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

ScienceDaily

Date: March 24, 2017
Source: Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center
Summary:
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.
FULL STORY

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
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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

60732211_s

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

FULL STORY

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 Healthy Habits

Getting inside teens’ heads: Study upsets beliefs about feelings and exercise probability


Date:  February 15, 2017
Source:  University of Kansas, Life Span Institute
Summary:
A pilot study tracking adolescents’ internal psychological states and physical activity in near real-time challenges prevailing assumptions about how to increase physical activity.
FULL STORY

A pilot study tracking adolescents’ internal psychological states around engaging in physical activity suggests that prevailing assumptions about how to increase physical activity might need a reboot.

Twenty-six adolescents reported their mood and energy four times a day for 20 days with an Android smartphone app developed by a University of Kansas research team led by Christopher Cushing, assistant professor of clinical child psychology, and KU Life Span Institute assistant scientist. The team then combined those reports with physical activity measurements collected from a research-grade activity tracker that they wore 24 hours a day.

The research team prompted participants to rate positive affect (feeling happy), negative affect (feeling sad) as well as whether and to what degree they felt energetic or fatigued through a short survey delivered on the smartphone app.

“You might assume that if you had higher positive affect and felt energetic, you would be more likely to exercise, but we found that this is not true for everyone,” said Cushing. “For some of our participants, feeling happy with lots of energy predicted exercise, while for others the relationship was in the opposite direction.”

Cushing said that this is a big advancement in the field of health behavior. “If you think about the kind of advice a clinician would want to give to a patient, this study shows that adolescents are too different from each other to rely on a one-size-fits-all recommendation that is typical in practice. We need to know something about the person before giving a standard set of advice.”

A long-term goal of this line of research is to design an intervention system that would personalize prompts based on each individual’s optimum times to exercise as gleaned from data collected from reported internal states.

Cushing said that his research group is aligned with the National Institutes of Health precision medicine initiative.

Cushing said that they were also able to answer the question, would adolescents participate in in this kind of study that required a lot of time and energy thought the day. The study got a very high response rate and nearly all of the participants said they would do it again if their physician asked them to participate in a similar study to better understand their health.

“Teens are willing to do it if they think they’ll learn something about the relationship between how they feel and important health behaviors they are interested in tracking or improving.”

Cushing said his research team wants to focus on increasing the physical activity of adolescents because high school is a time when most adolescents drop from a pattern of moderate activity to the kind of minimal activity that predisposes them for diseases as adults.

“We want to help them find opportunities for leisure time physical activities outside of the structure of school, and we think it makes sense to do that in a way that is personalized for each adolescent.”

“By the time a person reaches adulthood, patterns of behavior are relatively well-established. We think it is a harder proposition to get an adult off of the couch after they have slipped into a pattern of inactivity than to help an adolescent who is moderately active maintain some of that activity as they age into adulthood,” said Cushing.

When distributed over a large population, Cushing said, this approach could have a significant impact on the amount of the GNP the country spends on preventable illnesses linked to physical inactivity.

The study was funded by a Targeted Research Grant awarded by the Society of Pediatric Psychology and published in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology.


Story Source:

Materials provided by University of Kansas, Life Span Institute. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Christopher C. Cushing, Tarrah B. Mitchell, Carolina M. Bejarano, Ryan W. Walters, Christopher J. Crick, Amy E. Noser. Bidirectional Associations Between Psychological States and Physical Activity in Adolescents: A mHealth Pilot Study. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 2017; jsw099 DOI: 10.1093/jpepsy/jsw099

Cite This Page:

University of Kansas, Life Span Institute. “Getting inside teens’ heads: Study upsets beliefs about feelings and exercise probability.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 February 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/02/170215142024.htm>.


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 Healthy Habits, Nutrition, Youth Fitness

Motivating Kids to Get Fit

PBS Parents

Family riding bikesWith childhood obesity increasing at staggering rates, parents and caregivers must play an active role in protecting children’s health. Eating healthy foods is a key factor in maintaining their overall well-being. But, this has to be balanced with regular physical activity.

