Posted in Benefits of Exercise, Cardiovascular Fitness, Cholesterol, Diabetes and Metabolism, Healthy Habits, Youth Fitness

A little vigorous exercise may help boost kids’ cardiometabolic health

6406743 - young boy working out
Copyright: jhandersen / 123RF Stock Photo


Date: March 24, 2017
Source: Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center
As little as 10 minutes a day of high-intensity physical activity could help some children reduce their risk of developing heart problems and metabolic diseases such as diabetes, according to an international study.

As little as 10 minutes a day of high-intensity physical activity could help some children reduce their risk of developing heart problems and metabolic diseases such as diabetes, according to an international study led by a researcher at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

The investigators found that replacing light-intensity physical activity with brief periods of vigorous exercise may provide significant cardiometabolic benefits in young people with relatively large waist measurements and elevated levels of insulin in their blood.

The study, published in the current issue of the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, analyzed data from 11,588 young people ages 4 to 18 who were included in 11 International Children’s Accelerometry Database studies in the United States, Brazil and European countries. The researchers focused on those records that included the child’s age, gender, level of physical activity and at least one biomarker — a measurable indicator of a medical state or condition — of a cardiometabolic risk. These included weight circumference, systolic and diastolic blood pressure and bloodstream levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol, LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose and insulin.

In evaluating the relationships between the biomarkers and vigorous physical activity while controlling for various factors (including age, gender, duration and level of exercise and sedentary time) the researchers found only 32 significant associations out of a possible 360. All 32 were related to reduced waist circumference and insulin levels. The relationships between high-intensity exercise and the other biomarkers were inconsistent.

“The results suggest that substituting modest amounts of vigorous physical activity for longer-duration light exercise may have cardiometabolic benefits above and beyond those conveyed by moderate activity and the avoidance of sedentary behavior,” said the study’s lead author, Justin B. Moore, Ph.D., associate professor of family and community medicine at Wake Forest School of Medicine, part of Wake Forest Baptist. “But as vigorous activity was independently associated with only two of the markers examined, it may be that its truly meaningful benefits may be limited, relative to less-intense exercise.”

Moore suggests that further studies incorporating additional variables — such as dietary and genetic data — are needed to better establish the relationships between various levels of exercise and cardiometabolic biomarkers in young people. “If such studies provide robust results,” he said, “a relatively brief but intense dose of physical activity — perhaps as little as 10 minutes day, which is certainly feasible for most youth — could turn out to be part of a ‘prescription’ for children to achieve or maintain cardiac and metabolic health.”

Story Source:

Materials provided by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Justin B. Moore, Michael W. Beets, Keith Brazendale, Steven N. Blair, Russell R. Pate, Lars B. Andersen, Sigmund A. Anderssen, Anders Grøntved, Pedro C. Hallal, Katarzyna Kordas, Susi Kriemler, John J. Reilly, Luis B. Sardinha. Associations of Vigorous-intensity Physical Activity with Biomarkers in Youth. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 2017; 1 DOI: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000001249
Posted in Benefits of Exercise, Girl Power, Healthy Habits, Mind/Body, Motor skills, Youth Fitness

Girls with poorer motor skills more likely than boys to be obese — ScienceDaily


Date:December 19, 2016

Source:Coventry University

Girls with poorer motor skills more likely than boys to be obese Date: December 19, 2016 Source: Coventry University Summary: Young girls who exhibit a poor mastery of fundamental movement skills (FMS) are more likely to be obese than boys who have similarly low skills, according to research.

Source: Girls with poorer motor skills more likely than boys to be obese — ScienceDaily


Young girls who exhibit a poor mastery of fundamental movement skills (FMS) are more likely to be obese than boys who have similarly low skills, according to research led by Coventry University.

The study — which won an award at the recent British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences conference — assessed among other things the running, catching, and balance skills of 250 girls and boys between 6-11 years, categorising their FMS as either low, medium or high.

