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Your Child

Exercise: Reducing Depression - Behavioral Problems in Kids

2:00

Two new studies examined whether kids that have serious behavioral disorders or who may be at a higher risk for depression might benefit from exercise. The results showed positive outcomes for both sets of children participating in the studies.

For one study, researchers focused on children and teenagers with conditions that included autism spectrum disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety and depression.

They looked at whether structured exercise during the school day -- in the form of stationary "cybercycles" -- could help ease students' behavioral issues in the classroom. Cybercycles are stationary bikes equipped with virtual reality exercising games.

Over a period of seven weeks, the study found it did. Kids were about one-third to 50 percent less likely to act out in class, compared to a seven-week period when they took standard gym classes.

Lead researcher, April Bowling, said the results were meaningful.

"On days that the students biked, they were less likely to be taken out of the classroom for unacceptable behavior," said Bowling, who is now an assistant professor of health sciences at Merrimack College in North Andover, Mass.

"That's important for their learning, and for their relationships with their teachers and other kids in class," she said.

The study was done at a school that enrolls kids with behavioral health disorders, many of whom also have learning disabilities. Their usual gym classes focused mainly on skill building, with only short bursts of aerobic activity at most, according to the researchers.

For seven weeks, 103 students used the stationary bikes during their usual gym class -- twice a week, for 30 to 40 minutes. Their classroom behavior was tracked and compared with a seven-week period without the bikes, when they had gym class as usual.

Overall, the study found, the students were better able to control their behavior in the classroom during the stationary-bike trial.

Another recent study from Norway, adds more evidence to the benefits of exercise in children. Researchers from Norwegian University of Science and Technology measured activity levels in 800 six year olds who were asked about their exercise habits and any depressive symptoms. Follow ups were recorded at 8 and 10 years of age. Overall, children who exercised more, at a moderate to vigorous intensity, showed fewer depressive symptoms years later.

While the researchers noted that exercise alone isn’t a cure for depression, it has been shown to alleviate some depression symptoms.

“I think that physicians, parents and policy makers should facilitate physical activity among children,” says Tonje Zahl, the study’s lead author. “The focus should be on physical activity not just for the here and now benefits, such as improving blood pressure, heart rate and other physical benefits, but for the mental health benefits over the long term,” she says. All children should be targeted for this, she adds.

Experts say there are several theories as to why exercise may help kids control their behaviors. Bowling suggests that exercise may redirect the brain away from worrying.

Another theory is that exercise affects neurotransmitters -- chemical messengers in the brain that help regulate mood and behavior.

Bowling notes that it’s unfortunate that many schools are focusing so much on academics that they are cutting out gym and recess.

"If we really want our kids to do well, they need more movement during the school day, not less", she said

If children are unable to get the exercise they need at school, there’s always active playtime, walking and sports after school that can help provide some of the same benefits.

Both studies were published in the online journal, Pediatrics.

Story source: Amy Norton, http://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/news/20170109/exercise-an-antidote-for-behavioral-issues-in-students#1

Alice Park, http://time.com/4624768/exercise-depression-kids/

 

 

Daily Dose

Flu Season Isn't Over Yet

Just when you least expect it, those nasty viruses can rear their angry heads and guess what, they seem to be back.This has certainly been a weird end of winter and early spring in our office. I have always been very protective of my newborns and try to keep them "isolated" from all of those terrible winter viruses and germs for the first six to eight weeks of the infant's life. Especially for those newborns born during the winter months. Because we are fortunate to live in a temperate climate, we have lots of sunny days in the winter which allows for parents and babies to get out for walks in their neighborhood and even strolls in the park.

