Category: Physical Activity

Harnessing Exercise Games To Help Kids (and Parents!) Lose Weight

 

Obese kids may be able to drop weight with the help of an unlikely aid: video games. Special exercise video games helped overweight children drop pounds – and improve their cholesterol and blood pressure – while they were having fun, in a study reported in Pediatric Obesity.”

by Linda Carroll, Reuters, July 31 2018

Summary

With the growing issue of childhood obesity, it’s becoming more and more important of finding ways of motivating kids to get active and stay healthy. In a study by Pediatric Obesity, they found that children who were encouraged to play exercise video games lost weight. Some as much as 4% of their BMI.

The Study’s Findings

A group of 46 families, all with overweight children, were split into two groups. One group was assigned to try achieving an hour of physical activity a day using exercise video games. The other was put on a waiting list and didn’t take any action. After 6 months, the group who used the exercise games had lost weight at an average of 4% of their BMI, while the other group had gained weight. While they weren’t the focus of the study, the parents of the children also experienced weight loss. There is an element  self fulfilling prophecy to this study. Giving the children goals and support would likely help them lose weight even without exercise games being involved. However, the advice is still very good! Instead of trying to change what kids are interested in, it’s better to harness it to help motivate them. When physical activity becomes a normal part of their lifestyle, children are likely to maintain it as they grow into healthy adults.

Quality Exercise Game Resources

These days, almost everyone has a smart phone, especially young people. If you’re looking for apps to help turn exercise into a game for children or yourself, there are plenty of great choices to consider.

Pokemon has been a mega popular franchise with people young and old for over 20 years. Pokemon Gowhile not quite intended for exercise, does encourage you to walk around and explore. The goal, as with every Pokemon title, is to catch them all. You do this by finding them in real world, after which they can be used for battling.

Zombies, Run! is a legitimately cool game that helps motivate you by making you run for your life. In a world in the middle of a zombie apocalypse, you are the last hope for a settlement on the brink of destruction. Zombies, Run! has an immersive audiobook-esque story, where jogging becomes scavenging for supplies and zombie chases become real life sprints to escape them. Intense!  The game is critically acclaimed, with great reviews, awards, and more than a million players. If that sounds like your cup of tea, check out the trailer.

 

Read the original article at Reuters

Muscle Cramps: What Causes Them and What Stops Them

If you are among the many people plagued by muscle cramps or “charlie horses” as they are called, you should find this article from Markham Heid interesting. It was published in Medium, August 9th 2018.

Here’s a Summary

Muscle cramps are a common condition that affect 30% of adults in the United States. The commonly accepted theory for what causes them includes fluid imbalances; dehydration and not enough electrolytes. However, recent evidence seems to suggest there’s more to it.

Evidence that it may Not be Low Electrolytes

Researchers at Goethe University conducted research on marathon runners to see who experienced muscle cramps. What they found is that runners struck by cramps had the same levels of electrolytes as runners that weren’t.  This likely means that electrolytes are only a possible contributor to cramps in certain situations, rather than a blanket cause. The theory is even further strengthened when considering research that shows ingesting more electrolytes doesn’t help stop cramping. When it comes to actually curing cramps, the researchers suggest thinking of cramps as a disorder in our nerves instead of the muscle itself.

Humans have something called the Golgi tendon organ, a part of the nervous system that exists at the intersection of muscles and tendons. Basically, it regulates how hard your muscles contract. If something interferes with it, your muscles can contract to the point where they cause pain. This idea starts to make even more sense when you consider that cramps are commonly associated with conditions that cause nerve damage: ALS, Type 2 Diabetes, and aging.

What To Do About Muscle Cramps

Unfortunately, it seems like most advice for stopping muscle cramps isn’t very effective. The piece of advice that seems to hold the most weight is that stretching out your muscles while a cramp is beginning helps prevent it. However, preventative stretching before bed was shown not to decrease night cramps. Also, while fluid to electrolyte imbalances aren’t the end all cause of cramps, maintaining a good balance is still good for you, and can possibly increase your cramp resistance.

While not having an easy cure might be disheartening, there is are several cramp treatments still in testing that look promising. Electrical stimulation of muscle was shown to reduce cramping in both healthy individuals and individuals with increased inclination for cramps. Several drugs are also being developed that try to regulate our body’s electrical activity and muscle excitability. It won’t be long until muscle cramps are a thing of the past.

Read more about muscle cramps at the original article published on Medium.

To learn about the importance of hydration aside from electrolytes and cramps, check out this other article from us: Drink Enough Water? Even 1% Dehydration Could Be Slowing Your Mental Processes