Posts Tagged ‘ fitness ’

For Some Boys, Muscle-Building Becoming an Obsession

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

A growing number of boys are becoming obsessed with something that has long been a reality for tween and teenaged girls–body image. But instead of wanting to be lean and thin, these boys are after bulked-up, muscle-bound bodies, and they are going to great lengths to get them. From The New York Times:

“Pediatricians are starting to sound alarm bells about boys who take unhealthy measures to try to achieve Charles Atlas bodies that only genetics can truly confer. Whether it is long hours in the gym, allowances blown on expensive supplements or even risky experiments with illegal steroids, the price American boys are willing to pay for the perfect body appears to be on the rise.

In a study to be published on Monday in the journal Pediatrics, more than 40 percent of boys in middle school and high school said they regularly exercised with the goal of increasing muscle mass. Thirty-eight percent said they used protein supplements, and nearly 6 percent said they had experimented with steroids.

Over all, 90 percent of the 2,800 boys in the survey — who lived in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, but typify what doctors say is a national phenomenon — said they exercised at least occasionally to add muscle.

“There has been a striking change in attitudes toward male body image in the last 30 years,” said Dr. Harrison Pope, a psychiatry professor at Harvard who studies bodybuilding culture and was not involved in the study. The portrayal of men as fat-free and chiseled “is dramatically more prevalent in society then it was a generation ago,” he said.”

Image: Teenager lifting weights, via Shutterstock

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Three Hours of Daily Exercise Recommended for Kids Under 6

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

Children under the age of six should have at least three hours of exercise each day, according to a report written by a consortium of pediatric groups from the U.K., the U.S., and Australia.  Boston.com reports on the paper, which was published in the journal Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine:

The new guidelines are partly in response to the soaring obesity rates among young children. For example, 26.7 percent of US children between the ages of two and five are obese or overweight, researchers Russell Pate and Jennifer O’Neill, of the University of South Carolina, wrote. Plus, studies have shown that young children rarely get the activity they need. According to studies using accelerometers (wristwatch-like devices that measure physical activity), preschool-age kids get only sporadic exercise, with very little of it vigorous. For children under six, experts generally advise a combination of light activity and energetic activity throughout the day.

The experts listed a number of activities that qualify for both the “light” and “energetic” categories, including walking, dancing, skipping rope, and hide-and-seek type games.

Image: Kids playing, via Shutterstock

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Kids’ Fitness Programs Not Found to Lead to More Active Lifestyles

Friday, October 5th, 2012

Kids who participate in school or community based exercise programs get more movement in their lives during the programs themselves, but are not likely to carry that over into a more active lifestyle, a new review of program outcomes in the US and UK has found.  From The New York Times:

To be included in the review, the studies had to have involved children younger than 16, lasted for at least four weeks, and reported objectively measured levels of physical fitness, like wearing motion sensors that tracked how much they moved, not just during the exercise classes but throughout the rest of the day. The studies included an American program in which elementary school-age students were led through a 90-minute session of vigorous running and playing after school, three times a week. Another program involved Scottish preschool youngsters and 30 minutes of moderate physical playtime during school hours, three times a week.

In each case, the investigators had expected that the programs would increase the children’s overall daily physical activity.

That didn’t happen, as the review’s authors found when they carefully parsed outcomes. The American students, for instance, increased their overall daily physical activity by about five minutes per day. But only during the first few weeks of the program; by the end, their overall daily physical activity had returned to about where it had been before the program began. The wee Scottish participants actually became less physically active over all on the days when they had the 30-minute play sessions.

The review authors found similar results for the rest of the studies that they perused. In general, well-designed, well-implemented and obviously very well-meaning physical activity interventions, including ones lasting for up to 90 minutes, added at best about four minutes of additional walking or running to most youngsters’ overall daily physical activity levels.

The programs “just didn’t work,” at least in terms of getting young people to move more, said Brad Metcalf, a research fellow and medical statistician at Peninsula College, who led the review.

Parents might want to consider incorporating more active time into home life, such as these yoga moves designed for families by Parents.com.

Image: Red tricycle, via Shutterstock

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Organized Sports Found to Help Teens Manage Weight

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

It won’t surprise anyone that a new study has found that exercise helps teens–or anyone–maintain a healthy weight.  But this study, published in the journal Pediatrics, has found some specific fitness habits can have a more marked effect, including walking or biking to school and participating in high school team sports, more than one if possible.  The New York Times reports:

Though the spread of childhood obesity in the last decade has spurred health authorities to ramp up their efforts to promote youth activity, the new findings are among the first to demonstrate that walking or riding a bike to school actually has an impact on weight gain among high school students. The study also found that while school-based exercise can reduce or stem weight gain, it is sports participation in particular that makes a difference. Physical education classes, the researchers found, did not reduce or prevent weight gain, likely because they do not offer students the same level of regular, challenging exercise as competitive sports.

“I think being a part of some kind of team or organization gives kids the opportunity to have moderate to vigorous activity consistently,” said Keith M. Drake, an author of the study and a postdoctoral research fellow at the Hood Center for Children and Families at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. “I think a lot of time physical education requirements are not that strict. Kids are not in P.E. that often, and when they are, the physical activity is not that strenuous.”

Image: High school athletes, via Shutterstock.

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Study: Vigorous Exercise May Decrease Fertility for Some

Friday, March 16th, 2012

Women who are within the normal range of weight and body fat may increase their chances of experiencing infertility if they engage in long-term vigorous exercise like marathon training, while overweight women don’t have that concern–in fact, beginning an exercise regimen may actually increase their chances of becoming pregnant.  The Boston Globe’s health blog has more on the study, which was published this week in the journal Fertility and Sterility:

The researchers compared self-reported exercise habits among more than 3,600 Danish women who were attempting to get pregnant and found that women at a healthy weight who reported exercising vigorously — running, fast cycling, swimming, aerobics classes — for five or more hours per week had a 42 percent reduced likelihood of becoming pregnant in any given month compared to those who did light exercise or none at all.

That effect of vigorous exercise, however, wasn’t seen in overweight women who had a body mass index of 25 or more (150 pounds or greater for a 5’5” woman). If anything, vigorous exercise appeared to slightly enhance fertility in these women, reducing the number of months it took to get pregnant, but that effect wasn’t big enough to be statistically significant.

Although the study couldn’t prove that strenuous activity actually delayed conception, the researchers controlled for other factors that could have explained the delay like alcohol and caffeine intake, intercourse frequency, smoking habits, and previous childbirths.

“The take home message is that moderate physical activity appears to enhance fertility among all groups of women,” said study author Lauren Wise, an associate professor of epidemiology at Boston University School of Public Health. “Women at a healthy weight who exercise vigorously may want to switch to lighter activity if they’re having trouble getting pregnant.”

Image: Woman jogging, via Shutterstock.

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