Being on the Frontline of Childhood Obesity

#motivationmonday #childhoodobesity #parents #obesity

Childhood obesity is not a new topic.  It’s talked about on the news, internet, and in print media.  Like a lot of issues, people like to think it does not apply to their family, students, or children.  The fact is the opposite.  It is everyone’s responsibility to teach healthy habits to our youth.  Kids learn how to eat and lead a healthy or unhealthy lifestyle from parents and teachers.  In giving seminars to PE teachers, we stress the importance of being the fitness and health role model just like math, social studies, and science teachers are the role models for those subjects.  The role of PE teachers is changing from a sport coach to a group fitness instructor.  Look at the PE standards coming out on a national and state level.  They don’t emphasize teach kids how to play football, baseball, basketball, and soccer.  Instead the standards emphasize movement and all around fitness.  Remember, only .5% of youth who play sports actually make a living at it on a professional level.  What about the 99.5% of us who have to get real jobs and figure out how to eat and exercise on our own?

The only way childhood obesity can be reduced and eliminated is by being the role model as parents and teachers for healthy, active lifestyle.  It’s ok to enjoy vegging on the couch and having dessert/sweet treats, just not on a daily basis.  Nobody wins when the whole family is sluggish, overweight, and inactive.  PE teachers, are you active and making overall good choices to show your students?  Can you perform the movements properly in teaching your classes?  If a math teacher doesn’t know their long division, they do not stay math teachers long.  If a PE teacher cannot demonstrate movements and be healthy, there is no penalty.  That doesn’t seem right.

Children do not pay for food and put it in the grocery cart.  Children also do not get paid to teach physical education and teach healthy habits.  It does not take drastic changes, just small ones on a daily basis.  Do not buy those cookies this week, instead buy fresh fruit.  Set aside 20 minutes to get your own exercise in twice this week.  Small changes lead to larger changes in time.  Start small and work your way into big, the brain and body will guide you automatically.  Your kids will thank you, I promise!

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Can Exercise Improve the Mood of Hormonal Teens?

#workoutwednesday #wellnesswednesday

I am the father of a teenager.  It’s almost like being part of a recovery group for those that have or had teens.  They are moody, stubborn, and know-it-alls.  Sometimes, we think they aren’t even human.  So besides sending them to an island or planet far away from the rest of normal humanity, what can be done to keep the rest of us from wanting to strangle them?  Could exercise help, at least a little?

Believe it or not, the teenage brain functions from the same hormones and mechanoreceptors as an adult brain.  Be it their hormones are raging at a completely different level, they are the same hormones as adults.  When humans exercise, endorphins are released to make us feel good and reduce our perception of pain.  “Runners high” is an example of this feeling.  Our attitudes are more positive and outlook on life for a little bit is much better.  Self esteem improves and our physical appearance is more pleasing to ourselves usually also.  According to WebMD, exercise can be a treatment for depression.  So maybe we should just tell our teenagers to get around the block a few times!

What exercise should hormonal teens do?  If you ask them, their answer is only something that involves texting or watching YouTube.  Obviously we are getting away from that, so the answer is something they can enjoy and sustain enjoyment. It doesn’t have to be high intensity constant motion for 60 minutes.  Going on bike rides and hikes are still fun activities for all ages.  We are all in much better moods after exercising in groups, so make socialization a part of it.  For some teens, poor body image and self esteem prevent them from being more socially active.  Exercising with them can ease their fears and a possible change in their physical appearance is the welcome side effect they are looking for.  When you do physical activity outside, a whole world of additional benefits opens up also from stimulating all of the senses too.

Before we stick them on that rocket to space and ship to the deserted island, let’s encourage our teens by being active with them.  It may not hurt us to lose a few pounds and step away from the devices either.  Consult a doctor if serious depression or suicidal thoughts occur.  For the “normal” raging teen, maybe tiring them out outside like we used to do when they were small, can still be a good strategy.

 

If you have any other strategies for dealing with teens, please share them with Matt at mpeale@ltmacademy.com, so he can help other parents not strangle their teens!

 

Get More Kids Involved in PE This Year

I was always the kid who raised their hand and wanted to be picked first to play any game in PE.  Those that didn’t, I never understood why they showed no interest and ran away practically.  Years and a 15 year old son later who is not an athlete, I know the benefits involved with overall physical development compared to only playing sports in PE.  The unfortunate reality is teachers and coaches give more attention the the kids in PE who want to play sports.  Why?  Because teachers and coaches are human, and humans gravitate toward people with common interests.  So how do we make a positive impact on childhood obesity and get the kids who aren’t interested in playing sports to participate?  The answer is long term athletic develoment.