Researchers at Coventry University, working in collaboration with Middlesex University and the University of South Carolina, then cross-referenced the kids’ motor skills with their body fatness to investigate the relationship between the two. The children’s habitual physical activity was also taken into account.

The researchers found that:

  • body fatness was significantly higher among girls in the low FMS category compared with boys in the same category;
  • body fatness was higher for girls in the low FMS category compared with girls with medium or high fundamental movement skills;
  • there was no significant difference in body fatness across the low, medium and high FMS categories for boys.

Lead researcher Professor Mike Duncan, an exercise physiologist in Coventry University’s Centre for Applied Biological and Exercise Sciences, said “We know from previous studies that primary school children with a higher body mass index are likely to have poorer fundamental movement skills, but our research is aiming to understand this relationship in more detail — particularly how gender may play a role.

“What we’ve found is significant because it signals a need to review the strategies we have to enhance motor proficiency in girls, and means we should be engaging health practitioners and PE teachers to help explore and understand how additional opportunities or different techniques may be required compared with boys.

“The next big question — which we’re continuing to research — is whether developmental delays in acquiring these motor skills, whether in girls or boys, may actually be the cause of children gaining unhealthy weight status.”

Story Source:

Materials provided by Coventry University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Posted in Benefits of Exercise, Exercise, Healthy Habits, Motivational, Youth Fitness

What is NOLA Fit Kids?

February 23, 2017, Jean Kottemann


28229207 - group of kids jumping isolated in whiteSo what exactly is NOLA Fit Kids?

The short answer is that NOLA Fit Kids is a program designed to:

  1. Teach proper strength training exercise protocol;
  2. Introduce movement patterns that are fun, appropriately challenging, and that will build structural integrity;
  3. Develop balance and flexibility;
  4. Introduce kids to mindfulness (meditation) and yin (releasing) yoga.

This is a program that was developed because some of my clients did not like the way exercise was being introduced to their kids in sports programs and in school, often haphazard, unspecific, and potentially harmful. They wanted a foundation-building program that would introduce fitness as a way of life.

The long roots of NOLA Fit Kids began a few years ago when, after a lifetime of training adults, and encouraged by research showing the effects of exercise on body, mood, and receptivity to learning, as well as those effects over a lifetime, I became interested in developing a program for at-risk teens in New Orleans. So I contacted Covenant House to see if they wanted to partner  up.

Of course, my program would include weight training, something I’ve taught over the course of 3 decades.  However, I had always worked one-on-one with clients using equipment, and this was going to have NO equipment and be class-style sessions.  I had to re-teach myself body weight strength training exercises.  I have a background teaching yoga (Kundalini) and added yoga/mindfulness meditation to round out the program.

In the end, that program did not last. I tried to get other local trainers involved, and to their much deserved credit, Downtown Fitness Center and personal trainer Iina Antikainen were very open to it.  However, CH wanted to limit contact with the teens to only one trainer (me).  After a few months it was clear that there were other constraints, the byproduct of Covenant House’s commitment to the safety and protection of their teens, that usurped the effectiveness of a physical training program that needed to push the teens out of their comforts zones.

I continued to be interested in building a foundational program, something kids could grow up with, and into, and use for the rest of their lives. That means not just teens, but perhaps kids as young as 10-ish.  They are really at risk of never learning proper exercise.  When I was a kid, our introduction to exercise was going outside and playing. Kids DO NOT go outside anymore.  And as I had learned many times over, if kids are eventually introduced to “exercise,” it is often ego-driven, hazardous, unprincipled nonsense.

The missing piece came when I became aware of Ido Portal, and his animal movement patterns.  If you don’t know who that is, watch THIS and THIS.  I became excited about the potential of adding the more simple animal pattern movements to round out a program for kids.  I am not a gymnast and do not have a capoeira background, so I took his movement philosophies, approached them from my yoga and strength training viewpoint, and began practicing some animal patterns.  The movements are not obvious, are just hard enough to make them work, will get you breathing heavy, and are easily achievable (no flips and handstands in the class).  They are “get-able” with a little practice, but could take a lifetime to master.  My kind of exercises.

