Can Weight Training Save Your Child’s Life? Could Be…

Dear Mr. Dad: My 9-year old son is sports obsessed and quite athletic. He’s involved in one sport or another all year long, and he recently told my wife and me that he wants to start lifting weights. Is it safe for kids that young to do weight training?

A: When I was about your son’s age, there were two things I really wanted to do: lift weights and throw a curve ball. I was told that both activities would do serious, irreparable, long-term damage: that throwing curves would strain my elbow and destroy my joints, and that lifting weights would stunt my growth. Several decades later, conventional wisdom has changed on both fronts. Curve balls, researchers now say, aren’t dangerous—but they aren’t necessarily safe either. More about the curve in a future column. But when it comes to kids pumping iron, there’s been a 180-degree change.

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New Diabetes Prescription + Be the Mom + Sergeant Major of the Army + Nat Mil Fam Assn

[amazon asin=098254412X&template=thumbnail1&chan=default]Guest 1: Aaron Snyder, author of The New Diabetes Prescription.
Topic: Taking control of your diabetes—instead of having it control you.
Issues: Is it possible to cure or reverse diabetes? How you can stabilize you blood sugar, lower your cholesterol and blood pressure, lose weight, regain energy, control your emotional eating, and get off as much medication as possible.

[amazon asin=1589976843&template=thumbnail1&chan=default]Guest 2: Tracey Lanter Eyster, author of Be the Mom.
Topic: Overcome attitude traps and enjoy your kids.
Issues: Seven “mom traps” that moms often fall into (martyr moms, busy moms, mirror moms, and more); how to avoid and escape those traps in your own life.

Interviews with:

  • Guests 3: Sergeant Major of the Army, Raymond F. Chandler III, and Jeanne Chandler
  • Guest 4: Michelle Joyner, National Military Family

Overweight men: If you want to slim down, ditch the girls and hang out with the guys

Men who want to lose weight shed twice the pounds in guy-only groups than they do in co-ed and female-dominated groups. Turns out that men are just as uncomfortable discussing their body as women are.

My entire post on this topic is at the Talking Men’s Health Blog. You should read it here.


Sometimes it’s better NOT to talk about your weight

Making comments like “I’m fat” predicts higher levels of depression and lower body satisfaction, a new study finds

Washington, DC (March 22, 2012)- Commenting that you think you are fat may be hazardous to your mental health. Engaging in “fat talk”—the ritualistic conversations about one’s own or others’ bodies—predicts lower satisfaction with one’s body and higher levels of depression, finds a new study recently published online in the National Communication Association’s Journal of Applied Communication Research.

“These results suggest that expressing weight-related concerns, which is common especially among women, has negative effects,” said the study’s lead author, Analisa Arroyo, a Ph.D. student in communication at the University of Arizona, Tucson. “We found that fat talk predicts changes in depression, body satisfaction, and perceived pressure to be thin across time.”

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Fitness equipment for kids? Naaa

We often talk about how important it is for kids to get enough exercise–60  minutes every day–but what they really need is play. What’s the difference? According to Dr Tony Okely, associate professor at the University of Wollongong in Australia, “Exercise is defined as physical activity that is structured, planned, and repetitive with an aim of increasing one or more components of health-related fitness.”  The problem is that a lot of parents get their kids all sorts of mini exercise equipment–stuff like treadmills and weight benches. But what they really need is to be sent packing to ride their bikes with their buddies around the neighborhood, or to just go to a park and run around like loons.

Reminds me of what a dog trainer once told me: “A tired dog is a happy dog, and a happy dog is an obedient dog. Same goes (well, almost) with kids. A tired and sweaty kid is a healthy kid. What they need to be doing is having fun. gym memberships are over the top.
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Does your child really need fitness equipment–treadmills,

Weighing in on Childhood Obesity

Dear Mr. Dad: I’m concerned about my 12-year-old son. He’s been putting on a lot of weight lately and I’m worried that he’s going to develop some serious health problems. I’ve tried to interest him in doing more physical activity, but it doesn’t seem to work. How do I keep my kid from becoming just another statistic?

A: First of all, you deserve a big round of applause. Recent studies have found that over 60 percent of parents of overweight 10-12-year-olds don’t think their child has a problem. Neither do about 90 percent of parents of overweight 4-8 year olds. The fact that you’re concerned is wonderful.

Childhood obesity is a big problem—and it’s getting worse every day. Over the last three decades, overall obesity rates for children doubled. For adolescents, the rate tripled. Today, a third of kids 10 to 17 are overweight—half of them qualify as obese. Overweight and obese kids have an increased risk of developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, respiratory and orthopedic problems, and Type 2 diabetes. That’s while they’re still kids. Over 80 percent of obese children become obese adults, and those health problems become even more dangerous. There’s also evidence that obesity also affects kids in non-life-threatening ways, including their academic performance, social development, and even their career success.

Your first order of business is to get your son to a doctor. This is important for a number of reasons. He or she will be able to tell exactly how overweight your son actually is. Children go through growth spurts, and often put on a bit of extra weight before shooting up in height. There’s also a chance—albeit a pretty slim one—that you’re wrong about your son and making a mountain out of a molehill.

Next on the list is to make sure your child is getting enough exercise. Current recommendations are that all of us—adults and children—should get an hour of sweat-inducing exercise every day. Unfortunately, less than a third of children 6-17 get even 20 minutes/day. And don’t count on your child getting that exercise at school. Budget problems have reduced or eliminated many physical education programs.

Limiting TV and video game time is critical. The Kaiser Family Foundation recently found that kids 8-18 spend an average of six hours/day in front of one kind of screen or another. While some of that time is clearly important, a lot isn’t. So let your son earn his screen time by putting in an equal amount of hours doing physical activity. If he balks, at least pick up some games for whatever device you have (X-Box, Wii, etc). Some of the new motion-sensing titles may be more successful in getting your son off the couch than you are.

Of course you should pay attention to your son’s diet, but don’t forget about his drinks. We all know that sugary sodas are bad news. But fruit juice isn’t much better. You can minimize problems by insisting on regular (and healthy) family dinners, a good breakfast, drinking more water, and banning junk-food snacks from your home. Also, make sure your son gets enough sleep—9-10 hours/night. Less than that increases his obesity risk.

Finally, take a look at your own behavior. Are you practicing what you’re preaching? At 12, your son is paying more attention to what you do than what you say. But your words are still important. So rather than focus on his weight, talk to him about his health. Coming down too hard could backfire and make the problem worse.