It’s “Back to school” time and that brings challenges in keeping kids active and healthy in the 21st century. In decades past, school provided much more than academic education; it also provided an environment conducive to the development of social and life skills. Lessons learned on the playground included important social skills such as cooperation, teamwork, conflict resolution, and peer communication. Physical education class provided an outlet to release energy, and establish the important lifestyle habit of physical activity on a daily basis.
With recess and physical activity time being cut to make more time for classroom learning, the struggle to keep kids healthy and active is harder than ever before. The sad truth is kids are expected to spend the majority of their day “sitting”, contributing to skyrocketing childhood obesity rates and overall health concerns — including increased cancer risk — for our next generation.
That said, the challenges don’t end when the bell rings. Kids today have succumbed to the “technology takeover”, spending more time living in the “virtual” world than in the real one. While kids in previous generations would play outside afterschool until dinner time, kids today run home to video games, television shows, text messages, and social media, increasing the amount of time they are sedentary.
If you’re a reader of health news, there’s a good chance you’ve heard about the research looking at how office walking breaks can help your health. Now comes a small study suggesting that those breaks may also improve kids’ long-term metabolic health, which may lower their risk for adult cancers decades later.
The study found that children who break up their sitting with three minutes of walking every half hour had lower levels of blood glucose and insulin, compared to when they remained seated for three hours. It was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. High blood glucose and insulin are risk factors for metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions that also links to increased cancer risk among adults.
According to government data, more than one third of children and teens are overweight or obese. Kids who are overweight are more likely to be overweight adults, and excess body fat among adults is a cause of ten cancers.
If you’re a woman and getting at least 30 minutes a day of activity, that means a lower risk of colorectal cancer. Now a study published today suggests that women who exercised as teens for even an hour a week have a lower risk of dying from cancer in middle age and older compared to teens who weren’t active at all.
These women are also more likely to live longer overall, the study suggests, whether they exercised as adults or not.
The study included almost 75,000 Chinese women who were part of the Shanghai Women’s Health Study. The women were 40 to 70 years old and they had answered questions about their lifestyle habits currently and decades earlier.
After an average of 13 years, the researchers looked how many of the women had died overall, and whether the cause of death was from cancer or cardiovascular disease.