You’ve stocked up on school supplies, the backpacks are loaded and you’re bidding farewell to summer with a Labor Day picnic. Why not kick-off a new season for family health and fitness? Give your kids a healthy head start for life – help them learn to make smart eating and physical activity choices, both important to lower risk for many cancers and other chronic diseases.
On Tuesday, Melissa Halas-Liang shared terrific ideas for getting kids involved in healthier eating – try some of those tips at your picnic. And you can get your children moving more this weekend with just a little planning and equipment that you probably have on hand.
Family Backyard Triathlon: gather enough jump ropes for each participant, a whistle and a timer. Spread everyone out in your yard or the park, issue a jump rope to each participant and begin:
- Blow the whistle to start the rope jump event. Aim for an age appropriate number of minutes, then blow the whistle when time is up. Cheer and applaud!
- Demonstrate how to do a plank (or push-ups or yoga pose if you prefer). Whistle to start and challenge everyone to hold the pose for as long – or do as many push-ups – as they can. When everyone is done, stand up and do some deep breathing before exchanging high fives.
- Finally, start the timer and blow the whistle for the jumping jack event. You can set a time, or allow everyone to do jumping jacks as long as they are able.
Completing a triathlon deserves a prize! Let the kids keep the jump rope or give them something like sidewalk chalk and show them how to play Hopscotch.
What will you do for family fitness this weekend?
When we hear the words high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or heart disease, we often imagine older adults, not children! But with today’s technology, we have the power to spot the early signs of heart disease before any symptoms manifest, and the results are shocking.
By measuring cholesterol in healthy children, and examining the arteries of kids and teens that have passed away, we have learned that heart disease start young- very young. In one study, 70% of overweight children had at least one risk factor for heart disease, and 39% had two or more factors.
Risk factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, and insulin resistance. The more risk factors one has, the greater the chances of developing heart disease that damages the cardiovascular system. As overweight and obesity increased, the proportion of children with at least two risk factors increased from 5% to 59%. And excess weight starts early, with more than one third of children and adolescents now overweight or obese.
Need another reason to build exercise into your week, month and so on? Here comes one, with a new analysis of the research suggesting that those who are the most aerobically fit for better heart health have almost half the risk of dying from cancer compared to those least fit. The study was published in the Annals of Oncology.
With heart disease and cancer the top two causes of death in the US, the analysis adds to a growing body of evidence that people can protect against top diseases with similar healthy lifestyles.
This study focused on a physical fitness indicator often used for heart health called cardiorespiratory or aerobic fitness. In order to produce energy, our exercising muscle cells need to pull oxygen from the blood. Cardiorespiratory fitness measures how well muscles get oxygen when exercising at a high intensity by looking at the maximal volume of oxygen used (called the VO2 max).
Cardio or aerobic exercises that get your heart rate up and your blood moving – jogging, biking and dancing — help improve your cardiorespiratory fitness. Continue reading