Children who are physically active on a regular basis will reap enormous benefits. Studies have shown that they:

  • Are less likely to become overweight
  • Have a decreased risk of developing type 2 diabetes
  • Have reduced blood cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure
  • Have higher self-esteem and reduced incidences of depression and anxiety
  • Are more likely to build strong bones and muscles
  • Are more attentive in school

Now that we know why children need to be active, it’s time to get them up and moving. Here’s how:

  1. Focus on fun. You don’t have to call it “exercise,” just consider it an activity. Find out which ones your child likes and encourage those.
  2. Limit TV and computer time. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than “two hours of daily media exposure” for children ages two and older. When they are watching or clicking, make sure they take breaks and move around.
  3. Schedule play dates. The key word here is “play.” Have your child get together with a friend and play a game of tag, race down the block or kick a ball around.
  4. Get fit as a family. Create some funny dance moves. Put up a net and shoot hoops. You could also visit a zoo, play miniature golf or enjoy other activities where a lot of ground is covered on foot.
  5. Choose fitness-oriented gifts. For your child’s next birthday, consider giving him or her a jump-rope, mini-trampoline, hula-hoop — something that will encourage movement.
  6. Clean up. Chores don’t have to be a bore. Sing a silly song with your child as you both wipe tables and counters. See how long both of you can hold a funny face while folding and putting away clothes. Older kids can help wash the car. On a hot day, this can turn into water play.
  7. Skip the mall. Go to the playground. Sure, most malls have kids’ play areas. But, when the weather is nice, enjoy a local park or playground instead. Fresh air always does a body good; especially a little one.
  8. Be a model of fitness. It’s much easier to motivate kids to be active, if you lead an active lifestyle. Whether you follow a structured fitness program or are lucky to get in some morning stretches, let them see you moving. It will likely inspire them to do the same.
  9. Encourage walking or biking whenever feasible. This is easy to accomplish if you live near stores, libraries or other places you visit regularly. If you live in a remote area, establish a safe route to tour on bike or on foot with your child.
  10. Be a fitness advocate at your child’s school. Do you know how much physical activity your child gets at school? Now’s the time to find out. If you don’t like the answer, gather support from other parents to enforce positive changes.

Notes: The American Heart Association recommends:

  • All children age 2 and older should participate in at least 30 minutes of enjoyable, moderate-intensity physical activities every day. These activities should be developmentally appropriate and varied.
  • If your child does not have a full 30-minute activity break each day, try to provide at least two 15-minute periods or three 10-minute periods in which they can engage in vigorous activities appropriate for their age, gender and stage of physical and emotional development. Any concerns about your child’s physical or overall health should be discussed with their pediatrician.
Posted in Healthy Habits

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

ScienceDaily.comch-youth-fitness-program
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.

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.


Cite This Page:

Coventry University. “Girls with poorer motor skills more likely than boys to be obese.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 December 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/12/161219084634.htm>.
Posted in Healthy Habits

Childhood obesity: One epidemic or two?

via ScienceDaily.com
Source:  University of Exeter
Summary:  Scientists have compared data on contemporary children with those of the 1980’s. They discovered that the rise in obesity among very young children has been largely restricted to the minority with obese parents. Toddlers as a whole have not changed. By contrast, obesity among adolescents has not been restricted to those with obese parents, but has occurred across the entire age group. This new research could have far-reaching implications for attempts to reduce the global epidemic of childhood obesity, as it indicates that very different approaches may be needed at various stages of development.

FULL STORY

New research has indicated that obesity in children has quite different causes at different ages. The research, led by the University of Exeter Medical School and part of the EarlyBird Study, could have far-reaching implications for attempts to reduce the global epidemic of childhood obesity, as it indicates that very different approaches may be needed at various stages of development.

In a study published in the International Journal of Obesity, scientists compared data on contemporary children with those of the 1980’s. They discovered that the rise in obesity among very young children has been largely restricted to the minority with obese parents. Toddlers as a whole have not changed. By contrast, obesity among adolescents has not been restricted to those with obese parents, but has occurred across the entire age group.

Professor Terence Wilkin, of the University of Exeter Medical School, who led the study, said: “Childhood obesity is one of the greatest health issues of our time. If we are to develop strategies to intervene effectively, we must first understand the cause. This study indicates for the first time that childhood obesity has different causes, depending on the age of the child. We now need further studies to explore this in more depth, as it could have significant implications for healthcare.”

