Preventing Type 2: Fabulous Way To Keep Kids In Shape
Kids delight in movement, and the child in us never outgrows its natural exuberance for physical activity.
That exuberance may become dulled by long hours sitting at desks and in front of TVs, or computer screens, but can easily be reignited by stimulating our innate sense of fun and play.
That’s why some researchers studying the benefits of exercise on today’s screen-attuned children changed the name High Intensity Interval Training, or HITT, to Fun Fast Activity Blast, or FFAB.
HIIT, or FFAB refers to quick, all-out intense bursts of exercise followed by short recovery periods of lesser activity. This type of exercise provides excellent cardiovascular and calorie burning benefits in less time than sustained aerobic workouts.
The researchers wanted to know whether FFAB would be a practical, engaging way to benefit the health of children and adolescents, a part of our population increasingly out-of-shape.
During the past 25 years, while physical education, recess, and unsupervised outdoor playtime declined, sedentary technology-based activity mushroomed. The unfortunate result is that by 2012 more than a third of our children and adolescents were found either overweight or obese, putting them at risk for early onset type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic illnesses.
The researchers discovered that FFAB may help counter this trend because of the health advantages it offers, plus this type of exercise fits well into school days, and a contemporary family’s busy lifestyle.
The research focused on 101 adolescents; half continued their usual weekly activities, while the experimental group participated in three, 20 minute FFAB workout sessions each week for 10 weeks. The exercisers chose from appealing activity options that included dance, basketball, soccer drills, and boxing.
The study yielded two significant findings for the FFAB group:
- Their waist circumference measurements and triglyceride levels - risk indicators for metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease - significantly decreased.
- Besides the exercise sessions they increased their daily physical activity by 16 minutes. This suggests the structured workouts generated increased activity during unmonitored time.
The research participants also experienced minor improvements in blood pressure, total, and HDL cholesterol levels.
Making It Practical
To apply this research to our individual or family situation, it’s important to remember the researchers’ goal was to interest kids in practical, sustainable, fun workouts—activities that would whet their appetite for more. So, finding pursuits that our children enjoy is one key to exercise success. Joining them in some of their activities - provided we’re in good enough shape - may be another.
Consider, for instance, doing a 20 minute dance or exercise video with your kids, or engaging them in 20 minutes of nonstop biking, basketball, soccer, walking-jogging, roller blading, or a game of tag. You might even try 20 minutes of family speed raking, quick car washing, or rapid garage cleaning. Then, once your Fun Fast Activity Blast is done, take a few minutes to cool down with some slower movements, maybe stretching, or walking.
Just two or three of these FFAB sessions a week can help our kids not only reach adulthood in good health, but may improve their present day sleep, mood, ability to concentrate, and overall school performance, as well.