Archive for “M Brown” Tag

Kids Fitness: Missing the Point… Again

kids fitness

By Dr. Kwame M. Brown

It would help to read the following article before reading this post, but I will try to summarize below.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/health/features/article1689463.ece

The title of the article: “Is PE a waste of time?”, by Barbara Lantin of the Sunday Times. Yet another provocative title. I guess that’s useful, but the problem is that most do not read through articles like this. I do. So, I am going to first communicate that this title is not supported at ALL by the contents.

The gist here is the author and others grossly misinterpreting some longitudinal research done in the EarlyBird Diabetes Study in England.

The purpose of the study was to look at potential causal factors in the development of Type II (obese) diabetes. They studied overall activity levels of kids, and observed that no matter the activity level offered kids, they chose their own activity level (opting out or in) and effort level.

The researchers concluded from this that activity level must be genetically predetermined by some “activitystat” gene.

[dna]

Nice hypothesis, but there is one major problem with this conclusion:

Genes are old. The problems with rampant childhood obesity are relatively new. Therefore, we must consider… Gene expression itself is heavily determined / influenced by environment.

I am certain that such a genetically influenced trend like an “activitystat” exists.
To attribute it as the sole cause of many kids getting little to no exercise and kids fitness non existent at all is a fallacy.

They make some really strong conclusions on their website (while fighting for what is reportedly an unlikely funding renewal):

http://www.earlybirddiabetes.org/findings.php

Unfortunately, they make definitive statements like:

“Children’s activity not determined by environmental opportunity Green spaces and sports centres do not influence the physical activity of children Like most things biological, a child’s activity level seems to be ‘set’ by the brain, and therefore strongly defended against change”

What they are missing: No matter what exists in the environment – children don’t have cars. If the parent does not bring, the child does not go! Anyone who works with children every day would know this. So to look just at the presence of green spaces and centres “around” where the child lives is an insufficient parameter.

The author fails in the article “Is PE a waste of time” and the researchers fail in the findings section of their own website to recognize the interaction of availability of play spaces in the neighborhood with the will of the parent, despite saying right above…

“Obese children – parents unaware and unconcerned. Today’s parents are oblivious of their children’s weight. Parents are key partners in the drive to halt obesity, but will have little impact unless educated to recognize the problem”
So, let me get this straight: You are making the conclusion that low activity is genetically predetermined and highly resistant to change, but recognize parental education as a major factor? How can both be true? C’mon SON!!!

Now, I will turn my attention to the title “Is PE a waste of time”. Clearly not, if well designed, by their own admission, because also in the findings section of the EarlyBird website is the following:

Children who keep active are no lighter, but they are metabolically healthier: The UK and US Governments advise at least 60 minutes moderate physical activity every day.

Only 42% of the EarlyBird boys and 11% of the girls met this guideline consistently over the three-year period from 5-8yr. Importantly (because governments use BMI as their outcome measure), there were no differences in the trend for BMI over the four time points in either sex, but the more active children became metabolically healthier.

The study questions the utility of BMI as the outcome measure of physical activity programmes in children and also whether the bar for girls should be lowered (girls systematically record less physical activity than boys). (Metcalf BS – Arch Dis Child 2008).

Look at the last statement above – BMI has been consistently used as a parameter for years in studies on childhood obesity / inactivity. This is why the article and many others are missing the point. This is not about weight. It is about the habits that CREATE the higher weight in some kids, but adversely AFFECT ALL CHILDREN.

In conclusion:

Despite my bashing this study, it provides some really valuable information on kids fitness. Pretty well designed and executed (it seems), the EarlyBird study helps us delve deeper in to the causal factors in childhood obesity/inactivity.

My quarrel is with the conclusions made by some of the researchers, and with the result that this will have in creating a certain appearance to the layperson. As an aside, I never use the term layperson in an insulting way. I know very little about solar panel engineering, so I am a layperson. It has nothing to do with intelligence level, just amount and intensity of study

Is PE a waste of time? If you only care about what children weigh when left to their own devices, yes. But yet again, I feel compelled to say as I often have – obesity is the sneeze.

Physical play, when done with children’s needs (and yes, wants) in mind, treats the disease of inactivity and lack of physical enjoyment. PE that concentrates on caloric expenditure and measuring BMI treats the symptom. This placates politicians and statisticians, but does very little for children.

Children need thoughtful play time and play spaces dedicated to and designed for their natural proclivities. They also need time playing with adults. Furthermore, adults need to be proactive in providing healthy foods to support the play.

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Youth Fitness

 

“Fitness” in Early Childhood: Part I

 

This article is Part I of a series by Dr. Kwame M Brown. There will be more to come, including details about programming and resources for our members.