Before the early 80s, childhood obesity remained at around 5%, but by 2010 it had shot up to 16%. Initially, research and health focused largely on the later years, but recent studies have indicated the importance of infant nutrition. The EarlyBird study points to different and distinct causes between infants and adolescents. The team analysed the BMI trajectories of two comparable sets of data, separated by 25 years. They looked at the BMI data set collected in the 1980’s that was used to set the British Growth Standards of 1990. They compared this with BMI measurements from from 307 children in the EarlyBird cohort, who were measured annually between 2000 and 2012.

The study found no difference between the birth weights of the two groups but, by the age of five years, a marked increase in the proportion of obese children in the EarlyBird group — 4 % of boys and 5% of girls, compared with just 2% in the earlier cohort. Both genders in the EarlyBird cohort continued to gain excess weight year-on-year so that, by the age of 16 years, 11% of EarlyBird boys and 16% of girls were obese. What the researchers found — quite unexpectedly — were different reasons for the weight gain in toddlers compared with adolescents.

The swell in numbers who were obese by five years came largely from the children of obese parents, and was not seen in the rest of the population. Outside the toddlers of obese parents, there was little change in BMI over a generation. In older children, the team also found an increase in obesity, but this time it affected the whole age group, regardless of parentage.

The data suggest that parenting is the fundamental influence on weight gain in the early years, whereas more general (peer-group) influences take over later on. Public health strategies may need to be tailored accordingly.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. M Mostazir, A Jeffery, L Voss, T Wilkin. Childhood obesity: evidence for distinct early and late environmental determinants A 12-year longitudinal cohort study (EarlyBird 62). International Journal of Obesity, 2015; DOI: 10.1038/ijo.2015.68

University of Exeter. (2015, April 28). Childhood obesity: One epidemic or two?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 28, 2015 from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150428105952.htm


Posted in Healthy Habits, Weight Loss, Youth Fitness

Incorporating exercise into classroom lessons increases children’s physical activity levels

ScienceDaily.com
Date:March 25, 2015
Source:Montefiore Medical Center
Summary:
Short-burst exercise program incorporated into classroom lessons increases children’s activity levels, a study confirms.


Children who participate in a short-burst exercise program incorporated into their classroom lessons take 300 more steps per day than children who do not participate in the program, according to a study published in the journal Childhood Obesity. CHAM JAM (Children’s Hospital at Montefiore Joining Academics and Movement) is an audio CD consisting of 10-minute, education-focused aerobic activities led by teachers in the classroom, that has been shown to increase children’s activity levels when performed up to three times per day.

While 60 minutes of exercise per day is recommended for children, few kids actually practice this regularly. The approach of incorporating exercise into the classroom could be beneficial for adding physical activity to a child’s daily routine and has the potential to decrease children’s risk of obesity and associated illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease.

The study followed children in kindergarten and first-grade classes in four Bronx elementary schools, and was led by Marina Reznik, M.D., M.S., attending physician, Division of General Pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics, Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, and associate professor of Pediatrics, Albert Einstein College of Medicine and colleagues, including Principal Investigator Philip O. Ozuah, M.D., Ph.D., executive vice president and chief operating officer, Montefiore, and professor, Departments of Pediatrics and Epidemiology & Population Health, Einstein.

Two schools were randomly assigned to receive the CHAM JAM intervention and two schools served as the control group. The number of steps taken daily by children in all schools were similar at baseline; however eight weeks later the schools that incorporated CHAM JAM during lessons saw a significant increase in steps taken. The data were derived from a concealed pedometer that all participating children wore for five consecutive school days at baseline and again post-intervention.

“Childhood obesity is a national concern, but it is even more prevalent among minority communities in urban areas such as the Bronx where rates as high as 26% have been recorded among school children ages six to 11 years old,” said Dr. Reznik. “We know that Physical Education (PE) is an important part of the school day but barriers such as lack of space and resources have contributed to a reduction in PE in schools nationwide. Research shows that physical activity can have beneficial effects on kids’ musculoskeletal and cardiovascular health, as well as reduce body fat and we want to give our children an opportunity to gain these advantages. The CHAM JAM program was created to combine education and exercise, and we’re pleased to report that it does indeed improve children’s activity levels while also focusing on academic goals.”

