Want Your Kids to Be Active? Here Is Why YOU Should Be their Lifestyle Role Model

It’s not news—obesity is a growing national epidemic among young people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that obesity in children has doubled in the last 30 years and quadrupled in adolescents. Nearly 20% of children 6-11 years old are obese as are almost 23% of teenagers. This places them at increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer, and osteoarthritis. Finally—and even more concerning—studies have shown that people who are obese as children tend to be obese as adults.

What’s happening here?  In large part, it comes down to our lifestyle choices. Record numbers of both adults and children are succumbing to the temptations of TV, computers, and video games, and many of us simply don’t get the exercise our bodies need to stay healthy.

Naturally, parents who read statistics like these may be—and should be—concerned about their kids. More and more often, they ask themselves questions like “What can we do to help our kids be more active and physically fit?” One answer to this question is pretty simple: To get your kids to be more active, engage in more active pursuits with them. One of the keys to getting children to exercise more is to have them see their parents exercise more. That’s the finding from a new study published in the journal Pediatrics

In the study, researchers at the University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine in England fitted 554 mother-child pairs with equipment to measure how much exercise they were getting when they were together as well as when they were apart. Accelerometers tracked their exercise levels, and GPS devices measured how close they were to each other. Over the course of seven days, the findings were clear – the more physical activity the mother was engaged in while with the child, the more active the child was during the rest of the day. In fact, for every minute of moderate-to-vigorous activity the mother got, the child was likely to get ten percent more of the same activity. Conversely, for every minute the mother was sedentary, the child was 0.18 minutes more sedentary. Both of these effects were more pronounced in girls than in boys.

These findings seem to indicate that parents can be effective role models for their children by getting more active exercise themselves. But specialists emphasize that parents don’t have to drop their other priorities to do this. Physical therapist Teresa Beckman suggests, “Incorporate small changes into your daily life. For example, rather than playing a board game together, go outside and play hopscotch. Or if you’re planning a trip to your local playground, try walking instead of driving.”

Other suggestions for becoming more active with your children include playing more sports with them, walking more with them (if you take the bus, get off one or two stops early and walk the rest of the way), riding bikes together, and even playing Frisbee. Dancing is good exercise, so you can encourage your kids to take lessons in various forms of dance and then set a good example for them by attending the classes yourself. You can join exercise classes together, schedule regular pre-dinner walks or runs, or just play family games of basketball or soccer.

You are your child’s most important role model when it comes to teaching them about the importance of exercise. And exercising together is just as good for you as it is for them. So switch off that TV or computer and go out to play! You’ll both be doing something good for your health and having fun at the same time!

 

How to Get Your Kids Up and Moving

About one third of children in the United States are overweight. This is a worrying statistic, but not necessarily a surprising one. Busy school and family schedules leave kids little time for physical activity, while computers and television are often a much more appealing way to spend time than running around outside.

However, if you watch kids on a playground, you’ll notice something interesting: when it comes to running, jumping, and playing, kids are a natural. Most kids want to get moving: all they need is the right environment and a little encouragement. Here’s how you can help.

Encouraging Kids to Be More Active

Kids need at least an hour of physical activity every day to stay healthy. You can help them achieve this amount of activity by providing opportunities to play and monitoring the amount of time they spend on sedentary activities. Use your knowledge of your child’s likes and dislikes to choose activities to direct them towards. Some kids will thrive on a soccer team or in a martial arts class, while others are miserable in these more structured environments. Never force a child to participate in a physical activity he or she don’t enjoy. Instead, work with them to find appealing ways to play.

Similarly, encouraging kids to stay active is much more effective when things are kept simple. If your kids are not naturally drawn to competition, keep the focus off winning and instead encourage them to just have a good time. Try to focus on age-appropriate activities and stifle the urge to push your kids towards better performance. Running, playing, and having a great time is enough.

Your children look to you to learn what kinds of habits constitute a healthy lifestyle. If you tend towards more sedentary pursuits yourself, your kids will likely mimic you. The opposite is also true: if you show them that you find physical activities fun, they’ll want to give them a try too. Make exercise a family activity. Go on walks or bike rides together, spend an afternoon hiking on some easy mountain trails, or take a trip to a skating rink. Engaging in physical activity together will help bring you closer and start building habits that your child can come back to throughout their lifetime.

Finally, do your best to limit the amount of screen time your children indulge in. A sedentary lifestyle is one of the leading causes of obesity, so monitor and control how much time kids spend on the couch. An hour a day is a good rule of thumb, but again, use your knowledge of your child to determine which amount of time is most appropriate.

Encouraging kids to be more active is an important part of keeping them healthy. For more guidance on how to maintain your children’s health, consider consulting with a chiropractor. Chiropractic care focuses on the whole body, making your chiropractor a great resource for more information on keeping your kids (and yourself) active.

With some time and a little encouragement, even the most TV-loving kids can learn how to get up and have a great time. Get out there with them and get in on the active fun.

Is That Backpack Hurting Your Child’s Health?

On 8/01/2017 | By Chiro One Wellness Centers

September—the real most wonderful time of the year, right? Parents, you know what we’re talking about. Class is almost in session and it’s time for your beautiful babies to get up out of your house. But first, you’ve got to get all those school supplies in order, starting with the backpack. The kids may already have the coolest styles and colors and patterns in mind, but there’s only one thing you’ve got to keep your eye on—health!

Is That Backpack Hurting Your Child’s Health?