 

I spend all day around preschoolers and parents.  We have a great preschool here at Lee District RECenter in Franconia, VA and the teachers here are all about play!  I don’t regularly work formally with the preschool children, but interact with them and play little games with them throughout the day as they bang on my window, or I see them in the hall, or play hopscotch with them on the sidewalk outside.  Our teachers are wonderful all by themselves and don’t really need me that much. 

 

I am often asked how to do fitness programs for kids at this age.   The answer I often give is that the programming is easy:  Combine outdoor play (mostly) lots of pretend play and obstacle courses.  For older toddlers, you can begin adding simple tag games, crawling or hopping relays, and very simple throw, catch and kick games.  There are tons of great activities available on the web for this age group. 

 

The hard part:  the teaching! 

 

With this group you have to be in equal parts:

 

  1. Understanding
  2. Engaged / Energetic
  3. Patient
  4. Creative
  5. Silly
  6. Uninhibited
  7. Authoritative (for safety only)

 

Running a fitness program for older children and teens is as much or slightly more about the personnel as the program.  Running youth fitness programs for the preschool age is overwhelmingly about the personnel more than the program. 

 

If you consider yourself a fitness professional, or a highly qualified coach, you may not be successful in running preschool program.  If you, on the other hand, consider yourself a play partner, you can be incredibly successful.  Kids will ask when they will see you again.  My assistant and I have kids who run and jump into our arms when we see them!  They know that we are having fun being with them.  They know that we’re not there to get performance out of them, but to enjoy their play experiences alongside them. 

 

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Learn to Train Kids from 6 – 18 (Athletes & Non-Athletes Alike)…

 

with the Youth Fitness Specialist – Level 1 certification

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kids Fitness: Why they Shouldn’t Lock Out Their Joints

 

 

Kids Fitness Physiology

by Dr. Kwame M. Brown

 

This article will by no means be an exhaustive discussion of the evidence, but I look forward to elaborating as we get responses. 

 

Installment #476 in things I keep hearing people say:

 

“You should lock out the joints at the end of a (bench press, squat, etc)”.  The joints need stress to get stronger.” 

 

By this logic I should do the following:

 

1. Beat my head against a wall to protect myself from brain injuries (After all I am putting my cranium under much needed stress, right?

 

2. Yell at kids all the time and berate them to improve their self esteem

 

I think we can agree that just because something needs to get stronger, this doesn’t mean that all stress on that thing is good! 

 

I could just simply say that this is wrong, but it’s better for all concerned (especially kids) if we address the real problem.  The real problem is a combination of a lack of understanding of how joints work combined with a pretty loose application of terminology. 

 

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Cross Fit Kids vs. IYCA

Kids Fitness Programming

by Dr. Kwame M. Brown

 

I had the pleasure today of observing an hour of a kids fitness’ program that, with a little work, could develop into a great program. 

 

The Kids Fitness Program

 

There were about 8 kids, aged about 6 – 11.  The program was written on a board ahead of time, and the instructors discussed it and made changes ahead of time.  They started out with some of the standard fare warm ups (jumping jacks, high knees, butt kicks).  The kids then moved to an “animal” based relay around cones.  They moved like bears, crabs, bunnies, and frogs.  From here, there was a 10 minute section of skill development, with instruction on bodyweight squats and shoulder presses (using light plastic sticks).  This was followed by a game called Cross Fit baseball, which amounted to themed stations:  burpees, box jumps, squats, shoulder presses (the two instructed exercises).  The kids went through several rounds of reps according to age (to make it fun).  Then there was a game called Four Corners where one child was blindfolded, picked a number, and pointed to a corner.  In each corner there were stations denoting a particular exercise, and the kids basically did a musical chairs type thing to get to random stations.  They stopped when the one who was choosing pointed to a corner.   The exercise was performed for the number of reps chosen, and it would start over. 

 

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IYCA: Consider This

 

 

IYCA Code…

by Dr. Kwame M. Brown

 

The below is said with love, and I mean that. 

 

"Research Shows"… "It is a well known fact that"… "There is evidence to support"…

 

These are all statements I have heard time and time again to support statements that people believe.  I feel it is time for me to say something as a classically trained and field experience scientist / practitioner. 

 

"Research Shows":  Does it?  Which research?  Does research show the opposite of what you are saying, or show it less than the research than you are quoting?  If so, and you have chosen not to include that information, you are being disingenuous.  Period. 

 

"It is a well known fact that…":  Is it?  Very few things are well known facts, except that kids grow and learn. 

 

"There is evidence to support":  Much like #1, which evidence? 

 

These are all sneaky statements that serve to make us sound all "experty".

 

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