Dr. Reznik also notes that nearly half of all participants — 461 children in the intervention group and 464 in the control group — were obese or overweight, and that activity improvements found were consistent irrespective of gender, grade level or weight status. “CHAM JAM was created to address the increasing levels of childhood obesity in the Bronx,” she says, “and we believe this cost-effective method of integrating physical activity that complements the classroom curricula could be a helpful asset to other educators across the country.”

The educational material included during CHAM JAM is based on the approved curriculum for each grade level. Children respond to questions pre-recorded over different types of contemporary music, such as “Can anyone tell me what animal is from Australia, has a pouch to carry its babies and jumps really high? That’s right, a kangaroo! Let’s hop with both feet like kangaroo,” and “Today, we’re going to learn about adding numbers while we exercise. Okay, what’s 2 plus 2? Right, it’s four. Let’s do four jumping jacks. Go!”

Teachers reported that CHAM JAM was a helpful tool in encouraging children to exercise but beyond that it also helped them to focus better on lessons afterwards and encouraged them to do the exercises together with their families at home.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Montefiore Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Reznik Marina, Wylie-Rosett Judith, Kim Mimi, and Ozuah Philip O. A Classroom-Based Physical Activity Intervention for Urban Kindergarten and First-Grade Students: A Feasibility Study. Childhood Obesity, March 2015 DOI: 10.1089/chi.2014.0090

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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.”


Source: ScienceDaily.com

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 Healthy Habits

Creative genius driven by distraction

via ScienceDaily.com

Date:  March 3, 2015

Source:  University of Southern California

Now new Northwestern University research suggests why the inability to shut out competing sensory information while focusing on the creative project at hand might have been so acute for geniuses such as Proust, Franz Kafka, Charles Darwin, Anton Chekhov and many others.

The Northwestern research provides the first physiological evidence that real-world creativity may be associated with a reduced ability to filter “irrelevant” sensory information.

The research suggests that some people are more affected by the daily bombardment of sensory information — or have “leakier” sensory filters.

“Leaky” sensory gating, the propensity to filter out “irrelevant” sensory information, happens early, and involuntarily, in brain processing and may help people integrate ideas that are outside of the focus of attention, leading to creativity in the real world, said Darya Zabelina, lead author of the study, calling the finding “impressive.”

The researchers investigated specific neural markers of a very early form of attention, namely sensory gating, indexed by P50 ERP, the neurophysiological response that occurs 50 ms (milliseconds) after stimulus onset, and how it relates to two measures of creativity: divergent thinking and real-world creative achievement.

In the study, approximately 100 participants reported their achievements in creative domains via Creative Achievement Questionnaire, as well as performed a test of divergent thinking, generally considered to be a laboratory test of creative cognition. On this test participants were asked to provide as many answers as they could to several unlikely scenarios, within a limited amount of time. The number and the novelty of participants’ responses comprised the divergent thinking score. As a result, the researchers had two different measures of creativity: a number of peoples’ real-world creative achievements and a laboratory measure of divergent thinking.

Divergent thinking tests are timed laboratory measures of creative cognition, in which participants produce numerous responses within a limited time. In the study, divergent thinking correlated with academic test scores and selective sensory gating — an increased ability to filter compared to lower divergent thinkers.

In direct contrast, real-world creative achievement was associated with leaky sensory processing — or a reduced ability to screen or inhibit stimuli from conscious awareness. This shows that these creativity measures are sensitive to different forms of sensory gating. Divergent thinking does contribute to creativity, but appears to be separate from the process of creative thinking that is associated with the leaky sensory filter.

The study suggests that creative people with “leaky” sensory gating may have a propensity to deploy attention over a wider focus or a larger range of stimuli.

“If funneled in the right direction, these sensitivities can make life more rich and meaningful, giving experiences more subtlety,” said Zabelina, a Ph.D. candidate in psychology at Northwestern.

But the downsides to such sensory distraction have been well noted by some of the world’s most creative thinkers.

One of the most influential novelists of the 20th century, Kafka once said, “I need solitude for my writing; not ‘like a hermit’ — that wouldn’t be enough — but like a dead man.” Darwin, Chekhov and Johan Goethe also strongly lamented the distracting nature of noise.

The study cannot yet determine whether reduced sensory gating is a stable trait, or if creative achievers can modulate their sensory processing depending on task demands.