As I talked more and more about  my movement practice and kid friendly program, several of my clients became interested and allowed me to use their children — their dear darlings — as guinea pigs. These kids are AWESOME and helped me to understand how to communicate all of this information to young-uns and get results that we could build on.  They gave me plenty of honest feedback which helped me mold the class and, as a result, we now have NOLA Fit Kids.

NOLA Fit Kids is ideal for kids ages 10- and up, but younger kids are okay, if they have the physical and mental maturity to participate in the class.

 NOLA Fit Kids is offered Saturdays at 11:00 a.m., however I may soon add classes as it is kind of popular!




Posted in Benefits of Exercise, Healthy Habits, Youth Fitness

Strong link between adolescent obesity, high blood pressure

Date:  March 3, 2015
Source:  Oxford University Press USA

A recent study published in the American Journal of Hypertension has found that body mass index (BMI) in healthy adolescents has a statistically significant association with both systolic blood pressures (SBP) and diastolic blood pressures (DBP), and highlights the significance of the global trend of rapidly increasing adolescent obesity.

The study, led by Yaron Arbel, M.D., Department of Cardiology, Tel Aviv Medical Center, examined 715,000 Israeli adolescents, both male and female, aged 16-20, who had received medical exams from 1998-2011.

There was a statistically significant link observed between BMI and blood pressure, both of which saw significant annual increases during the study. The percentage of overweight adolescents increased from 13.2% in 1998 to 21% in 2011, while the percentage of adolescents with high blood pressure (SBP > 130mmHg) rose from 7% to 28% in males and 2% to 12% in females.

The association of BMI to blood pressure was more pronounced in females than males. While the reason for this is not immediately clear, researchers hypothesized that it may be attributable to certain hormonal factors.

“An important finding in our analysis is that BMI was positively associated with SBP and DBP in both the normal weight and overweight groups,” says Dr. Arbel. “This highlights the importance of BMI as a marker for cardiovascular health in all body types.”

Dr. Arbel feels that the study highlights the need to address childhood obesity: “Obese youth are more likely to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure. They are much more likely to be obese as adults and are consequently more at risk for adult health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, numerous types of cancer, and osteoarthritis.”


The above story is based on materials provided by Oxford University Press USA. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Yaron Arbel et al. Trends in Adolescents Obesity and the Association between BMI and Blood Pressure: A Cross-Sectional Study in 714,922 Healthy Teenagers. American Journal of Hypertension, March 2015 DOI: 10.1093/ajh/hpv007


Posted in Benefits of Exercise, Healthy Habits, Youth Fitness

How parents juggle work hours may influence kids’ weight

Posted in Benefits of Exercise, Healthy Habits, Motivational, Nutrition, Youth Fitness

Your genes are not your fate – Dean Ornish

Published on Jan 17, 2013

View full lesson:…

Dean Ornish shares new research that shows how adopting healthy lifestyle habits can affect a person at a genetic level. For instance, he says, when you live healthier, eat better, exercise, and love more, your brain cells actually increase.

Talk by Dean Ornish.

Posted in Benefits of Exercise, Healthy Habits, Youth Fitness

Benefits of Exercise

You hear it all the time:  “Exercise is good for you.”  But what exactly does that mean?  What constitutes “exercise” and what’s so good about it?

Let’s first distinguish between activity and exercise.  Activity can take many forms from doing your laundry, biking to work or playing Frisbee outside.  Staying active takes energy and burns calories, circulates  blood, and helps to reduce stress.  So staying active will give you many of the benefits of exercise, but just not to the same degree as actual exercise.

Exercise is an activity that is undertaken specifically for its own benefits (weightlifting, aerobics, Pilates), or to practice a sport (basketball, gymnastics).  More benefits come from exercise.

