Did you know that obesity affects one-in-five children in the United States? Every September, National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month provides a chance for Americans to address this issue and offers strategies to help overcome it.
Health issues associated with obesity
Children with obesity are more likely to have chronic health issues such as asthma, sleep apnea and type 2 diabetes, among others.
They’re also more likely to be bullied and may continue to struggle with obesity as adults.
Treating and preventing obesity
Childhood obesity is both treatable and preventable. The more kids are taught to make healthy choices, the better able they are to maintain a healthy body weight. Here’s what parents can do:
• Encourage eating meals together. Studies show that when families regularly eat together, children are more likely to make healthy food choices. Eating at home also ensures that everyone eats the appropriate serving size.
• Avoid buying sugary snacks and drinks. Instead, stock the kitchen with healthy snacks like fruit, vegetables, hummus, nuts and yogurt.
• Model good behavior. Children learn by watching you, so they’re more likely to exercise and eat well if they see that you do. Make having a healthy lifestyle a priority in your family.
• Don’t put them on a diet. Restricting what your child consumes may lead to bad eating habits and low self-esteem as they get older. Offer balanced meals and snacks at regular times during the day and encourage more physical activity.
While children come in a range of shapes and sizes, obesity presents serious health risks and needs to be dealt with accordingly. If your child is overweight, be sure to consult a doctor or other health professional as soon as possible.
The 5-2-1-0 rule
To make sure everyone in your family has a healthy body shape and weight, follow the 5-2-1-0 rule. Every day, eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables, have no more than two hours of screen time, get at least one hour of exercise and drink zero sugary beverages.
6 keys to complete wellness
1. A balanced diet
A healthy lifestyle starts with smart dietary choices. Privilege fruits and vegetables for their high content of vitamins and minerals. You should also make room for whole grains, which are packed with heart-friendly fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. Aim to reduce your consumption of salt, trans fats, refined sugars and fried foods. In addition, it’s a good idea to regularly substitute meat with legumes, eggs and plant-based proteins such as tofu. Don’t forget that balance is key, however. Allow yourself a treat from time to time, otherwise you may become frustrated and be less likely to stick to a healthy diet.
2. An active lifestyle
Regular physical activity improves coordination, balance, cardiovascular health and self-esteem. In addition, it strengthens bones, decreases stress, helps you manage your weight and reduces your risk of developing heart disease and certain cancers. The World Health Organization recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of physical activity per week for people aged 18 to 64. If you’re not sure how to meet this objective, try taking the stairs instead of the elevator and privilege active transportation, such as biking and walking, whenever possible. If you struggle to keep yourself motivated, join a gym with a friend and work out together.
3. A restful sleep
Generally speaking, adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep per night to feel energized and maintain their physical and mental health. To help you sleep better, make sure you have a comfortable mattress and pillow and that your bedroom is dark, cool and well-ventilated. Avoid screens, stimulants and physical activity before bed and plan for at least two hours between supper and sleep. Finally, try to make your sleep schedule as regular as possible and, if you can manage it, try to stick to it all the time, weekends included.
4. Optimal hydration
Being sufficiently hydrated is essential to ensure your body functions properly. Recommendations about how much water you need to drink a day vary and the amount required by an individual depends on many factors, including height, weight and lifestyle. One thing to keep in mind is that foods like soup and fresh fruits and veggies all count towards your daily water intake. However, try to privilege water over sugary drinks and juices, as it’s free of calories, helps regulate body temperature and aids in intestinal transit by facilitating the decomposition of food.
5. A supportive social network
Social activities are beneficial to both your physical and mental health. According to various studies, social interactions help reduce feelings of anxiety, mitigate symptoms of depression and decrease blood pressure and inflammation. Some studies also suggest that, in certain cases, a healthy social life can help reinforce positive habits like eating well and sticking to an exercise program. Finally, a strong and caring social network offers support in difficult times. If yours is sparse, try joining classes or volunteering. These activities offer great opportunities to meet new people and develop your interests.
6. Mental well-being
Preserving your mental health is crucial to maintaining your overall health. First and foremost, try to develop healthy strategies for dealing with stress, starting with reserving time for yourself in your schedule. Mediating, listening to music, going on nature hikes, reading, performing breathing exercises and getting massages are all great ways to relax. Part of adopting a healthy lifestyle involves devoting time to the activities you enjoy. This will help you keep stress under control and sleep better. In turn, you’ll have the energy you need to prepare healthy meals, work out and keep up with your social life.
Why consult a physical therapist?
Physical therapy provides preventive and rehabilitative treatment for neurological, musculoskeletal and cardiovascular problems. These may include muscle or joint injuries, chronic pain, arthritis, tendinitis and headaches. Physical therapists are also trained in helping with poor posture, loss of balance, dizziness, vertigo, pelvic rehabilitation and even delays in motor development in children.
Physical therapists can treat a person’s functional limitations, regardless if they’re caused by health problems (multiple sclerosis, stroke, arthritis, paralysis, etc.) or by an injury (sprain, fracture, strain, bursitis, etc.). They work with individuals of all ages wanting to recover the full potential of their physical abilities following an accident or sports injury. Depending on the situation, treatments can involve a combination of different techniques, such as applying heat or ice, exercise, manipulative therapy, and even electrotherapy.
