Keeping Kids Healthy: Exercise is Not Enough

328950_4100565913715_358637560_o It seems like everyone is talking about the problem with childhood obesity.  It’s even the focus of this season’s Biggest Loser television series.  The problem is inactivity and poor nutrition.  Some schools are trying to fight the problem by adding additional exercise classes for students, but research published in the British Medical Journal from Plymouth University and the University of Exeter in England, found that extra fitness classes did not lead to any significant increase in weekly physical activity among the young study subjects (14, 326 kids aged 16 and younger).  The study authors speculated that the quality and intensity of the exercise programs was too low to be effective.  These programs, the researchers stated, “still offer benefits such as improved coordination skills, greater self confidence, team participation and social inclusivity.”

Nutrition is not mentioned at all in the study.  I can’t say I am all that surprised by the results.  If you exercise with minimal or moderate effort then eat junk, of course you’re not going to lose weight.  People need to wake up and realize that, as is the case with adults, proper nutrition is vital to weight loss and good health.  An extra exercise class or mile around the track is not going to result in long-term benefits like replacing junk food with vegetables.  Back in my personal training days, I told clients that the results they saw would be 80 percent from nutrition and 20 percent from workouts.

Likewise, parents, please remember that your kids are learning their activity habits from you.  If they see you watching television all the time, they will be less inclined to go outside and ride their bike.  Try a TV-free day once a week.  If they see you making fitness a priority, they will be more interested in exercise.  My daughter likes to do fitness videos with me (the Supreme 90-Day program is on the tv in the photo).  Also, remember family activities like hikes, walks around the block, kicking a ball around the backyard, playing active games like “Twister,” and even cleaning house, are opportunities to get moving together.

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