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Children's Health From Head to Toe

Children

Saturday, October 1st 2005

Children don't come with instruction manuals

We have all read the headlines: 'Our kids are facing an obesity epidemic', 'They will be the first generation not to outlive their parents', 'Corporations are filling them with sugars, fats and then putting them on the couch for hours on end'. Brett Humble uses his years of experience to break down how to reach the youth of today and get them excited about being active and wise to what they eat.

Just like the adult form, children are all very unique individuals, all developing, growing and evolving at different rates and time.

Development of children can simply be broken down into five key areas that should be addressed as early as possible in a childs life.

1. GROSS AND FINE MOTOR DEVELOPMENT (PHYSICAL WELLBEING)

A childs health is connected to preparedness for performance in physical activity. Optimum motor development is essential from large/ gross motor movements that occur in the playground to the small / fine motor movements required for holding a crayon or putting together puzzles. In relation to physical activity in children, it is essential that children learn major movement activities in order to have a life long appreciation of fitness. During early childhood, there should be an opportunity to work on walking, balancing, throwing and catching. Children should have trial and error experiences as well as beginning patterns and the integration of skills. These skills are learnt by the body through mind learning and emphasis should be on imitation and games that allow children to assume proper movement patterns, with quality of movements

Children should have an opportunity to systematically develop basic movement and perception skills. If a child has the opportunity to learn motor skills in small actions, step by step, it will ensure that they will succeed in the future.

2. SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Emotionally and socially, children are extremely immature. Children as early as possible should have stable interactions with others developing a sense of well being that enables children to participate positively in all school activities as well as team sport environments. Supportive peers and parents who develop secure relationships assist children in acquiring such characteristics as self-confidence and the ability to function as a member of a group.

3. APPROACHES TO LEARNING

A child can be successful in schooling and with physical activity in many ways and these approaches will differ between cultures. Children are curious by nature, creative, independent, and generally persistent. Adults who encourage their children will enhance early learning and development.

4. LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT

Language empowers children to participate in both cognitive and affective parts of any physical activity program. Experience with language, understanding what, why and how they are doing provides children with the tools to interact with others and allows them to represent their thoughts, feelings and experiences.

Communicating effectively throughout physical activity with other children and adults will enable the experience to be one of a greater learning experience.

5. COGNITION AND GENERAL KNOWLEDGE

Children need to interact with people and materials in their environment and to learn from their ever-changing surroundings. Experiences in learning settings with skilled and appropriate adult interaction allow children to construct knowledge of pattern and relations, cause and effect and ways of problem solving everyday situations.

Children are structurally and physiologically different from adults. Before puberty, children cannot keep up with adults. They have less muscle glycogen leading to a decreased ability to perform anaerobic tasks. They have a lower maximal and sub maximal cardiac output. Their hearts are only 30 percent the size of yours. They carry less blood; therefore less oxygen is provided to their working muscles. Kids generally have low resting blood pressure. Similarly they have a low absolute VO2 maximum (the amount of oxygen carried to the muscles per minute).
Your offspring have a quick-energy system similar to yours. They have superior recovery rates, and they reach a steady state faster than you do. Their bodies are well suited for intermittent activity with short rest periods. Games and relay races work well, as opposed to watered down fitness programs.

Youngsters are at a high risk for heat illness due to their immature cardiovascular systems, greater surface area, increased metabolic cost (more heat is produced), immature sweat glands (less sweat volume), and increased core temperature (kids acclimatise slower). Intensity and duration initially of activity should be restrained, with a gradual increase over 11-14 days. Children should wear lightweight absorbent clothing, no rubberised sweat suits. And they should not rely on their thirst mechanism. Instead they should drink 1-150 millilitres of fluid every 15 to 30 minutes during activity. Overuse injuries are a concern. Be careful that children do not increase their frequency, intensity, or duration of activity drastically (i.e. more than 10 percent). Watch for strength and flexibility imbalances. Replace their footwear when appropriate. And be careful of running surfaces. Look for misalignment of lower extremities.

The benefits of exercise are HUGE! Exercise helps children to develop social skills such as taking turns, cooperating and learning about winning and losing.

Exercise helps children to develop physical skills such as running, hand eye coordination, and ball skills. They get a sense of belonging as they do things with other children either in a casual or organised activity.

Healthy children are usually supported by healthy parents bringing a more cohesive family unit. Exercise is a great stress reliever and will assist children struggling to sleep, concentrate and with friendships. There is also an increase in self-esteem and body image.

Brett Humble is a Freelance writer for various health & fitness magazines and brings many years of experience in Australia's fitness industry to New Zealand. He has been heavily involved in organising and coordinating fitness programmes for kids.

Article Courtesy of bodyconcepts.

Reproduced unabridged with the kind permission of Body Concepts.

Footnote from Ideal Health:

The following products are all useful Childrens Health:

Efalex Liquid
Flax Magic Oil for Kids
Inner Health Plus for Kids
Ethi Cal Bone Builder Vitamin D Powder
Immune Booster for Kids
Family C - 150gm
Kids Calm
Floradix Formula 250ml
Hi Strength Fish Oil
Mega Magnesium Powder
Max-Out Vanilla
Junior Immunofort
Liquid Calcium
Vitamin & Mineral Boost Powder
Yummi Bears Multi-Vitamin & Mineral

Related health information can be found here:

Acid and alkaline forming food
Antibiotic Use
Energy
Good nutrition for positive weight control
Immunity
Protein - a macronutrient so often overlooked
Recommended Calcium Intake for New Zealanders
Water, the elixir of life

Related articles can be found here:

Childhood vaccination: Is there a "dark side"
Doctors recommend a multi-vitamin a day
Healthy eye & brain development for babies
Junk debunked
Why take Primadophilus?

If you need help or advice, you are welcome to email our naturopathic team with your health question.

Disclaimer: The health information presented here has been written for the New Zealand health consumer. It is of a general nature and is only intended to provide a summary of the subjects covered. The information is not intended to be comprehensive or to provide medical advice to you. While all care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, no responsibility or liability is accepted, and no person should act in reliance on any statement contained in the information provided. All health ailments should be treated by a qualified health professional.

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