Posts Tagged ‘ exercise ’

Mother, Child Activity Levels Linked

Monday, March 24th, 2014

A new study has found that the amount of activity a mother and her child record each day are closely related. After analyzing more than 500 moms and preschoolers, researchers in London, found youngsters are not “just naturally active” and develop healthy activity habits based on their mothers’ lifestyle. According to the study, only 53 percent of moms engage in 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity at least once a week. More from Cambridge University:

An analysis of the physical activity levels of more than 500 mothers and pre-schoolers, assessed using activity monitors to produce accurate data, found that the amount of activity that a mother and her child did each day was closely related. Overall, maternal activity levels were strikingly low: only 53 percent of mothers engaged in 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity at least once a week. The UK Government recommends achieving 150 minutes of at least ‘moderate intensity physical activity’ (such as brisk walking) over the week as one of the ways of achieving its physical activity guidelines.

The results of the study are published in the journal Pediatrics on 24 March 2014. The paper ‘Activity Levels in Mothers and Their Preschool Children’ suggests that, given the link between mothers and young children, policies to improve children’s health should be directed to whole families and seek to engage mothers in particular…

The study is the first to show a direct association in a large sample of mothers and children, both fitted with activity monitors at the same time. It shows that young children are not ‘just naturally active’ and that parents have an important role to play in the development of healthy activity habits early on in life. The research also provides important evidence for policy makers to inform programmes that promote physical activity in families with young children. Its findings suggest that all family members can benefit from such efforts…

Of the 554 mothers whose data was analysed in the Cambridge-led study, many were working and many of the children attended day-care facilities – factors that influenced activity levels of both mothers and children, as well as the association between the two. Other potential influences on maternal activity examined in the study included maternal education, whether the child had siblings, and whether his or her father was present at home…

The activity levels of parent and child were, for the first time, recorded over whole daytime periods for up to seven days. The resulting data allowed the researchers to plot physical activity throughout the day and over the course of an entire week to see how activities varied across the day and how weekday activity levels compared with weekend activity levels.

The data from mother and child were matched up to see if and how the activity patterns of adults and children correlated. “We saw a direct, positive association between physical activity in children and their mothers – the more activity a mother did, the more active her child. Although it is not possible to tell from this study whether active children were making their mothers run around after them, it is likely that activity in one of the pair influences activity in the other,” said Hesketh.

“For every minute of moderate-to-vigorous activity a mother engaged in, her child was more likely to engage in 10 percent more of the same level of activity. If a mother was one hour less sedentary per day, her child may have spent 10 minutes less sedentary per day. Such small minute-by-minute differences may therefore represent a non-trivial amount of activity over the course of a week, month and year.”…

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Prenatal Yoga: An Introduction
Prenatal Yoga: An Introduction
Prenatal Yoga: An Introduction

Image: African American family, man, woman, boy child, mother, father, son playing baseball together outside via ShutterStock

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Exercise During Pregnancy May Boost Baby’s Brain

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

Women who get regular physical exercise during pregnancy may be doing their babies a favor by boosting their brain activity as well as their cardiovascular development.  More on a new study by Canadian researchers from The New York Times:

It has long been suspected that a mother-to-be’s activity — or lack of it — affects her unborn offspring, which is not surprising, given how their physiologies intertwine. Past studies have shown, for example, that a baby’s heart rate typically rises in unison with his or her exercising mother’s, as if the child were also working out. As a result, scientists believe, babies born to active mothers tend to have more robust cardiovascular systems from an early age than babies born to mothers who are more sedentary.

Whether gestational exercise similarly shapes an unborn child’s developing brain has been harder to quantify, although recent studies have been suggestive. An experiment presented this month at the Society for Neuroscience’s annual meeting in San Diego, for instance, reported that pregnant rats allowed to run on wheels throughout their pregnancies birthed pups that performed more dexterously in early childhood on a tricky memory test — having to identify unfamiliar objects in a familiar environment — than pups born to sedentary moms. These clever rats retained their cognitive advantage into adulthood (meaning, for rats, weeks later).