So exercise is an activity that offers a lot of health benefits, but not all activities are exercise.  You end up having to stay pretty active if you want to avoid doing actual exercise.  In other words, the more vigorous or intense an exercise is, the less time you have to spend doing it, and vice versa. The younger you are, the easier it is to stay active: sports at school, biking or running around the neighborhood, P.E. class.  There was no need to do pushups or head to Zumba class.  But as you get older, you kind of get too cool for school, settling into more sedentary activities like hanging out with friends, watching T.V., going out to eat, and perhaps you even have a job. So while you’re busy, you are probably less active.  So it becomes  more and more necessary to make exercise part of your life.

It’s much easier to adopt great habits while you’re young than when you get older.  Furthermore, adopting a healthier lifestyle when you are younger pays off in your later years.  The benefits last longer.

Experts suggest that young adults get at least 1 hour of moderate to vigorous exercise each week.  Here’s are some reasons and motivations (with links to more info) to help you get started down the fitness path:

  • Empowerment for lifelong benefits.  The briefest Google search will provide plethora examples of using fitness programs for empowerment.  Assuming responsibility for one’s own health and the subsequent commitment to a fitness program puts “tools in the toolbox” that unlock one’s fitness potential.  If young adultsunderstand the elements of health and fitness, and learn how to implement them, they will have the keys to fitness for the rest of their lives. Exercise programs are an effective means of empowering teens and young adults and provide  health benefits for their lives.
  • Coordination and skill development.  The young adult brain is still developing.  Exercise that accentuates focus and concentration has been shown to develop a greater neural network.  Essentially this is good old fashioned skill building, but it is believed that through this mechanism, overall cognitive function is improved.  See “Enhanced Cognitive Function” below.
  • Reduces depression.  “Physical activity is being increasingly recognized as an effective tool to treat depression. New research has taken the connection one step further, finding that moderate exercise can actually prevent episodes of depression in the long term. This is the first review to focus exclusively on the role that exercise plays in maintaining good mental health and preventing the onset of depression later in life.”  University of Toronto 
  • Prevention of chronic diseases. Getting regular, moderate-intensity exercise may be critically important for men and women who want to reduce their risk of cancer, heart disease and other chronic diseases, according to a study led by the Public Health Sciences Division’s Dr. Anne McTiernan.
  • Enhanced cognitive function.  While those benefits are more obvious later in life, it is believed that exercise programs, especially those started early, can provide lifelong cognitive benefits.  (Read here, here, and here, ”The present review of research findings suggests that systematic exercise programs may actually enhance the development of specific types of mental processing known to be important for meeting challenges encountered both in academics and throughout the lifespan.”)    “Physical activity has benefits beyond improved grades, too. Basch extrapolates current research and connects physical activity to absenteeism, drop-out rates, and social connectedness.”   How Does Physical Activity Affect Academic
  • A way of avoiding a potential pitfall of at-risk youths.  Early-life adversity is directly associated with increased risk of metabolic disorder. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism concluded “These findings suggest that these adipomyokines may play a role in the pathogenesis of metabolic abnormality in a population with significant early life adversity.”  Kyoung Eun Joung, et al. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 2014; jc.2013-3669 DOI: 10.1210/jc.2013-3669.    Exercise, however, improves metabolic function and may guard against metabolic abnormalities. “Irisin, a novel myokine, may be involved in the regulation of metabolic function.” Blüher, S., Panagiotou, et al. (2014), Effects of a 1-year exercise and lifestyle intervention on irisin, adipokines, and inflammatory markers in obese children. Obesity. doi: 10.1002/oby.20739
  • Stress Reduction.  The physical benefits of exercise—improving physical condition and fighting disease—have long been established, and physicians always encourage staying physically active. Exercise is also considered vital for maintaining mental fitness, and it can reduce stress. Studies show that it is very effective at reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration, and at enhancing overall cognitive function. This can be especially helpful when stress has depleted your energy or ability to concentrate. Anxiety and Depression Association of America