SHAPE America has developed standards around physical literacy that teach movement fundamentals before sports and sports specific skills.  Not all states subscribe to this philosophy for PE, and with PE not a typically state tested subject, the initiative to get more kids involved is left to each individual teacher.  Besides physical literacy and long term athletic development being a NATIONAL guideline, it really does make sense to including all students and not just the sports & active minded ones.  Every child needs to learn how to control both sides of their body in a variety of environments.  Whether they are in a pool, on a field, on the ice/snow, or in the air like gymnastics; controlling your body and having confidence in the related movements creates a healthier child.  Less than 1% of kids become professional athletes, 99% of the population has to maintain their health as an adult to pay the bills and care for their families.  Teaching healthy movements that lead to lifetime skills benefits everyone.

Part of what my company Movement Academy does, is give professional development seminars on LTAD to PE teachers.  Our goal is to educate the educator so they can lay the foundation for a healthier and more active next generation.  To have this goal occur, more education and accountability is needed. Test scores that reflect a knowledge of movement and not just participation are necessary to hold both students and teachers accountable.  Talk to your teacher, principal, school board, and state leaders to make PE accountable not optional.  The only negatives are reduced obesity, stroke, and heart disease in children and future adults.  Learning movement before sports is the key to improving participation in PE and changing our next generation of adults.

 

Contact Matt Peale, who is an NASM Certified Personal Trainer, at mpeale@ltmacademy.com, for any questions and comments.

 

 

Exercise Prescription for ADD/ADHD?

So your child has ADHD or you have ADD, yes really not just because friends make fun of you.  You all know the kid who has problems in school and when he or she does not take their medications.  But what if there is something more natural and without negative side effects?  Turns out old reliable exercise can help kids and adults with ADD/ADHD manage the symptoms.  As always, consult your personal doctor for what is best, but imagine the only side effect is a stronger and healthier body!

American Professional Society of ADHD and Related Disorders

ADHD in simple language is the brain’s neurons in the attention system not communicating consistently to each other.  Sometimes the messages come across whole, sometimes they do not at all or have been partially chopped off.  A study in the Journal of Attention Disorders showed that doing moderate to vigorous intensity exercise forty-five minutes a day, three times a week, for ten weeks improved cognitive function and behavior in children with ADHD. The reasoning behind this improvement is that exercise can help the growth of new nerve cells. Children are constantly developing physically and mentally, which are times when neuroplasticity is also at its height.  Learning new functions requires the brain to build new neural pathways which can help the lapses in the attention system improve.

Does a child need to run a marathon, play soccer, or weight lift?  Dr. Michael Lara suggests challenging activities like martial arts, rock climbing, and ice skating are better than just aerobic exercise.  The complex movements activate various areas in the brain associated with balance & stability, endurance, and coordination.  Have you ever stood on one leg and reached down to touch your toes?  Easy at is sounds, many people fall over doing it.  The ADHD brain has a need for structure, variety, incorporating new skills, and a way to measure results.  Talk to a professional and determine what activities make sense for your child’s age and development level.  In some cases, medications have become more effective with exercise and/or replaced based on a doctor’s approval.

 

Check out www.movementacademy.net and their web based program that may help your child improve.  Contact Matt Peale at mpeale@ltmacademy.com for any questions.  Remember, exercise has so many more benefits than physical and costs generally nothing.  Give it a try!

Healthy Habit Setting

We all have heard the classic it takes 21 days to set or change a habit.  How many of you have documented proof that on day 21 you have completely learned or unlearned a bad habit?  Not very many of you have this proof.  One of the reasons is science now tells us after 21 days you barely 1/3 of the way to making that change permanent.  In a study found in the European Journal of Social Psychology, it states that changing habits takes 66 days!  No wonder it is so difficult to make changes that last.

In today’s “give it to me now” society, 66 days seems like 66 months.  What is a person to do about this?  Well the range of days is actually 18-254, depending on the person.  The point is learning new healthier habits takes work and is not easy. Stick to a challenging yet realistic plan that sets you up for success.  If for some reason you do not accomplish the goal for the day, no worries, everything is fine, start again the next day.  Continuing to build momentum toward making a permanent change is the main focus and having a bad day or two is just human. With weight loss for example, two to three pounds a week is what you will average out when your weight goal is done.  It starts with making better choices on a daily basis and learning from the failures and successes.

