Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014
An after-school exercise program has shown promising results in helping children lose weight and improve heart and lung strength. More from Reuters:
It’s clear that activity is good for kids, lead author Naiman A. Khan told Reuters Health. But he was surprised at just how much of a difference this program made.
“We saw their overall body fat, abdominal fat go down, and in the absence of the program kids actually increased in overall body fat,” said Khan, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
For their study, the researchers randomly divided 220 kids ages eight and nine into two groups. One group participated in the FITKids program, which includes 70 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity five times per week for nine months, and the other group did not.
In the exercise group, kids did 20 to 25 minutes of health-related fitness activities plus 50 minutes of organized noncompetitive games meant to keep their hearts beating at 55 to 80 percent of their maximum heart rate.
That’s higher than most previous exercise studies have aimed for, which may be why this study got such good results, according to Dianne Stanton Ward of the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health in Chapel Hill.
Ward studies obesity prevention in children. She was not involved in the new research.
Image: Girl exercising, via Shutterstock
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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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Wednesday, January 11th, 2012
A review of 14 scientific studies has found that regular physical exercise has benefits beyond cardiovascular health–it also can help kids perform better in the classroom. The New York Times reports:
…all three of the studies that measured time spent in physical activity found it associated with academic performance, and the two rated highest in methodological quality confirmed a positive relationship between physical activity and school achievement.
The reasons for the connection are unknown, but the researchers suggest that exercise increases the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain and may lead to increased levels of norepinephrine and endorphins, important in stress reduction.
The lead author, Amika S. Singh, a senior researcher at VU University Medical Center in the Netherlands, said there was no evidence about exactly how much or what kind of exercise is beneficial. But, she added, “I think it’s healthy to look for a good balance between time spent in academic work and in physical activity.”
Image: Girl playing in the snow, via Shutterstock.
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Wednesday, October 12th, 2011
First lady Michelle Obama, who is using her role to champion the causes of healthy eating and fitness for children, attempted Tuesday to help break the Guinness World Record for the most people to do jumping jacks for one minute.
The Associated Press reported that Obama led hundreds of local children in one minute of jumping jacks on the South Lawn of the White House. The event was reviewed by a Guinness World Records official, and it signaled the beginning of a 24-hour challenge to have more than 20,000 people around the world doing the exercise for one minute. The previous record was set on March 22, 2011, with 20,425 jumpers taking part.
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The Washington Post’s Reliable Source blog was at the White House yesterday:
The first lady bounced out to squeals from the crowd.
“We’re going to show people today is that moving is fun, right?” she exhorted.
Yeah!!! The kids were all ready to jump their little hearts out. . . but the official countdown clock still had four minutes before they could start. [TV personality Al] Roker killed time with a game of “Simon Says” and a joke. (“What did the snail say on top of the turtle? Wheeeeee!”)
Folks, it all went adorably downhill from there: Obama began jumping jacks at the stroke of 3 p.m.; the kids broke ranks and pressed around her, some jumping jacks, some just bouncing up and down and mugging for the cameras. At the end of the minute, the tiny mob rushed the first lady. . . and almost knocked her down.
Secret Service agents swooped in while Roker vainly tried to regain some semblance of order : “Everybody get back in line!” Obama never stopped grinning, one kid ran over to reporters and exclaimed: “She touched my hand!”
Guinness will announce the official result today at 3 pm.
(image via: http://www.washingtonpost.com/)