room.

Not one toddler was walking or even standing!! I had a huge epiphany, children don’t walk anymore!! So, after looking out at the parking lot in our waiting room, I watched as these strollers maneuvered around hallways and doors as mothers brought their children to an exam room. Now, I must tell you, these children were not infants, or even new walkers. They were not twins or triplets either. These strollers were often holding a 5 year old, 3 year old and 1 year old, all being pushed toward their destination. In many cases, the older children were playing with a Nintendo DSL or their mother’s iPhone oblivious to the fact that their mother was struggling to push the “wide load” down the hallway.  It was reminiscent of a Cleopatra movie, while she was being carried eating grapes! I know I'm showing my age, but what happened to the day that the baby was in a stroller while the parent held the older children’s hands as they walked into our office, or a store or a restaurant. You may have even tried to maneuver around one of these mega strollers while shopping alone.  They take up entire aisles and should have to have a “wide load” sign with flashing lights. Not only are they a “road hazard” I think that they promote inactivity. Knowing that we have a terrible problem with childhood obesity, it seems that these” strollers on steroids”, only help promote inactivity. Not only are these toddlers and young children not walking on their own, they are missing out on many learning opportunities.  How many times do you remember saying or hearing,  “hold my hand” before you started walking through grocery store the parking lot?  How about “we have to stop and look both ways” as you came up to an curb or intersection.  If there were more than 1 or 2 children it was not uncommon to hear “hold your brother’s hand and he will hold my hand and we will all walk together”. These are important skills/lessons for a child to learn as they begin to establish some independence and autonomy.  You have to learn to ”run before you walk” and you have to learn how to navigate on your own by following simple “rules of the road” for safety, all of which needs to be achieved under a parent’s watchful eye during those early childhood years. These skills cannot be mastered when you are being “wheeled” around town without the need to pay attention to what is happening around you. At the same time that a child is inactive in the stroller, they are often eating cookies, goldfish, cheerios or granola bars and drinking from the sippy cup which is conveniently strapped to the side of their seat.  The combination of inactivity and snacking cannot be a positive way to promote a healthy lifestyle. I challenge mothers and fathers to get their children back on terra firma, and to hold hands and walk with their children rather than push those heavy children around. (can’t be good for the parent’s backs either).  Talk about where you are going, what you see along the way, and practice your child’s listening skills and following directions.  Return the mega stroller to the store and get those toddlers and pre-schoolers some good walking shoes! What do you think?  Send me your comments! That's your daily dose for today. We'll chat again tomorrow. Send your comment or question to Dr. Sue!

Your Child

Physical Activity Improves Kids Brain Power!


Kids who enjoy lots of physical activity are doing more than just having fun; they’re improving their brain structure, brain function and academic prowess according to new consensus statement published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

A group of 24 researchers from the United States, Canada and Europe examined the latest scientific and medical research on the benefits of exercise in kids, ages 6 to 18 years old.

Experts from a variety of disciplines evaluated the values of all kinds of exercise, including recess, physical education classes, youth sports leagues and old-fashioned outdoor play.

The researchers noted that:

•       Physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness are good for children's and young people's brain development and function as well as their intellect

•       A session of physical activity before, during, and after school boosts academic prowess

•       A single session of moderately energetic physical activity has immediate positive effects on brain function, intellect, and academic performance

•       Mastery of basic movement boosts brain power and academic performance

•       Time taken away from lessons in favor of physical activity does not come at the cost of getting good grades

In terms of the physiological benefits of exercise, the Statement says that cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness "are strong predictors" of the risk of developing heart disease and type2 diabetes in later life, and that vigorous exercise in childhood helps to keep these risk factors in check.

Even low intensity exercise will help improve kids’ heart health and their metabolism.

But the positive effects of exercise are not restricted to physical health, says the Statement. Regular physical activity can help develop important life skills, and boost self-esteem, motivation, confidence and wellbeing. And it may play a role in strengthening /fostering relationships with peers, parents, and coaches.

Just as importantly, activities that take account of culture and context can promote social inclusion for those from different backgrounds, ethnicities, sexual orientation, skill levels and physical capacity.

Incorporating physical activity into every aspect of school life and providing protected public spaces, such as bike lanes, parks and playgrounds "are both effective strategies for providing equitable access to, and enhancing physical activity for, children and youth," says the Statement.

For many kids right now, summer vacation is in full gear. With longer daylight hours and relaxed schedules, opportunities for more adventurous types of exercise are numerous. Swimming, hiking, biking, camping, water skiing, sports – you name it – all add to the overall mental and physical health of our children. Now’s a good time to start and stay active!

Story source:

Daily Dose

A Musical Workout for Kids

I must be becoming more "social" on line and have started getting some You Tube videos that are really quite entertaining. Now I do not understand how anyone has all day to sit and watch You Tube, but after the effect that Susan Boyle's You Tube video had I decided to watch a few more that I had received. One of these gave me an idea on how to get your children to exercise.

There is a video circulating of a little boy and his sister dancing to Low, Low, Low which is a rap song that, I think, I have heard emanating from behind closed doors while my son (who for some reason really likes rap) is showering. I guess this song is a big hit and other people obviously enjoy it too. The little boy in the video is dancing away to the song and does he have the moves. He spends greater than two minutes in full out DWTS kind of moves with jumps, spins, hand motions and even his version of moonwalking. He is obviously having the time of his life, and what a workout. I was tired just watching him (and also laughing a good belly laugh, the kind that makes you feel good). So, the point of this very long story is our children don't need a Wii Fit, or fancy equipment, or lessons to enjoy exercise. Just turn up the music and spend some time letting your children express themselves through dance, and reap the benefits of being physically fit at the same time. You could also introduce them to all different kinds of music from rap, to hip-hop, to classical and country. Children definitely don't feel inhibited to "dance their hearts out" and think of the rhythm they would also be developing. Maybe we should say, dance their hearts healthy! That's your daily dose, we'll chat again tomorrow. More Information: You Tube Video



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