Consult a physical therapist to learn more about the full range of services and treatments they provide.
How’s your swing?
Would you like to improve your cardiovascular endurance while having fun? Maybe you should sign up for a racket sport! Badminton, tennis, squash, racquetball, table tennis—there are numerous possibilities.
In addition to being great for the heart, racket sports help strengthen lots of different muscles. Besides the legs, which work hard as you move around the court, and the arm, which holds the racket, the back muscles and abdominals contribute to every stroke. And that’s not all—coordination, flexibility, balance, agility, concentration, and anticipation are all elements that racket sports help to improve. Players can easily expend enough energy to lose weight.
Badminton and table tennis may be Olympic sports, but they’re ideal for beginners as well. Even if you’ve never played a racket sport, you’ll still manage to learn to rally pretty fast. If you tend to like more intense sports, opt for squash or racquetball; you can burn between 1,000 and 1,500 calories in just one session!
Nadal, Djokovic, Sharapova, Williams… Do the great tennis stars inspire you? Why not try to imitate your idol? Just take a few lessons to learn the basics or ask a friend to introduce you to the sport.
Whatever your choice, racket sports are perfect to de-stress after a hard day or for sharing good times with friends. Why not give it a try? The ball is in your court!
Racket sports are great for the heart. Why not give it a try?
Your first visit with your physical therapist
During your first appointment, the physical therapist will assess your current condition by asking a series of questions about your injury or pain and how it’s limiting your daily activities. You can also expect questions about your medical history, such as previous injuries, current health problems, and if you’re taking medications.
You’ll also undergo a series of physical tests to evaluate your condition and determine its cause. Your physical therapist will then be able to diagnose the source of the problem and recommend the proper course of action.
Treatment can begin as early as the first or second visit. The frequency and number of treatments will depend on several factors, such as age, type of injury and overall commitment. You need to be an active participant in your rehabilitation by doing the recommended exercises on a daily basis. Consult a physical therapist for more information about services and treatment.
The pleasures of riding
Have you always loved animals and the great outdoors? Why not finally unite these two passions by signing up for riding lessons? Not only will you be able to stay in shape, but you’ll also be able to relax and enjoy the outdoors all year round.
Riding is much more than just sitting on a horse. Although it is an individual sport, teamwork is required between the rider and his or her mount—in a way, it is really all about developing a relationship with the horse. Consequently, it is essential to get to know your horse and the way it behaves so as to make the most of the experience. In addition to practical experience, riding lessons also include a bit of horse care theory.
Can horseback riding really be considered as a sport? Isn’t it the horse that does all the work? Actually, no. Riding develops balance, lung capacity, and muscle tone, which is essential for both good posture and guiding the horse. The muscles of the shoulders, back, and thighs, as well as the abdominal and gluteal muscles, all have their role to play. Different skills and levels of physical effort are required by the rider for walking, trotting, cantering, galloping, and jumping. Riding is also a great activity for improving self-confidence, as a great deal of mastery is required to guide a horse and to be ready to deal with the unexpected.
You might prefer to have quality time alone with horse and trainer by treating yourself to private lessons. Group classes are generally more affordable and are fun if you’d like to enjoy some time with friends.
Riding is all about collaboration between rider and horse.
Dry January: the benefits of abstaining from booze
After imbibing liberally over the holiday season, many people decide to give up drinking in January. Whatever your reasons for taking on this challenge, here are some benefits that are likely to come from abstaining from alcohol.
1. General health
Excessive drinking can have a devastating impact on your health. High blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels, liver disease and certain cancers are all potential consequences of long-term alcohol abuse. If you’ve been drinking more than you should, quitting for a month won’t turn back the clock, but it’s unlikely to do you any harm.
The biggest health benefit of abstaining from alcohol, however, is that it allows you to assess how you feel without it and reflect on your normal consumption habits. A month without booze may be the ticket you need to help you reset.
Cutting out alcohol is likely to help you maintain a healthy sleep schedule. This, in turn, could allow you to feel more energized, which will help keep you motivated to go to the gym and eat well.
3. Immune system
There’s no evidence to suggest that abstaining from alcohol for a month will boost your immune system. However, being intoxicated temporarily suppresses it and leaves you vulnerable. In addition, long-term alcohol abuse causes inflammation throughout the body.
Drinking less is likely to trigger a domino effect leading to better sleep, more exercise and an overall healthier lifestyle, which together will have a positive influence on immunity.
4. Your relationship with alcohol
Once Dry January is over, you’ll be able to take stock of how you felt, both physically and psychologically, without alcohol. You might notice that you’re more energetic and motivated without the hangovers. Or, you may notice you don’t feel any different.
Remember that a month of abstinence won’t be much help if afterward you return to excessive consumption. Overall, it’s far better for your health to be a moderate drinker than one who fluctuates from one extreme to the other.
If you feel like you rely on alcohol to function, talk to a healthcare professional. Abruptly quitting on your own could cause potentially serious withdrawal symptoms.