Like many athletes, I was recently looking for a leg up on the competition. I was preparing for a fall marathon and already working hard on my running and speed work, but I wondered if by tweaking my diet, I could gain an edge. As a registered dietitian and sports nutrition coach, I was aware of several successful elite athletes who practiced vegetarianism.
Evidence is mounting that fit kids perform better than their unfit peers on a variety of learning tasks.
In a study conducted recently at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, researchers evaluated children as they performed reading and language comprehension exercises while wearing electrode caps. Fitness levels varied among the children, and these devices allowed the scientists to evaluate brain activity.
An examination of the scientific literature on exercise sheds light on how regular physical activity impacts physical and mental decline and early mortality among postmenopausal women. The researchers also identify which types of exercise may be best for this growing population.
Today’s children face numerous stressors, growing up in a globalized world, surrounded by electronic media and confronted with pressures from school and increased competition in multiple aspects of life. The authors of a review article published in Frontiers in Psychiatry (2014; doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2014.00035) believe that yoga practice may help youth cope with these stresses and contribute to life balance, well-being and positive mental health.
Here is another reason to encourage children to maintain a healthy weight: According to a Kaiser Permanente Southern California study, children who are overweight or obese are at significant risk for developing hyper- tension.
Preadolescence is a time of major change and growth, bringing psychological, physical and social shifts for boys and girls alike. Caught between the carefree days of childhood and the first throes of being a teenager, “tweens” (roughly aged 9–12) are a force to be reckoned with. Like many other populations, preadolescents are suffering from lack of exercise, which threatens to chart a course toward obesity and disease.
It is well known that the United States faces a childhood obesity epidemic. In fact, 81% of respondents in a poll on the topic considered childhood obesity a serious concern and two-thirds believed the problem was getting worse (Hassink, Hill & Biddinger 2011). Actually, national surveys show a stabilization of childhood obesity rates and even small declines in some localities (RWJF 2012).