A new development has been made in the effort to educate kids in America about obesity. This article outlines an approach featured in JAMA Pediatrics about the benefits of older kids teaching younger kids about healthy eating and getting active.
A program called Healthy Buddies encourages older kids to act as role models to younger kids. Hearing the message from older kids makes the young students more likely to be receptive to and retain information about health, self image, and diet. Younger children will take cues from older role models and strive to follow their example.
Over the course of the ’09-’10 school year, 19 schools were selected to participate in the Healthy Buddies program and researches tested changes waist size and BMI, as well as physical activity, heart fitness, self-image and knowledge about healthy living and diet.
The results showed how this program can turn negative peer pressure into positive messages and examples. Just like adults may read and engage with fitness blogs or join group classes at the gym, children can be affected greatly by the positive examples and accountability created by their peers.
Making simple and gradual lifestyle changes to prevent obesity can drastically improve your quality of life and can even help you live longer. Check out these reasons, tips and guides for making simple decisions in your everyday life that can help your physical and mental wellness.
Feeling your best boosts your excitement for life!
The American Heart Association recommends 30-minutes of moderate activity, but three 10-minute periods of activity are almost as beneficial to your overall fitness as one 30-minute session. This is achievable! Physical activity may also help encourage you to spend some time outdoors. Sunlight on your skin helps your body produce vitamin D, which brings many added health benefits.
Here are some reasons why physical activity is proven to improve both mental and physical health.
Physical activity improves physical wellness.
It enhances your immune system and decreases the risk of developing diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
Reduced risk factors
Becoming more active can lower your blood pressure by as much as 4 to 9 mm Hg. That’s the same reduction in blood pressure delivered by some antihypertensive medications. Physical activity can also boost your levels of good cholesterol.
Physical activity boosts mental wellness.
Regular physical activity can relieve tension, anxiety, depression and anger. You may not only notice a “feel good sensation” immediately following your physical activity, but most people also note an improvement in general well-being over time during the weeks and months as physical activity becomes a part of your routine.
Exercise increases the flow of oxygen which directly affects the brain. Your mental acuity and memory can be improved with physical activity.
Physical activity prolongs your optimal health.
Without regular physical activity, the body slowly loses its strength, stamina and ability to function well. And for each hour of regular exercise you get, you’ll gain about two hours of additional life expectancy, even if you don’t start until middle age. Moderate exercise, such as brisk walking, for as little as 30 minutes a day has the proven health benefits listed above as well as:
- Improves blood circulation, which reduces the risk of heart disease
- Keeps weight under control
- Helps in the battle to quit smoking
- Improves blood cholesterol levels
- Prevents and manages high blood pressure
- Prevents bone loss
- Boosts energy level
- Helps manage stress
- Releases tension
- Promotes enthusiasm and optimism
- Helps you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly
- Improves self-image
- Increases muscle strength, increasing the ability to do other physical activities
- Provides a way to share an activity with family and friends
- Reduces coronary heart disease in women by 30-40 percent
- Reduces risk of stroke by 20 percent in moderately active people and by 27 percent in highly active ones
- Establishes good heart-healthy habits in children and counters the conditions (obesity, high blood pressure, poor cholesterol levels, poor lifestyle habits, etc.) that lead to heart attack and stroke later in life
- Helps delay or prevent chronic illnesses and diseases associated with aging and maintains quality of life and independence longer for seniors
So why not see for yourself? Once you get over the inertia and find creative ways to fit physical activity into your life, we think you’ll agree that the effort to get moving is worth it!
Tell us how you’ve been getting active and share your own tips for working physical activity into your busy schedule!
Adult and childhood obesity and overweight levels continue to increase: Currently, 65% of all American adults are obese or overweight.
Cultural changes over time have changed our eating habits and activity levels, leading to unhealthy lifestyles with immediate and long-term consequences:
Risk for bone and joint problems
Likely to become obese adults
It is more difficult today to create an active lifestyle.
People are less active due to technology and better mass transportation.
Sedentary jobs have increased 83% since 1950; Physically active jobs now make up only about 25% of our workforce. That is 50% less than 1950.
Our average work week is longer. Americans work 47 hours a week – 164 more hours a year than 20 years ago.
Extra weight costs us physically and financially.
Obesity costs American companies $225.8B per year in health-related productivity losses.
The average healthcare cost exceeds $3,000 per person annually. An obese employee costs employers an additional $460 – $2,500 in medical costs and sick days per year.
Though these consequences may seem scary, don’t get bogged down with the negative thinking about becoming obese. Instead, focus on living a healthier happier lifestyle with a healthy diet, consistent physical activity, and instilling those positive habits in our children. Health and happiness will automatically come with those decisions.