My Friend Shannon won a pair of jeans recently!
“Today, I am wearing a pair of jeans that I forgot about. When I bought them, I could barely squeeze into them and get them fastened and then they were so tight, I was horribly uncomfortable. For the record, they fit much better in the fitting room a couple of years ago, when I was sucking in my stomach for the 30 seconds it took to put the jeans on and look in the mirror and determine that I thought they looked good.
I found out over the weekend that they fit just fine now! YAY”
Okay, so she didn’t exactly win them, but unexpected clothing finds like these are a nice reward.
I think everyone knows that we have become accustomed to large portion sizes. And large portion sizes can add up to too many calories which can add up to weight gain.
Unless you have read a food label and carefully measured out one serving you may not realize how big your “normal” portions really are. This video will show you:
When you are done with that one, check out this video that shows what 2000 calories, the “typical” recommended daily intake, looks like coming from some of your favorite foods:
What caused the current obesity epidemic? Is it that we are eating more now? Or are we less active than we were? Most likely, it is a combination of both. And although the typical American diet is given plenty of blame for causing people to gain weight, a low level of physical activity deserves attention, too.
One way to answer this question is to look back at what life was like about 100 years ago, when obesity was uncommon. Unfortunately, no one thought to make accurate measures of daily activity back then. But there is a way to go back in time and assess the diet and physical activity that was common 100 years ago.
In my Health & Fitness column in the Aiken Standard this week I wrote about an interesting study that essentially took researchers back in time to measure physical activity. The results show that we are much less active today, which certainly plays a big role in the obesity epidemic.
You can learn more about the study I mentioned here.
The childhood obesity epidemic is usually blamed, in part, on the fact that most kids aren’t active enough at home and at school. Opportunities for activity in school are less common now because programs like physical education and recess are being cut in an effort to save money or to dedicate time for test preparation. This has an effect not only on health but on academic performance, since regular activity improves attention, memory, and learning (in addition to the health benefits).
Parents are partly to blame, too. There are plenty of missed opportunities for physical activity outside of school. Since most adults don’t get enough activity, it is no surprise that they aren’t encouraging their kids to be active.
Adults get the same benefits from regular physical activity as children do. Just as kids who are active during the day perform better at school, adults who are active at work are more productive. But most people spend much of their work day sitting with little to no activity. This is bad for health and for job performance.
So why don’t adults get recess, too? They should!
This is the topic of my Health & Fitness column in the Aiken Standard this week. It is also the mission behind an initiative called Instant Recess, which provides tools to help people include short activity breaks into their day. Far from being a burden or a waste of time, these short bouts of activity improve health, mental wellbeing, and productivity.
We just wrapped up our spring semester and graduation was last night.
I was fortunate to have five outstanding seniors in a research topics course in which we read and discussed research in the area of exercise and neuroscience. I think they got a bit tired of writing papers, so they proposed making a video for the exercise and depression unit.
This is their take on exercise as a “drug” to treat depression:
Most kids don’t get enough physical activity. No surprise that inactivity is associated with health conditions like obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes. But a lack of activity in children can lead to poor academic performance, too.
But we are missing good opportunities to provide kids with chances to be physically active at home and in school. This is the topic of my Health & Fitness column in the Aiken Standard today.
Schools are a perfect place to include opportunities to be active. Unfortunately, opportunities for activity, from PE to recess, are among the first cuts to be made when budgets are tight. Why isn’t promoting an active, healthy lifestyle just as important as promoting math or reading or science?
A common argument is that parents should teach their children about a healthy lifestyle, not schools. I disagree. At some point, we (society) decided that parents shouldn’t have to teach their kids math or reading or science. I don’t know the exact rationale, but it likely had something to do with the fact that most parents don’t have the knowledge or skills to teach these essential subjects. Why should activity and, while we are at it, nutrition, be any different?
In fact, we have been experimenting with removing physical activity and nutrition education from schools and leaving it to parents for some time now. Given the childhood (and adult) obesity epidemic, it hasn’t gone well. Maybe it is time to revisit providing quality health, activity, and nutrition education in schools.
If you want to learn more about benefits of and ways to promote physical activity for kids the Physical Guidelines for Americans is a good place to start. In particular, the Midcourse Report offers recommendations and solutions regarding physical activity in children.
I read this interesting article in USA Today about a family who is working together to lose weight by eating healthy and exercising more. The family is participating the USA Today’s Family Fitness Challenge, which provides them with expert advice.
Predictably, their fitness is improving and they are losing weight (over 100 pounds total so far). One family member even quit smoking!
What may be surprising is that they are saving money following their new healthier diet. By preparing most meals at home they are saving about $300 per week on food!
Another happy consequence is that they are spending more time together as a family by eating meals and exercising together. No doubt this is good support for them as they try to improve their health.
They are doing this as part of a TV show (The Doctors) and they have an exercise physiologist and a nutritionist working with them, so it would be easy to think that a typical family without this support wouldn’t be successful. I disagree.
I think that if most families started preparing dinners at home, eating as a family, and going for a walk (or doing some other activity) together after dinner they would get in better shape, lose weight, and benefit from more time together.