2013 April 13 by Randall Neustaedter OMD
Children with asthma commonly develop wheezing or cough after exertion. Exercise-induced asthma is a significant problem for many children and may hamper their physical fitness. Some children will avoid exertion because it brings on symptoms, further reducing their stamina, endurance, and fitness.
A review of 29 studies showed that a physical training program improves exercise-induced asthma symptoms. A wide range of exercise training programs in these studies included swimming, running, aerobics, strength and interval exercises, and cycling.
Improvement occurred especially in the Peak Expiratory Flow (PEF), which measures the speed of expiration. PEF measures the degree of resistance to air flow or constriction is present in the airways. PEF is measured with a simple handheld device.
The number of asthma attacks and days of wheezing also improved in children who participated in physical training programs.
This review of studies showed that successful physical training programs that improved asthma symptoms were characterized by 4 components.
1. Intensity of training is more important than the type of exercise. Children should have an individualized training program with an intensity at their personal breathing threshold.
2. Asthma symptoms during the training should be well controlled with medication.
3. A minimum amount of training is 120 minutes/week, divided into at least 2 sessions per week.
4. A training program should consist of at least 3 months duration.
Wanrooij V, Willeboordse M, Dompeling E, Van de Kan K. Exercise training in children with asthma: a systematic review. British Journal of Sports Medicine. Online First, published on April 4, 2013 as 10.1136/bjsports-2012-091347
2013 April 12 by Randall Neustaedter OMD
A simple and very effective way to improve attention functions in children is to make sure they are getting daily exercise. Keep your kids moving and involved in physical activity programs.
Exercise increases the production of several neurotransmitters which are known to improve memory and attention, and decrease impulsivity. These include dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. Exercise, especially sprinting, also increases Brain-derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), a protein in the brain that improves the communication between nerves. For a detailed explanation about how exercise improves brain function, read Dr. John J Ratey’s book, Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain.
Short bursts of exercise will increase these neurotransmitter levels in the hours following exercise, for example during the school day. This can result in more effective learning. But a prolonged exercise program will also raise these neurotransmitter levels over the long-term, providing a persistent benefit to attention functions.
Wigal SB, et al. Exercise: Applications to Childhood ADHD. Journal of Attention Disorders 2013 17: 279.
2011 February 23 by Randall Neustaedter OMD
What factor is most important to ensure adequate bone density in teenage girls? When 80 young women were followed from age 12 to 22, the only factor that influenced bone density was exercise. Calcium intake and oral contraceptive use had no effect on bone strength. There may be other factors such as vitamin D levels from sun exposure and dietary sources, but the data pertaining to exercise was so dramatic that the study results are very convincing. What does this say to the dairy industry’s claims that milk creates strong bones? How should this study impact our thinking about the minimum daily intake of calcium for children? It should reassure those parents who limit dairy intake because of an allergy or sensitivity to milk, and it should make us less militant about the daily dose of calcium. It should also encourage parents to require an exercise program during early childhood and the teenage years.