The motivation comes from your Why.  If your Why is not big enough, your habit will not change.  Think about your Why everyday and let it guide you to make those healthier choices of walking, eating less sugar, or lifting more weight than usual.  Adding up the small daily wins gives you the huge victory in 66 short days later!  Get some support and accountability, then change your mindset to a longer view than tomorrow.  A healthier you is loved and appreciated by everyone you have a relationship with: business, family, friends, and personal.

Matt Peale is not immune to bad habits.  He hates getting up early to exercise like anyone else, even though he is an NASM Certified Personal Trainer.  Contact him at mpeale@ltmacademy.com any time.  Also Like his Facebook page and check out how Learn To Move Academy can help your school, sports team, and Active Aging process.

 

Have You Watched a 10 Year Old Touch Their Toes Lately?

When was the last time you noticed your child’s or any other child’s range of motion and flexibility?  Have you noticed they have problems touching their toes or even ankles with straight legs?  In addition to the obesity and sedentary epidemic, there has become a lack of muscle flexibility epidemic.  In working with youth ages 8-13 on a regular basis, a large percentage of them male and female have horrible flexibility.  Their lower back and hamstrings are so tight and underused they can barely stand on one foot much less bend at the waist to touch their foot.  Ask a child to perform a sumo stretch as in the picture below and you will be astounded by what you see.

Flexibility is one of the core components of overall fitness.  Yes, it is a use it or lose it skill.  Children are more pliable than adults due to their bones still hardening as they mature and hit puberty.  With kids sitting and starting at video screens more often, they are also losing range of motion that is extremely difficult to get back as an adult.  Does this mean you have to enroll your child in Bikram Yoga?  Absolutely not.  What it does mean is teach your child some basic warm and cool down stretches as part of their sports and activities.  Proper dynamic (in motion) stretching before movement, and static stretching after movement is completed.

While touching your toes is not an Olympic event unto itself, practicing flexibility movements does reduce injuries and is part of a healthy lifestyle.  Take a few minutes with your students, children, and athletes to work on their stretches in good form.  It’s the habits we instill in them now that change our next generation.

 

Matt Peale has seen his fair share of kids have the flexibility of a 70 year old as an NASM Certified Personal Trainer.  Contact him at mpeale@ltmacademy.com and check out Learn To Move Academy for your school and sports organization.

Can Exercise Improve Brain Functions?

First of all I want to make the point I am not a scientist or doctor, I am an NASM Certified Personal Trainer since 2009.  Like all blogs, they are a mixture of fact and opinion.  With that being said, scientists can attribute positive effects of physical exercise on academic performance in youth and memory skills in senior citizens.  What has not been proven yet are any specific movements, i.e. push ups, squats, plyometrics, etc., that contribute to cognitive development.

In a study by the CDC called “The Association Between School-Based Physical Activity, Including Physical Education, and Academic Performance”, it highlighted that one or more positive correlations were found in 11 of 14 studies between physical education and  indicators of cognitive skills, academic achievement, and/or academic behavior.  In a study titled “Beneficial Effects of Physical Exercise on Neuroplasticity & Cognition”, the findings point to a slower rate of memory decline in people at the age of 53 who exercised twice-a-week between the ages of 36 to 43.  Additionally, Gray matter volume was larger for those individuals who exercised compared to those that did not.

What does all that mean in plain, simple American English?  Well, it means that beyond the physical benefits of exercise, the mental benefits are just as important. To properly engage the correct muscles when doing load bearing movements, you have to think about using those muscles.  Not only does thinking about using the correct muscles improve performance, but it also decreases the risk of injury.  Using the proper form, coordinating the movement of multiple muscle groups, and breathing at the right time through a movement all use brain power and concentration.  Combining all of these factors in a structured exercise program, it contributes to the positive results in memory the studies found.

The unfortunate reality is 1/3 of America is considered obese by the CDC and childhood obesity is also too high.  If heart disease, stroke, and diabetes risk factors don’t get you moving, maybe saving your brain will.  Learn To Move Academy can help your school’s PE program and assisted living facility with a web based custom program to boost your cognitive skills and maybe just help your physical conditioning.  Email Matt Peale at mpeale@ltmacademy.com with any questions.  Check us out on Facebook also, just get moving!