Thursday, October 27, 2016

Play to get in shape? Or get in shape to play?

This site has a large international following. I am interested in some feedback from around the globe on how youth fitness is addressed in your countries. Here in the United States we have been fighting an epidemic in childhood obesity and it's related problems, particularly diabetes. Often our approach here in the U.S.A. is to sponsor community sports leagues. Football, Baseball, Softball, Volleyball, Basketball, and Soccer are among the more popular choices. Too many parents feel like that if their kids are signed up for one of these programs they are getting sufficient exercise. An article I read recently supports what I have long avocated, team sports generally do not promote fitness. Fitness can be a result preparation ahead of time for participation. Football is king in America. I coached football for 23 years and while I believe it can have great value in teaching important life skills if coached properly, I have never believed that it makes one physically fit. Smart players will make themselves as fit as possible to play the game, but the game itself is a physical meat grinder that tears the body down. At the highest levels players play either offense or defense only and spend much of the game standing. Even those playing exert themselves for 3-4 seconds then have 30 seconds or more until the next play. One look at the typical offensive lineman will tell anyone that football itself does not make one healthy. Most other team sports are similar in that much time is spent standing. Basketball and Soccer would seem to be exceptions, although at the youth level there is often less exertion than many think as explained in the article. I have 12 grandchildren so far and I enjoy watching them participate in many sports and cultural activities that my own 6 children never had opportunities for growing up on the reservation. (All my children could do was catch lizards, lift, run, and hike; they also had to read for entertainment, so deprived.)
When my oldest grandson started in a soccer league, it didn't take long for him to figure out that if you just waited, the ball would eventually come back to you. He spent most of his time sitting at midfield. lol His father is Polynesian (Have you ever heard of the Samoan Cross Country team?) He is now becoming an amazing football player (and hoepfully future thrower) which better suits his build. (ankles are as big as his teamates thighs) Fortunately his father is a former physical educator and coach who leads his children in physical activity like I did when my kids were young. They get fit to play, not play hoping to get fit. That is what I love about coaching Weightlifting and Track and Field. The activity in and of itself is healthy and the movement is inherent. The outcome is also the process.
The study below validates my opinon:
Kids' Sports Strike Out on Exercise Goals
By Crystal Phend, Senior Staff Writer, MedPage Today December 06, 2010
Youth sports haven't got enough hustle, researchers warned in a study showing that organized sports typically don't give kids their recommended daily exercise. Only 24% of children ages 7 to 14 who were monitored during soccer, baseball, or softball team practice got 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise, according to James F. Sallis, PhD, of San Diego State University in San Diego, and colleagues. The rate reached as low as 2% for girls on softball teams; soccer provided the most physical activity, they reported online in Archivesof Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. Parents shouldn't hesitate to involve theirchildren in well-organized, properly- supervised youth sports programs but they should be aware that sports are not all equal in the exercise they provide, according to an accompanying editorial. Sports probably can't be the only solution to providing young people with the exercise they need, noted editorialists Russell R. Pate, PhD, and Jennifer R. O'Neill, PhD, MPH, both of the University of South Carolina School of Public Health in Columbia. Gym class, walking or biking to and from school, and informal physical activity outside of schooland sports can make up the difference, they suggested. Indeed, some of the kids in the study may have met their 60 minutes a day through the various means, but that's not something parents should leave to chance, agreed study co-author Jordan Carlson, MA, of San Diego State University, in an interview. MedPage Today Action Points Note that many youth in this country are involved in sports programs which could provide significant physical activity. However, point out to parents that the actual amount of time spent in moderatephysical activity varies with several factors including the specific sport and the experience and motivation of the coaches. "Our recommendations to parents are to be awareof how much physical activity their kids are getting and not just assume that because kids are at sports practice for a couple of hours that they're getting a couple of hours of
physical activity," he warned MedPage Today. "Parents do need to make sure that
children have other opportunities. " Youth sports can also be improved to fulfill more of their potential for public health, Sallis' group wrote, pointing out that much of the time kids spend in practice can be inactive, such as waiting for turns or receiving verbal instructions.
The researchers' recommendations included:
Emphasize participation over competition Increase practice frequency Extend short seasons Use pedometers or accelerometers to monitor physical activity periodically during practices
Provide coaches with strategies to increase physical activity The study included 200 kids ages 7 to 14 who wore accelerometers during soccer, baseball, or softball practice in 29 different community sports leagues in middle- income cities in San Diego County. The length of practices varied substantially across the teams but without significant differences by type of sport, gender, or age. Overall, the athletes averaged 46.1% of practice spent in moderate to vigorous physical activity for a mean total of 45.1 minutes per practice. Younger athletes got significantly more moderate to vigorous exercise by an average of 13.7 minutes or 11.6% of practice time compared with those ages 11 to 14. Less than 10% of the 11- to 14-year-olds met the government-recommen ded target of 60 minutes per day during practice. One reason may be that younger kids appeared to engage "in more extraneous physical activity such as following the ball in soccer and playing side games during softball/baseball practices," Sallis' group noted in the paper. Boys also got significantly more activity during sports than girls did with an average difference of 10.7 minutes and 7.8% of practice time. Soccer appeared to be the best sport in terms of physical activity, providing an additional 13.7 minutes and 10.6% of practice time in moderate to vigorous activity than baseball and softball combined. And while vigorous activity is relatively rare for kids, the researchers noted that soccer practice provided 17 more minutes and 15.9% more of practice time in vigorous exercise than baseball and softball. Since vigorous-intensity physical activity carries stronger links to kids' body composition than moderate intensity activities, they wrote in the paper, "it appears playing soccer would be more likely to contribute to health benefits generally, and obesity prevention specifically, than playing baseball/softball. " The researchers cautioned, though, that accelerometers worn around the waist as done in the study may have underestimated the effects of upper-body activities common to baseball and softball, such as throwing, catching, and batting. Also, the definitions for moderate to vigorous physical activity require higher accelerometer thresholds for older children, which may have partly explained the observed age differences, they noted. Other limitations included the nonrandomized, cross-sectional design, limited response to the demographic survey, inclusion of kids from a single geographic region, and assessment of only community leagues with fees for participation, they added. But, "based on current findings, it appears that youth sports practices are making a less-than-optimal contribution to the public health goals of increasing
physical activity and preventing childhood obesity," Sallis' group concluded in the paper.
Primary source: Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine Source reference:
Leek D, et al "Physical activity during youth sports practices"
Adolesc Med 2010; DOI:10.1001/ archpediatrics. 2010.252.
Additional source: Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine Source
reference: Pate RR, O'Neill JR "Youth sports programs: Contribution to physical
activity" Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 2010; DOI:10.1001/ archpediatrics. 2010.245.

Make your country beautiful, lift weights!!

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