Physical Fitness May Improve Children’s Academic Performance

Physical fitness may improve children’s academic performance

Overweight and obese youngsters who underwent 90 minutes of cardiovascular exercise at least three times a week had greater gray matter volume in brain regions involved with executive function and learning, motor and visual processes, researchers in Spain reported in the journal NeuroImage. The findings also showed that higher physical-fitness levels were linked to even greater changes in gray matter volume.

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Deccan Chronicle (India)/Press Trust of India (11/26),  The Telegraph (London) (tiered subscription model) (11/24)

Benefits of Having a Dog

Dog ownership may be linked to lower risk of dying from heart disease, study suggests

USA Today (11/18, Rossman) reported that research published in Scientific Reports suggests “having a dog could” be linked to “a lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.”

        Bloomberg News (11/17, Cortez) reported that investigators “analyzed the health records of 3.4 million people in” Sweden. The data indicated that people who owned a dog “were less likely to have cardiovascular disease or die from any cause during the 12 years covered by the research.”

TIME (11/17, MacMillan) reported that “the protective effect was” particularly “prominent for people living alone, who have been found to have a higher risk for early death than those who live with other people.”

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New guidelines lower definition of high blood pressure

In “To Your Health,” the Washington Post (11/13, Bernstein, Cha) reports, “Acting for the first time in 14 years, the American Heart Association, the American College of Cardiology and nine other groups redefined high blood pressure as a reading of 130 over 80, down from 140 over 90.” This “change means that 46 percent of US adults, many of them under the age of 45, now will be considered hypertensive.” The Post points out that “under the previous guideline, 32 percent of US adults had” hypertension.

On its front page, the New York Times (11/14, A1, Kolata, Subscription Publication) reports that “under the guidelines…the number of men under age 45 with a diagnosis of high blood pressure will triple, and the prevalence among women under age 45 will double.”

Bloomberg News (11/13, Cortez) reports that the update “is based on a three-year review of almost 1,000 studies.”

USA Today (11/13, Painter) reports that “the guidelines, presented at a heart association meeting and published in…the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, also spell out exactly how health care providers and people at home should check blood pressure.” For instance, physicians “and nurses are urged to let patients rest five minutes first and then to average at least two readings over two visits.” Meanwhile, “patients are urged to take regular readings at home, with a device checked out by their health care providers.”

AMA Statement on Updated Guideline for Measuring Blood Pressure

Happier Mealtimes, Healthier Eating for Kids

From the October 12th HealthDay News:

Preschoolers whose families were more positive at mealtimes ate nearly one serving more of soy-protein products, fruits or vegetables, on average, compared with those with negative family mealtimes, researchers reported in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology. The findings, based on survey data involving parents of children ages 3 to 5, showed that increased child involvement in grocery shopping as well as meal planning and preparation was tied to more positive mealtimes.

Here are her suggestions:

  • Be clear about what is expected during meals.
  • Establish a routine, eating at about the same time and in the same room or setting each day.
  • Give kids jobs. Assign individual tasks, such as setting the table.
  • Remind kids to express themselves with words and not scream when they are upset.
  • Don’t force it. Parents should encourage their children to try new foods, but after several tries it may be time to move on. Kids don’t have to like everything.
  • Stay calm. Parents should try techniques such as breathing exercises to help them keep their emotions in check.

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