Posts Tagged ‘ physical fitness ’

Is Your Parenting Style Creating Couch Potatoes?

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

Active ChildrenEvery mother or father has their own parenting style—each with its own pros and cons. But some parents who choose hyper-parenting (defined as “a child-rearing style in which parents are intensely involved in managing, scheduling, and enriching all aspects of their children’s lives”) may be raising kids who sit around too much.

A new study from Queen’s University in Ontario, has found a link between hyper-parents and their children being less physically active.

Children whose parents displayed extreme, attached parenting techniques (quite the opposite of free-range parenting!) ”spent less time outdoors, played fewer after-school sports, and were less likely to bike or walk to school, friends’ homes, parks and playgrounds than children with less-involved parents,” reports The Wall Street Journal.

Researchers collected information from 724 parents with children between the ages of 7 and 12. Parents were given questionnaires to determine if their parenting style ranked within four categories of hyper-parenting: overprotective parents (aka. helicopter parents), overindulgent parents, overscheduled parents, and overly achievement-driven parents (aka. tiger moms). Approximately 40 percent of parents received high hyper-parenting scores, while only 6 percent had low scores.

Parents who received low to below-average hyper-parenting scores in all four categories had the most active kids. Although helicopter parenting was the most common style, it was not directly associated with physically active kids, but the other three styles were associated with fewer active kids. According to The Wall Street Journal, researchers concluded that “the difference between children in the low and high hyper-parenting groups was equivalent to about 20 physical-activity sessions a week.”

Less active children only fuels the ongoing issue of childhood obesity, so the more that is known about a child’s physical activity—or lack thereof—the better.

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

The Lasting Impact of the Early Childhood Years
The Lasting Impact of the Early Childhood Years
The Lasting Impact of the Early Childhood Years

Image: Active children via Shutterstock

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Why Your Child’s Friends Can Help Them Exercise More

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

Kids playing outsideThere’s no denying that children are heavily influenced by their friends—but as it turns out, not all peer pressure is negative. In fact, friends can influence each other positively, especially when it relates to mimicking a friend’s physical activity.

New research concludes that friends can influence a child to exercise. The study, which has yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, asked 104 children and teens to list 10 potential benefits and 15 potential barriers to being physically active. The top reasons kids listed as impeding their activity included: feeling self-conscious, poor health, lack of enjoyment, and lack of self-discipline and energy.

“Children and teens who did physical activities with a friend were far less likely to cite barriers for not exercising, while family participation or encouragement did not have this effect,” reports Health Day.

Of the participants with the highest level of activity, 76 percent reported being physically active with their friends.

“Having physically active friends may make it easier for obese children to get involved with activities and lower the perceived barriers for doing so, while having a physically-active family may not be as inspiring,” says Jessica Graus Woo, the study’s author and an associate professor of pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Ohio.

Though parents may focus on giving encouragement and setting a good example as ways to help a child exercise and be mindful of weight issues, this research shows that your child’s social circle is an important influence.

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

Best Toys That Get Kids Moving
Best Toys That Get Kids Moving
Best Toys That Get Kids Moving

Image: Friends playing outside via Shutterstock

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Moms: Your Fitness Level Will Impact Your Kids’

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

Moms who lead active lifestyles and get regular physical exercise tend to have children who are also physically active, according to a new study conducted by British researchers.  Importantly, the study could not definitively conclude that the correlation only went into the mother-to-child direction–it was also possible that more active kids demanded more physical involvement (also known as baby-chasing) from their mothers.  Because of this possibility, the researchers urged both parents and children to be mindful of their activity levels, and increase them to a healthy level whenever possible.

More from NPR on the study, which was published in the journal Pediatrics:

[Lead author Esther] van Sluijs says just small changes – walking to the park instead of driving or playing a good game of tag instead of a board game – can make a difference.

“Increasing your physical activity just by a little bit already helps, you don’t have to become an athlete.” she says. “If you look at [small increases in activity] over a month or a year, that can actually have quite large benefits.”

Fathers weren’t part of the study, but van Sluijs says that doesn’t mean the call for more exercise should single out mothers.

“We do recommend that interventions are not just targeted at mothers and their children,” she tells Shots. “They’re actually targeted at the family unit because we know that siblings as well play an important role for children’s physical activity.”

Exercise With Baby: Biceps
Exercise With Baby: Biceps
Exercise With Baby: Biceps

Image: Mother and son doing yoga, via Shutterstock

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Parents Get Failing Grade for Low Level of U.S. Kids’ Fitness

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

Frequent Internet use, stressed-out parents who don’t have time to play outside, and too much time spent riding in cars are all cited by a non-profit organization’s Physical Activity for Children and Youth report card as contributing factors to poor physical activity and fitness levels among American kids.  Reuters has more:

Only one quarter of children aged 6 to 15 meet the current guidelines of 60 minutes of moderate physical activity per day, said Dr. Russell R. Pate, chairman of the non-profit National Physical Activity Plan (NPAP) Alliance, which issued the first U.S. report card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth.

“Fifty percent of waking hours are spent in sedentary activity,” said Pate, professor in the Department of Exercise Science in the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina.

Fitness experts say it is up to parents and policy makers to get their children to be more active.

“It’s not about grading the kids,” said Dr. Peter Katzmarzyk, a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine and chairman of the research committee that issued the report card.

“Kids want to be active, if they’re given the opportunity.” he said. “This is for us to change.”

Image: Kids playing 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

 

Image: Fit pregnant woman, via Shutterstock

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