Stop Telling Your Kids How Much to Eat

Dear Mr. Dad: My son, age 8, is very overweight. We’ve talked about how he has to start eating less and get more exercise. But he doesn’t want to play sports because the other kids make fun of his weight. And even though I’m trying to change his diet—by making him eat more vegetables and taking away his dessert privileges—his weight isn’t changing. Just the other day I found a bunch of candy wrappers in his room. What can I do?

A: It’s obvious that your intentions are very good: Trying to get your son to exercise more and eat differently is an excellent strategy. The problem is in your execution.

Let’s start with the physical activity part. I completely get your son’s reasons for not wanting to play on a sports team. Exercising in front of others can be humiliating. A recent study from Brigham Young University found that being bullied and teased is one of the main reasons overweight kids don’t exercise. And the problems don’t end there. Being bullied/teased also negatively affect overweight kids’ grades and relationships with their classmates.
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Pregnant Athletes + Hilarious Lessons in Parenting


Brandi Dion and Steven Dion, coauthors of The Pregnant Athlete.
Topic:
How to stay in your best shape ever before, during, and after pregnancy.
Issues: How to gauge your limits as your pregnancy progresses; eating well to support pregnancy and fuel your workouts; common myths and misconceptions about pregnancy; finding the best workout for you.


Johanna Stein, author of How Not to Calm a Baby on a Plane.
Topic:
Hilarious, real-life lessons in parenting.
Issues: Going to war against the color pink; calming your child on a plane with a barfbag puppet–that someone else had used; your first emergency room visit; the most embarrassing and satisfying moments of parenthood; why to never play a practical joke in a hospital delivery room.

5 Things You Should Know About Stretching and Mobility

One of the greatest debates in athletic history has to be the whether or not stretching is beneficial. I remember when I was in school the latestand greatest technique was bouncing into the stretch, it was part of – not before the warm up and feeling the burn was a good thing. The more the better.

So what are the leaders in the field now saying about stretching? Let’s take a deeper look into it and find out 5 essential things you should know about stretching and mobility. [Read more...]

Is high-impact physical activity beneficial for older adults? | American Council on Science and Health (ACSH)

A lot of people are concerned that high-impact exercise might harm adults older 30 or so. Turns out that not only is high-impact exercise not harmful, it actually does a lot of good. So it’s time to get hopping.

Is high-impact physical activity beneficial for older adults? | American Council on Science and Health (ACSH).

Slow Children Playing. Really Slow…

Dear Mr. Dad: There’s a lot of talk about childhood obesity. How do you think that’s going to affect the next generation of athletes? Will we be able to compete on a world stage in the future if today’s kids are so out of shape?

A: When I was in the fourth grade, I was one of the fastest kids in my school. I remember coming home one afternoon beaming after having won some kind of sprint and telling my parents—and my grandparents, who were over for dinner—all about it. My grandfather, who was 72 at the time, challenged me to a race. So we went outside and he proceeded to kick my 9-year old butt.

In my defense, grandpa was a freak of nature. He worked at backbreaking jobs most of his life and died at 103—after decades of stuffing his face on mac and cheese and fried chicken at all-you-can-eat buffets—and he did 100 pushups every day almost to the end. But I was reminded of that somewhat humiliating day when I read the results of a new study of childhood fitness that found that “kids these days”—as we love to call them—are much slower runners than their parents.

According to Grant Tomkinson, the study’s lead author and a senior lecturer in the University of South Australia’s School of Health Sciences, worldwide, children today are 15 percent less aerobically fit than we were at their age (in the U.S., the cross-generational fitness disparity is more than 18%). In more understandable terms, today’s kids take 90 seconds more to run a mile than kids the same age did just 30-40 years ago.

Tomkinson and his colleagues figured all this out by analyzing dozens of studies done since 1964, covering more than 25 million kids 9-17 in 28 countries. The tests covered anywhere from one half a mile to two miles and lasted between 5 and 15 minute. They measured either how long it took the kids to run a specific distance or how far they could run in a specific amount of time.

Out-of-shape kids tend to grow up to be out-of-shape adults. We’ve already seen skyrocketing increases in diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and osteoarthritis, and it looks like things are going to get worse.
I find it especially ironic, though, that at the same time children’s fitness levels has been slipping, we’ve experienced a huge increase in the number of kids getting involved in sports. So why are kids so slow? A few thoughts:

  • Organized, highly structured sports may build individual skills but they don’t encourage endurance.
  • Schools across the country are getting rid of Physical Education programs. I’ve seen estimates that only 4% elementary schools, 8% of middle schools, and 2% of high schools have P.E. every day.
  • Parents are so worried (usually unnecessarily) about their kids’ safety that they don’t let them walk or bike to school.
  • Electronic devices take up a lot of the free time that kids used to spend outside.
  • The amount of unstructured outside playtime kids have has plummeted.
  • Kids are fatter today than ever. Fat kids are going to be slow kids.
  • Parents don’t enforce the very sensible recommendation made by pediatricians and fitness experts that kids get 60 minutes of physical activity per day—physical activity that makes them sweat.

Back to your question: I don’t think our obesity problem will affect our country’s performance in the Olympics and other international competition. Elite athletes, like my grandfather, are freaks of nature—they’re simply not like the rest of us—and they’ll always exist. For regular folks like you and me, the solution is pretty simple. Take the kids out and make them exercise—with you, of course. It doesn’t really matter what it is, as long as it’s strenuous. Personally, I’ve been doing the Insanity DVD workouts for the past few months and I’ve corralled my 10-year old into doing them with me at least three days per week.

News from Below the Belt: It’s All about Sperm

Sperm is making headlines again. Some of the news is good, some not so much. On the good side, recent studies have found that drinking coffee and alcohol (within reason, of course) doesn’t hurt a man’s fertility. Also on the good side is that exercise may boost your sperm count, as will a diet that […]