What motivates a child to be active? Try this.

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.

The author at work (and play)

The author at work (and play)

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.

We all recognize the issues and we want to overcome them, but what motivates a child to want to be active? To answer this question we must remove our “adult” motivations (lose Continue reading

Like Many, Black and White Breast Cancer Survivors May Need to Exercise More

Like most American women (and men), most breast cancer survivors may also not be exercising enough to reap its many health benefits, suggests a new study. Yet it’s African American survivors who are even less likely to meet the activity recommendations compared to white women.Young Woman In White Sneakers Walking Outdoors

The study was published today in Cancer. It’s important because a lot of research has linked regular physical activity among survivors to to better health and longer lives.

AICR recommends that survivors follow the same activity recommendations as for prevention. Here’s a few examples of studies that have found how activity benefits survivors.

In this study, about 1,700 women diagnosed with breast cancer reported their activity habits both before their diagnosis and six months afterwards. The women ranged in age from 20 to 74, and about half were African American. Researchers converted the women’s activity habits into a common unit of measure: metabolic equivalent hours (METs).

Six months after diagnosis, 59 percent of all the patients reported being less active. Only about one-third of women reported they were active at least 150 minutes per week compared to 60 percent before diagnosis. Continue reading

New Survey: How Fit is Your City?

Washington, DC, now ranks as America’s fittest metropolitan area, with Minneapolis and Portland, Oregon, not far behind, according to a new survey. The American Fitness Index survey takes into account several factors related to cancer prevention, such as being active, obesity and eating plenty of fruits and vegetables.

AICR estimates that if everyone were to be active, stay lean, and eat healthy, Americans could prevent about one-third of the most common cancers.Screen Shot 2014-05-28 at 12.23.13pm

You can read the full report and see how your city ranks at American Fitness Index.

The survey, by the American College of Sports Medicine, looks at measures of personal health and community/environmental health. Personal health indicators included the percent of the population that smokes, is obese, meets government activity guidelines, and eats three or more vegetables a day.

Community health indicators include the percent of people who bike to work and walk, as well as the amount of parks and recreational centers the city has. The survey also used data on how much money the region spends on park expense per resident, and its physical activity requirements for schools.

The cities that ranked lowest in overall fitness include Memphis, Louisville and Oklahoma City.

This is the seventh annual American Fitness Index report. Last year’s fittest city was Minneapolis, but this survey used different methods and new measures from previous reports so they cannot be evenly compared.