Health & Wellness
New Program Aims To Improve Childhood Fitness
The American Heart Association has applauded a federal government program that makes it easier for schools to promote physical fitness. The AHA called the new Physical Education for Progress (PEP) program "an important step to improving the overall health and fitness of the nation's youth by allowing local physical education programs the opportunity to better promote physically active lifestyles and appropriate disease prevention activities."
The PEP program establishes grants to help schools start, expand, and improve physical education (PE) programs for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. They can use the funds to buy equipment, hire or train PE staff, and support other programs to help students participate in PE activities.
The new guidelines emphasizing PE come at a time when government data show that 10% of children are overweight or obese and 1 in 5 children is at risk of being overweight. The number of overweight children has doubled over the past 15 years, and 70% of overweight children will be overweight and obese adults. Most of the increase has taken place in recent years; only 5.8% were overweight in the early 1970's. Studies show that this trend is associated more with low levels of physical activity than with increased food consumption.
Is it the schools responsibility or the parents responsibility to get kids fit??
Bill Gates once gave a speech at Mt. Whitney High School with these 11 rules:
Rule 1: Life is not fair - get used to it!
Rule 2: The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.
Rule 3: You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won't be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.
Rule 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.
Rule 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping: they called it opportunity.
Rule 6: If you mess up, it's not your parents' fault, so don't whine about your mistakes, learn from them.
Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent's generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.
Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they'll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.
Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time.
Rule 10: Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to a job.
Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.
The Rewards of Shut-Eye
Fact: A midday nap reverses information overload? Those feelings of irritation, frustration and declining performance on mental tasks that set in during intense encounters with new information.
Fact: The late stage of sleep? Sometimes missed by early risers? Can boost by 20% your acquisition of coordination crucial for playing a sport, a musical instrument, or any fine motor control.
Fact: Sleep strengthens the nerve circuits that underlie learning and memory, allowing the brain to make and consolidate new neural connections.
Fact: Missing out on sleep seriously impairs the body's ability to process blood sugar, impeding the action of insulin much as in diabetes. Sleep deprivation may be an important contributor to obesity. It also elevates the stress hormone cortisol.
Fact: Sleeping for six hours a night may sound pretty good, but it's not likely enough to keep your immune system happy. Restricting your sleep by a mere two hours a night for one week provokes the process of inflammation, which may set people up for heart disease.
Fact: Sleep deprivation curtails your ability to come up with creative solutions to life's challenges.
No doubt you know by now that sleep doesn't just put the brain on hold while you lay in bed. Your brain is very active during sleep. Sleep organizes the memories of habits, actions, and skills learned during the day. Sleep gives you the mental energy to master complex tasks and the ability to concentrate.
In other words, success comes not only from what you accomplish when you are awake. We also get power from the ability of body and mind to consolidate themselves during the night.
Sleep is so important that your brain remembers how much of it you get. And it compensates for sleep loss by allowing you to fall asleep faster and staying asleep longer the next night.
Sacrifice sleep and you sacrifice peak performance. It's noticeable in rates of traffic accidents and work injuries.
The trouble is, modern life is eating away at your sleep. There's too much to do, and too little time to do it in. So we give up sleep. More and more, we are sleeping less and less, and building up a sleep debt in the process.
The trouble is, say experts, society may have changed since the introduction of the light bulb eroded the natural cycles of day and night to which our energy levels are tuned. But our bodies have not.
There's no one set amount of sleep that's best for everyone. People vary greatly in their need for sleep. Still, surveys by the National Sleep Foundation report that most adults get less sleep than they need. On average, adults sleep seven hours a night during the workweek. Only 35% of adults sleep eight hours or more per night; 36% sleep 6.5 hours or less. Most people compensate by sleeping longer on weekends, a switch guaranteed to keep your body clock confused.
The price we pay for cheating sleep is steep: short-changing the brain of learning potential, short-circuiting your moods, and dimming your alertness, maybe even making you gain weight and compromising your health . Coffee can keep you going for a while. But nothing can compensate for sleep. Your body needs it and your brain needs it.
Cornell psychologist James B. Maas, Ph.D., qualifies as one of the nation's leading sleep advocates. In his book Power Sleep (HarperCollins), he implores us to sleep not necessarily more but more efficiently, so we can always perform at our best. Here are his Golden Rules of sleep.
1. Get an adequate amount of sleep every night. Identify the amount of sleep you need to be fully alert all day long and get that amount every night. It will dramatically change your mood and your ability to think critically and creatively. For some people, six hours a night may be adequate. One or two in a hundred can get by on five hours. Many others will need as much as nine or 10 hours. Whatever the amount, most people need 60 to 90 minutes more sleep than they presently get.
2. Establish a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed every night at the same time and wake up without an alarm clock at the same time every morning? Including weekends. Within six weeks the hours you spend in bed will begin to synchronize with the sleepy phase of your biological clock. Your mood will be the winner.
3. Get continuous sleep. For sleep to be rejuvenating you should get your required amount of sleep in one continuous block.
4. Make up for lost sleep as soon as possible, even though you cannot replace lost sleep all at once. And when you sleep longer to catch up, try to do so by going to bed earlier than usual. Otherwise your normal waking time will shift and you're unlikely to get to sleep at the usual time the following night.
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