Even so, many of the parents (and they say their babies too) are getting a little cabin fever and are ready to head out to the mall, church and restaurants (the list seems endless). All of these venues are all full of crowds, so it is a given that germs are lurking there. By this time it had seemed that flu was long gone in our area and we had not seen RSV for months. Just when you least expect it, those nasty viruses can rear their angry heads and guess what, they seem to be back? I saw several cases of Influenza B last week, and yes they were documented! I was so skeptical that I had the lab techs pull out the boxes of flu tests to just check for checking sake and what do you know?! At the same time I saw several cases of RSV and even had to hospitalize one infant due to respiratory distress, the first child I had hospitalized all winter! Even the hospital was out of the rapid screening kits that had not been used recently, so it took us a day to document RSV. I am happy to report that both the your-baby with RSV and the adolescent with the flu are now doing well. I guess the moral of the story is, we cannot always predict the "official" end of the winter viral season. So keeping infants isolated seems like a good practice for at least several more weeks, until it is hard to find a coughing, sneezing, feverish, person among us. By June it will be a memory until winter of 2009 - 2010 and unfortunately the cycle begins again. That's your daily dose, we'll chat again tomorrow.

Daily Dose

Walking to School

1:30 to read

Now that school is back in session and the temperatures are cooling off, an easy way to get you and your child some extra exercise is to walk to school!!  I am thinking it should become a weekly event across the country - how about “walk to school Wednesdays”?

 

I realize that not everyone lives in an area where it is possible to walk to school. But, there are many children who do live close enough, but they are typically driven to school by parents or in a carpool.  I practice in an area where it would be easy for many children to walk to school, but when I ask them if they walk to school they typically give me a quizzical look and answer “no”.  

 

Many parents are concerned that their children don’t get enough exercise and this is a way to sneak in some daily exercise.  Walking together also gives parents a time to talk with their children. It is really a gift of time together. I remember that my children could walk to school for the several years when we lived nearby their elementary school. They are really some of my fondest memories, coffee cup in hand and the dog on a leash and walking the boys to school. It was a sad day when they said, “mom, we want to ride our bikes”.  They would meet some of their other friends (I was the helmet “cop”) and off they went.  No more talks with their mother or holding hands to cross the street…but growing up.

 

There are other perks of walking too!!!  Think about avoiding those long carpool lines. What about the gas that is saved and less pollution for the environment.  No one arguing about sitting next to the window or what radio station to listen too either. And for those children who tend to get car sick…this is a great solution!

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: http://consumer.healthday.com/Article.asp?AID=660288 / http://www.sussex.ac.uk/aboutus/annualreview/2011/mindandbrain

Daily Dose

Did Your Child's Holiday Present Come With a Helmet?

I wonder how many children received bicycles, skateboards, or roller blades for gifts over the holidays? I always ask parents and children during the course of their annual exams about riding bicycles etc. and the use of protective gear. The answers I get from the kids at various ages really make me laugh, as they don't always know the word "helmet", but talk about "the thing that I wear on my head". But for the most part the younger children use helmets, wrist guards etc. They are rule followers.

What I do notice is that as the children get older they are less likely to wear their helmets and the use of a helmet while bicycle riding or roller blading, skate boarding or rip sticking is a must, and is as important as buckling your child in their car seat or using seat belts. It is therefore incumbent on the parent to lead by example as well as enforcing the family rules to wear helmets. Use of other gear is great, but we do a much better job as doctors in fixing bones and lacerations than we do head injuries. Head injuries are usually accidental and therefore kids of all ages think it won't happen to them. But, unfortunately, head injuries do occur and they may be deadly. Every time your child gets on their bike etc, they must wear a helmet, and I am adamant that if they "choose" not to wear the helmet, then they cannot ride the bike or use the skateboard. If parents put the bike in time out until the helmet gets back on the head, we will be able to prevent tragic accidents. Lastly, with more children participating in skiing there have been reports of head injuries and many resorts are requiring helmets in children under 13. I think it is a good idea to start off the new skier with helmets and again make it routine. The best skiers on the mountain seem to be in helmets, so they know something. There have been several recent deaths in teenagers who were skiing or snow boarding and skied into trees and suffered devastating head injuries. Accidents are just that, unplanned occurrences. Insist that your children wear their helmets. That's your daily dose, we'll chat again tomorrow.