But this and similar experiments have involved animals, rather than people. Many of these studies also began comparing the creatures’ cognitive abilities when they were old enough to move about and respond to their world, by which time they potentially might have been shaped as much by their environment as by their time in the womb.

So to minimize these concerns, researchers at the University of Montreal in Canada recently recruited a group of local women who were in their first trimester of pregnancy. At that point, the women were almost identical in terms of lifestyle. All were healthy, young adults. None were athletes. Few had exercised regularly in the past, and none had exercised more than a day or two per week in the past year.

Then the women were randomized either to begin an exercise program, commencing in their second trimester, or to remain sedentary. The women in the exercise group were asked to work out for at least 20 minutes, three times a week, at a moderate intensity, equivalent to about a six or so on a scale of exertion from one to 10. Most of the women walked or jogged.

Every month, for the remainder of each woman’s pregnancy, she would visit the university’s exercise lab, so researchers could monitor her fitness. All of the volunteers, including those in the nonexercise group, also maintained daily activity logs.

After about six months and following the dictates of nature, the women gave birth. All, thankfully, had healthy boys or girls — which the scientists gently requested that the mothers almost immediately bring in for testing.

Within 12 days of birth, in fact, each of the newborns accompanied his or her mother to the lab. There, each baby was fitted with an adorable little cap containing electrodes that monitor electrical activity in the brain, settled in his or her mother’s lap, and soothed to sleep. Researchers then started a sound loop featuring a variety of low, soft sounds that recurred frequently, interspersed occasionally with more jarring, unfamiliar noises, while the baby’s brain activity was recorded.

“We know that baby’s brains respond to these kinds of sounds with a spike” in certain types of brain activity, said Elise Labonte-LeMoyne, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Montreal, who led the study and also presented her findings at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting. This spike is most pronounced in immature brains, she continued, and diminishes as a newborn’s brain develops and begins processing information more efficiently. “It usually disappears altogether by the time a baby is 4 months old,” she said,

In this case, the relevant brainwave activity soared in response to the novel sounds among the children born to mothers who had remained sedentary during pregnancy. But it was noticeably blunted in the babies whose mothers had exercised. In essence, “their brains were more mature,” Ms. Labonte-LeMoyne said.

Pregnancy Workouts: Easy Beginner Exercises
Pregnancy Workouts: Easy Beginner Exercises
Pregnancy Workouts: Easy Beginner Exercises

 

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Diet, Exercise Improving Among Young People

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

American kids and teens are watching slightly less television, and getting slightly more exercise, than they were 10 years ago, according to a new report published in the journal Pediatrics.  Unfortunately, the findings don’t also report a decline in childhood obesity rates, but they are an encouraging sign nonetheless.  More from NBC News:

Using surveys conducted in middle and high schools, researchers also found increases in the number of days youth reported having breakfast each week and in how often they ate fruits and vegetables. Those trends have corresponded to a leveling off in obesity rates, but not a decline, the study showed.

“I would like to believe that all the public health efforts focusing on increasing physical activity and increasing fruit and vegetable consumption are having an effect, because that seems to be a pattern,” Ronald Iannotti, the lead author on the study from the University of Massachusetts Boston, said.

“The fact that (obesity) is leveling off, that’s a surprise and a major change from the steady increase that we’ve seen,” Iannotti, who worked on the study while at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Bethesda, Md., said. “This is great news.”

He and co-author Jing Wang analyzed surveys given to a nationally representative sample of students in 6th through 10th grades in 2001-2002, 2005-2006 and 2009-2010 as part of the Health Behavior in School-aged Children study. Each survey period included responses from between 9,000 and 15,000 adolescents.

The researchers found “encouraging” trends on measures of most diet and lifestyle habits.

For example, the number of days each week that kids reported being physically active for at least 60 minutes increased from 4.3 in 2001-2002 to 4.5 in 2009-2010, with similar trends among boys and girls. Likewise, youth reported eating breakfast on three school days each week on the first survey and 3.3 days on the last.

