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.

 

 

Physical Exercise is Good for the Brain at Any Age

My company has changed names to Movement Academy from Learn To Move Academy.  A big part of that change is to share the ongoing scientific developments about physical exercise being important to cognitive functioning at various stages of life from young to old.  The brain is susceptible to development, and in this case development just means any change, in the adolescent stage and old age stage.  Obviously youth is in a progressive development and old age in a regressive development.  From a physical standpoint, both age ranges are also similar in balance and stability issues, so the mental similarities make sense.

Physical exercise has been found to have a positive effect on executive functions in both adolescent and aging adults (Barenberg et al., 2011; Best, 2010).  What kind of physical exercise is important?  Studies vary on whether coordination, balance, resistance, or stretching/toning.  All of them play an important role and need to be included as part of any exercise program.  Aerobic exercise is a critical factor across all levels of development (Chaddock et al., 2012; Kramer et al., 1999;
Pontifex et al., 2011), and can be accomplished in whatever manner is fun and appropriate for the individual.  As always, consult your doctor for guidelines if you are new to exercise.

In common language, what does all the scientific jargon mean?  The simple answer is start moving at your level if you are sedentary or have minimal physical activity.  Different areas of the brain light up with specific movements of the arms, legs, and torso.  Which movements do what, science is not sure yet, just that moving improves brain functions.  Scientists do know that the hippocampus is the area of the brain most positively affected by physical exercise.  The hippocampus is responsible for memory and learning functions, so using it in new ways helps your overall ability to stay focused on everyday tasks.  We all want to live longer and without assistance, so get out there and exercise your brain by exercising your body.

 

For more information on an example of a physical exercise program to improve brain function, go to the Movement Academy site and see if it is right for you.  If you have questions or comments, email Matt Peale at mpeale@ltmacademy.com

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.

Too Specialized too Soon

Spending thousands of dollars on a single sport for a child only to see that child get burned out in 3 years, is that a quality time and financial investment?  Unfortunately a large percentage of parents all around the United States have bought in hook, line, and sinker into this horrendous brainwashing.  The Tulane Institute of Sports Medicine has seen the surgical curve for overuse injuries drop from 18-20 year olds, to 12-14 year olds.  Why is this happening?  Because kids are being wrongfully told they have to compete in one sport only from the age of 6-8 and up.

When we are talking about long term athletic development, sports specialization does not occur until after puberty.  Children are still learning fundamental movement skills to achieve basic strength, balance, and stability.  Not to mention their mental capacity to focus on more intense competition is also still being developed.  Youth sports has become a big business and has lost its focus on creating a well rounded, athletic child.  The importance to win now and forfeit learning has become ingrained way to early in a child’s life.

What can parents do to reduce this one sport win now pressure?  Sign your child up for multiple sports while they are young and let them decide what they enjoy.  All of the top professional athletes played a variety of sports growing up.  It was not until they reached junior high or high school they began to specialize more, and even then they starred in multiple sports.  Do not let the pressure of coaches who want to line their pockets be the deciding influence on your 9 year old.  Registering them for exercise classes at your gym/health club is another great way to show them alternative healthy activities for those not interested in specific sports.  Learn To Move Academy is developing a system for individuals to purchase so children learn these fundamental movements at home.  Finally make sure they have fun.  Learning winning and losing is important and not everyone is a champion for the season, but having fun in the process is vital to returning for more seasons.

 

Matt Peale is an NASM certified personal trainer since 2008 and works with youth both as a trainer and partner in Learn To Move Academy.  Email Matt at mpeale@ltmacademy.com with any questions and comments.

Balancing Act for Seniors

Slips, trips, falls.  Broken hips, wrists, and twisted ankles.  Taking a wobbly step and recovering as a 30 or 40 year old something becomes more difficult as a 60 and 70 year old something.  One of the first physical attributes to go as a senior citizen is balance.  Often times we take balance for granted that it will always be there when we need it.  The unfortunate true story is that balance is a use it or lose it skill.

According to the CDC, one-third of adults over 65 fall each year.  Some of the reasons may be medical such as positional vertigo, Labrynthitis, and vestibular neuronitis.  In these cases a doctor can diagnose and treat with medication the symptoms and or causes of the disease.  When no medical condition exists, it is often due to atrophy and lack of use due to sedentary lifestyle.  The good news for non medical issues is that balance can be relearned and to an extent restored.  In teaching senior exercise classes, one common area they all want to work on are movements to regain the balance they lost over time.  Quality of life for otherwise healthy seniors is typically top of the list for why they exercise.  So the question becomes, what can someone do to stabilize and improve their balance.

A simple yet can feel complex move is to stand on one leg and bend at the waist to touch your knee, ankle, or toes.  Sounds easy enough, and you would be very surprised to see how many people regardless of age fall over from this basic task.  Another balance move even more basic is to stand on one leg for 5 to 10 seconds.  Try doing it on each leg not just your dominate side.  Once these movements are mastered, do them with eyes closed.  Not having any visual cues is a game changer and can be more challenging then when you first started eyes open.  There are many pieces of equipment to use like BOSU balls, physio balls, and balance plates, but if standing on one leg is difficult, no use investing in equipment to clutter the house.

 

How do you know if your balance is really off, try doing an everyday task on one leg.  At first it will be difficult, but if you can master it in a few attempts that is normal and remember to use both legs individually.  If the task still cannot be mastered after multiple attempts, it may be time to invest into a program that can stabilize, strengthen, and improve coordination of your muscles.  According to the National Council on Aging, falls are the leading cause of fatal and non fatal injuries for older Americans.  Look into a program like Learn To Move Academy, and don’t be part of these statistics, get up and move around everyday.  Just being active may save your life!

 

Matt Peale is an NASM Certified Personal Trainer since 2008 and a partner in New Orleans area based Learn To Move Academy.  You can Like Learn To Move Academy on Facebook and email Matt at mpeale@ltmacademy.com.

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!