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.

Daily Dose

National Walk to School Day

This day and the entire month of October is meant to bring awareness back to the need for children to walk to school when possible.Today is ‘National Walk to School Day' and as a seven year old so aptly stated, "this was fun and good for my mom's health too." It seems that it has become uncommon these days for children to walk to school, although it was something that used to be one of the best parts of the day. This day and the entire month of October is meant to bring awareness back to the need for children to walk to school when possible. There are many reasons to encourage this, as a form of exercise to promote childhood obesity, to save on gas during skyrocketing gas prices, and to promote environmental consciousness.

It is a privilege to live close to a school and have leisurely walks where you can talk about the day ahead, kick a rock or pick up the first leaves of fall. But we need to change community cultures to promote safe routes to walk to school and to promote neighborhood children and parents to walk together. This same idea needs to be encouraged for those children who might want to ride their bikes to school, of course with a helmet, and get their parents to ride along. It also teaches the rules of the road and safety for crossing streets and intersections. So....pick a few days this fall to opt out of carpool, get the dog and a cup of coffee and walk to school with your child. It is guaranteed to create lots of conversation and most likely fond memories of your childhood walks to school. That's your daily dose, we'll chat tomorrow. More Information: International Walk to School Day in the U.S.A.

Daily Dose

Exercise Can Maintain Heart Health

1.30 to read

Moms and dads...you have an exercise plan but what about your kids? Your child's heart health is important too! Heart health is based on genetics, diet and lastly exercise. (For adults and my teen patients as well, need to add smoking and drinking to the discussion).  

While I start talking about healthy eating during infancy the discussion about exercise comes a bit later.  If you have a toddler you know they “exercise”.....all day long, and never stop except to sleep! But as our children get older, once again it is up to the parents to model behavior, including exercise. 

I regularly ask, “how much time does your child play outside?” (I know it is much harder in winter months), “what does your child do for exercise outside of school?” and “do you exercise as a family?’”.  Once a child is older, say 5 or so, I include them in the questioning as well as they are a wealth of information. I ask them “if they ride a bike”....they love to tell me about taking off their training wheels. Then I ask “who they ride with and where do they go?”.  I also ask about bike helmets, you would be amazed at how many children tell me that they wear a helmet, but their parents don’t! (HINT HINT to parents). 

I find that most children under the age of 10 or so do get a fair amount of exercise, but as they get older many have stopped playing sports outside of school and have chosen to spend more time being sedentary.  They are not just watching TV, but have found other interests like music, art, drama, chess and even computer programming.  All of that is great, but children still need exercise and many schools have cut PE programs especially once you get to middle school and high school. This means that parents once again may have to encourage exercise, for the whole family. Walking the dog, family bike rides, tennis matches, front yard kickball or badminton.  Get the family exercising together....they may not even realize. 

The hardest group I have to encourage to exercise are my teens who are just not athletes (I can sympathize).  We all have our talents, but for some sports are not it.  I find myself asking my teenage patients, how much exercise they get and so many say, “None”.  Many say, “walking between classes” is all of their exercise, and the idea of walking to school is long gone for most.  Many of my teens start to gain weight after puberty and have to be reminded that we all stop growing....so you can’t keep gaining weight. Exercise has to be done on a regular basis...again it is about lifestyle. 

So, heart health and exercise should be a focus for families year round, see if you can get your family moving as we head into spring!

Your Child

Brief Exercise May Help Prevent Type2 Diabetes in Kids

1:45

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, http://consumer.healthday.com/diabetes-information-10/type-ii-diabetes-news-183/briefs-emb-8-27-1pmet-kids-exercise-health-jcem-nih-release-batch-1913-702656.html

 

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