That is a loaded question. The short answer is yes. The long answer is yes, but in the right way. I think most would agree that children probably do not get enough activity, between school, TV, video games, etc. If your kid plays any youth sports, he or she is probably getting some conditioning. But lift weights? Maybe. It needs to be done in the right way, with the right supervision. I think it is important to start children with body weight exercises (pushups, pull ups, crunches, burpees, etc.), and to make sure they have good form – not OK form, but good to great form. Bad form is a sure way to get an injury. Once the kid can squat correctly and show some core stability (among other things), I think light weights are appropriate. Does this mean you’re going to be out in garage with your son, grunting and yelling and sweating while the two of you pump iron for hours on end? Maybe, but I think it is really important to make things like this fun for kids – that means keep it short and maybe combine the session with something else, like shooting hoops or an obstacle course, or a catch, or a bike ride, or a walk, or any number of physical activities. Here’s an article:
How do you know when you can return to sport? I think this is one of the most difficult decisions a to make – it depends on the injury, the rehab, the condition of the athlete, etc. Sometimes, it’s fairly simple – we have certain clinical tests which can assess certain body parts, but nothing to really test the athlete in a real game situation. In looking at this issue, I found this article – http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/200707.php . It talks about a new 3 step “decision based” model for return to sport. What this kind of system does is give a concrete framework for the decision making process, and helps limit the social context of the decision – in other words, the issue is more black and white.
Sports drinks, soda, or water? That’s easy, right? Water has no sugar, but sports drinks have less sugar than soda. And, sports drinks are good for you, according to all those commercials. And why do you think our kids like those sports drinks so much? Sugar, sugar, and more sugar. No wonder it’s easier to get kids to drink a sports drink than it is to get them to drink water. The problem is, you’re still dealing with a lot of sugar. Now, if your child is consuming these sports drinks while maintaining a high activity level, maybe that’s not so bad. I’ll admit it, I have a garage refrigerator full of sports drinks which my kids take to their practices. I also have a habit of diluting their drinks with some water – pretty sneaky, huh. So everyone knows that we need to hydrate, especially when exercise is involved – let’s just use some common sense when it comes to what our kids are drinking. Check out these articles: http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/content/view/43299/
When you want to do something better, you have to practice, right? So to shoot the better free throw, you go to the gym and shoot 500 of them. To throw a better curve ball, you make 100 throws. But what if this isn’t the best way to get better? There is some evidence out there that we actually learn to perform physical tasks better if we vary our practice. It turns out that doing the exact same thing over and over results in our brains not processing the mechanics of a task very deeply. If, on the other hand, we engage in variable practice, in which the task is performed with other related tasks, our brain processes at a much deeper level. Read it here:
An interesting article about self diagnosing based on information from the Internet. http://sportsmedupdates.blogspot.com/2010/07/most-internet-based-sports-medicine.html – basically, as with most things, do not depend on the internet to always give you accurate information regarding sports injuries. There is something to be said for consulting with a professional. The internet can be a very useful tool, but you get what you pay for.
I came across this article recently. This is a great concept which is growing around the country. If you want to promote community wellness and combat chronic issues, while also saving some healthcare dollars this approach appears to have some potential. I think more communities, doctors, gyms, rehab clinics, and hospitals need to put their heads together and work toward solving some health issues – a grass roots effort, if you will.
Lifting weights – heavy weights to build bulk and light weights to tone – that’s the conventional wisdom. Google “lifting weights bulk tone” and you will find hundreds of entries about the toning benefits of a low weight, high rep program. I’ve got a better idea – how about heavy weights and low reps for everyone? Turns out, that if you want to bulk up, you also need to eat more – much more than the typical recommended daily calories for an adult. There are studies which have shown that more weight and body fat is lost with a program in which people lift heavier weights for fewer reps than one which emphasizes light weights and high reps. Just something to think about the next time you’re running through your routine.
Kids working out with personal trainers. I have to admit, I can’t help thinking something is wrong with that – I mean, can’t a kid just go play outside or something? Then I remember, it’s not like it used to be. Without sounding too dated, when I was that age, we played outside with other kids in the neighborhood. If it was summer, your mom was lucky if she saw you between breakfast and dinner. We played sports, rode our bikes, explored the creek, all kinds of activities. Anybody remember playing kick the can at sunset with about 25 neighborhood kids? I do. Nowadays, for various reasons that I really don’t want to get in to here, we don’t see that anymore. A lot of the activity our kids get today seems to be limited to baseball practice, karate lessons, youth football, or other organized activities. So, as long as our kids need to be supervised, directed, exercised, herded, entertained, etc, I guess a personal trainer for my 7 year old is in order. Still strikes me as sad and maybe a little silly. Read this: http://aahf.info/sec_news/section/Youth_articles_26.htm
It seems like we are constantly bombarded with information regarding the need to be physically fit as we age. There are many reasons, from our overall health to the huge financial burden of a population of out-of-shape baby boomers. This article has some great stats and facts regarding the aging process and where we are headed. Then, there’s another demographic that is beginning to show some interest in better fitness – look at my next blog about that one.
Why do we run? Everybody knows there are cardiovascular and other health benefits. Most also realize that there may be some orthopedic issues associated with the stress that running puts on the body. Can you imagine having to run in bare feet instead of your comfortable, supportive sneakers? I am in no way advocating bare foot running, but this study suggests that it may actually be better for your joints. Keep in mind this is one study with a limited population, but it is an interesting concept.