The average number of hours students spent watching TV each day fell from 3.1 to 2.4, with drops in both weekday and weekend viewing.

Frequency of fruit and vegetable consumption also rose slightly – although it remained at less than one daily serving of each, on average – and consumption of sweets and soft drinks fell.

However, the proportion of survey participants who were overweight or obese, based on their own height and weight reports, did not decrease, the researchers wrote Monday in Pediatrics.

Image: Kids playing outside, via Shutterstock

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Exercise May Help Kids Cope with Stress

Monday, March 11th, 2013

Physical exercise might help children cope with the effects of acute everyday stress, according to a new study conducted in Finland and published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.  Though the study did not control for  factors like sugar intake or chronic, baseline levels of the stress-related hormone cortisol, it did find that physical activity was related to better, more resilient responses to stress. The New York Times has more:

Finnish researchers had 258 8-year-old boys and girls wear accelerometers on their wrists for at least four days that registered the quality and quantity of their physical activity. Their parents used cotton swabs to take saliva samples at various times throughout a single day, which the researchers used to assess levels of cortisol, a hormone typically induced by physical or mental stress.

There was no difference in the cortisol levels at home between children who were active and those who were less active. But when the researchers gave the children a standard psychosocial stress test at a clinic involving arithmetic and storytelling challenges, they found that those who had not engaged in physical activity had raised cortisol levels. The children who had moderate or vigorous physical activity showed relatively no rise in cortisol levels.

Those results indicate a more positive physiological response to stress by children who were more active, the researchers said in a study that was published this week in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. The children who were least active had the highest levels.

“This study shows that children who are more active throughout their day have a better hormonal response to an acute stressful situation,” said Disa Hatfield, an assistant professor of kinesiology at the University of Rhode Island, who was not involved in the study.

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Obese Girl Loses 65 Pounds, Family Walks Called Key

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

At 9 years old, Breanna Bond weighed 186 pounds, a number that had her doctor and her family alike worried for her health in an age of childhood obesity and rampant Type II diabetes that affects an estimated 12.5 million U.S. children. As CNN.com reports, the involvement of the whole family was the key motivating factor that helped Breanna shed 65 pounds:

“Conversations about a child’s weight can be fraught with psychological landmines, says Dr. Denise Wilfley, director of the Weight Management & Eating Disorders Program at Washington University School of Medicine.

“Mainly what we suggest is actually having the whole family take on a healthier lifestyle — for everybody to eat as well as possible, as nutritiously as possible, so the overweight child is not singled out,” she says.

Wilfley encourages parents in her programs to “walk the walk” and be a role model for their children. She talks about food as energy for kids’ bodies — eating better will help them think harder, jump higher, play more.

Her families try to follow the traffic light diet, with green-light foods such as vegetables, yellow-light foods such as lean protein and red-light foods such as sweets or simple carbohydrates.

“We focus a lot on not defining self-worth by the number on the scale,” she says. “The best way to prevent eating disorders is having very healthy eating patterns.”

[Heidi] Bond realized that in order to get [her daughter] Breanna to exercise regularly, they would had to make it a family activity. The Bonds started walking four miles, four days a week, on a trail near their home in Clovis, California.

“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do,” Bond says. “There were times where she refused to move.” But in the end, “a little tough love to save the rest of their life” was worth it, she says.

It’s best to avoid a power struggle when it comes to exercise and healthy eating, according to Jelalian. She says it’s easy for parents to become the “food police” without getting at the deeper issues. Parents should ask why a child wants a certain food or doesn’t want to work out and problem-solve with them to find a healthy alternative.

She recommends parents give their kids a choice as much as possible — not about being active or not active, but about what activity they want to do.

“It really takes that balance in parenting of being firm — this part is not negotiable, but being warm, caring in how you do that.”

Identifying your child’s motivation for losing weight is key, Wilfley says. Do they want to be able to run faster? Play football? Avoid teasing at school? Combining that goal with incentives such as sleepovers or family outings should help to keep a child motivated.”

Image: Family nature walk, via Shutterstock

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