Backpacks worn improperly can be very damaging to your kid’s spinal health. In fact, it’s estimated that 79 million kids are suffering from backpack damage each year. Hauling around a heavy backpack everyday (especially over only one shoulder!) can contribute to serious postural imbalances, triggering subluxations, which are misalignments in the vertebrae of the spine. These misaligned vertebrae put pressure on the nervous system by irritating nearby nerves and blocking lines of communication within the body. This can lead to a whole different mess of symptoms, especially when left unaddressed.

Preventing Backpack Injury

So, how can you set your child up for success? Here’s a helpful list of ways you can help your child avoid backpack injury and strain!

Choose the right pack! If it’s too big, it’s no good. Always go for a sturdy backpack with two straps, and make sure it doesn’t hang more than four inches below the waistline. If your school is cool with it, it’s best to choose a backpack on wheels.

Pack smart! Your kid’s backpack shouldn’t be more than 15% of his or her body weight. If the pack forces the wearer to bend forward, that’s a sign of overloading. Pack only the necessities, and place the heavier items closer to the back.

Lift like a champ! Just grabbing the backpack and throwing it over your shoulder isn’t going to work. That’s just asking for some strain and pain. Here’s how to do it right:

  1. Face the backpack before you lift it
  2. Bend at the knees
  3. Using both hands, check the weight of the pack
  4. Lift with your legs, not your back
  5. Carefully put one shoulder strap on at a time, never sling the pack onto one shoulder

Wear it right! First rule: snug but not too tight. Both shoulder straps (as well as the waist strap if the backpack has one) should be used at all times—none of this “cool” slung-over-one-shoulder business. Encourage your kid to make frequent trips to their locker between classes to replace books.

Get adjusted! Proper backpack selection and wear aren’t the golden ticket to your child’s spinal health. Backpack injury or not, regular chiropractic adjustments are a gentle, natural way of reducing subluxations and pressure, restoring normal bodily communication. It’s the best way you could help your child maintain optimal health and wellness.

Scoliosis in Children and Adolescents

From time to time, children and adolescents are told to “stand up straight”.  Sometimes, the child just needs to practice proper posture. However, a change in stance, uneven shoulder height or a perceived inability to maintain a level hemline of the skirt of an adolescent girl may indicate a true spine deformity.

Scoliosis, or a sideways curve of the spine, is a condition that occurs in otherwise healthy children and adolescents, often with few if any symptoms. Some degree of scoliosis is relatively common. Very small curves may be detected in as many as two to three out of 100 people.

In younger children, the curve may be quite small, so you may not notice it. However, as the child grows, the curvature can become more severe. Because of this, most curves become more obvious during the adolescent growth spurt.  Small curves occur with similar frequency in boys and girls, but girls are more likely to progress to the point of requiring treatment.

The underlying cause of scoliosis may sometimes be related to a defect in bone development or other conditions such as cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy. However, the vast majority of cases are seen in healthy, active adolescents. Scoliosis can run in families, but the exact cause of most cases is not known.

Scoliosis does not usually cause any pain, so if you are concerned about a curve in your child’s spine, talk to your child’s primary care physician.

Kids’ Fitness: Stronger Muscles Now Signal Better Health Later

Preteens are often not the most “forward looking” of individuals. This is why they tend to focus on “here and now” goals—the ones with an immediate payoff—rather than on longer-term ones. When preteens participate in sports or other forms of exercise, the activity itself is usually the reward. For most of them, it’s about having fun and building skills. For some, it may also be about being more attractive, more popular, and more involved with their peers. But it’s NOT typically about their health.

But here’s the interesting thing: The fact that they’re involved in physical activities that help (even incidentally) to build strength now actually increases the likelihood that they will be healthier adults later. That is the essential finding of a new study published in the journal Pediatrics. Working with over 1,400 sixth-graders, the researchers found that those with the strongest muscles had healthier blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and body-fat levels than those who were weaker.

The preteens’ strength was tested using a standardized hand-grip exercise. Blood tests were then performed to detect the kids’ risk factors for heart disease and diabetes. Greater strength was associated with lower blood pressure and blood sugar. In addition, the preteens with greater strength had lower levels of the “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, and higher levels of the “good” HDL cholesterol.

These results were directly tied to muscle strength. They remained consistent even when the researchers factored in whether the kids were slimmer, or more physically active. As researcher Paul Gordon says in the study, “Even when you factor in these other things, that association with strength is still there.”

Gordon was quick to point out that their results don’t prove that stronger muscles lead directly to better health, just that they “shed light on the fact that strength may be just as important a predictor of kids’ [health] as aerobic fitness.” The students in the study were divided on the basis of their hand-grip strength into groups of low, moderate, and high strength. Kids in the high strength group had LDL levels that were 10 points lower, and triglyceride levels that were 20-30 points lower than those in the low strength group.

Although kids’ cholesterol levels and blood pressure may not be an immediate health issue for them, Gordon points out that “Kids with risk factors tend to become young adults with risk factors.” Thus, if preteens can be encouraged to participate in more strength-building sports and exercises, they can possibly develop health patterns that will continue into adulthood. This doesn’t mean that kids should be encouraged to “pump iron,” merely that they should engage in more strength training activities.

Many studies have indicated that the combination of strength training and aerobic exercise work better than either of the two alone in reducing weight and blood-sugar levels. This study seems to show that strength training in the young can reduce their adult risk of heart disease and diabetes as well.