The Importance of Exercise and Healthy Eating in Young Children

Author: Nailah Abdullah

When we think about what is required to have an average, healthy lifestyle, two main ideas come to mind: exercise and healthy eating. These two points are almost always necessary in order stay healthy and fit in adulthood, but what about during childhood? When most people were kids, it was easy for them to eat just about anything and not gain an ounce of weight. Halloween comes and goes, and children can put a whole pillowcase full of candy in their stomachs and feel okay, but just like in adulthood, is it important that children have regular exercise and stick to a healthy diet? The truth is, no matter how fast or strong a child’s metabolism is, healthy eating and exercise
is for everyone, and it can help determine beneficial factors to a child’s growth, such as bone development and avoiding lifelong weight issues.

Why is Healthy Food and Exercise Important
The first step towards a healthier lifestyle is figuring out what this lifestyle pertains and why components such as exercise and healthy eating are important. Most people understand physical activity as a way to lose weight, but for children exercise plays an important role in bone development (Eliakim & Beyth, 2003). Exercise builds tissue, and in children and adolescents, “bone mineral density reaches about 90% of its peak by the end of the second decade,” and increased physical activity during this time can help in preventing bone disorders, such as
osteoporosis, later in life (Eliakim & Beyth, 2003).

How about healthy eating? How is it important for children when they can seemingly eat almost anything? Just like an adult, children need proper nutrition and not just food to fill their stomachs. In fact, because children are still growing and developing, they require a lot more and
different nutritional requirements than that of adults, which are important for proper growth and development over time. Kelley says that allowing children to eat processed and fast foods instead
of proper nutrition like fruits, vegetables and other whole foods is “pushing them toward having lifelong weight issues.” Although children have a higher metabolic rate, it is still important that their caloric intake be nutritious (2020).” On top of this, children have underdeveloped immune systems in comparison to adults, which makes them more prone to infection. A healthy diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, and other whole food help to boost children’s immune system instead of hindering it, like junk food, and other processed foods, do. A good start to a “healthy diet” is lots of water and protein to help with growth and cellular repair (Kelley 2020). In one study, it was found that exercise increased bone mineralization and strength and was found to be
maturity dependent. This suggests that the most detrimental time for exercise and healthy eating in children is around the premenarchal and early puberty time frame. This is when children have “higher levels of factors that enhance bone formation such as estrogen, testosterone, GH, and IGF-I.” These hormonal factors in children, when influenced by exercise, can help make bones stronger and respond better to weight bearing exercise. (Kelley 2020).

Preventing Childhood Overweight and Obesity
One of the most influential people in a child’s life is their parents. Children typically see their parents every day, eating with them for at least one meal a day. In a review done by Pocock et. al, it was found that there were various external influences that parents said they were
competing with, such as perceived media, marketing influences and peer pressure, that act as barriers to ‘healthy’ weight-related behaviors (2009). It is important that parents do their best in properly educating their children on why it is important to both eat healthily and exercise, so to avoid overweight and obesity in their children. The next major influencer could be someone such as an older sibling or babysitter. Parents could help here, as well, by providing these older siblings
or babysitters with proper nutrition plans (a menu, perhaps) and activities that could be done when the parent is not home. Children may see siblings or outside influences as a role model, and proper
education on a healthy lifestyle, even if it is small, could potentially provide them with lifelong benefits. The last major influencer we typically see in a child’s every day life is a child’s teacher. This is one of the most important influencers in a child’s life. They see a child for hours on end, every day, 5-days a week. Promoting participation in physical activity, both in and out of school, that is enjoyable for a child is a great way to help in leading them towards a healthy lifestyle (Trost
& Loprinzi, 2008).

Maintaining Changes in Health Behaviors
Okay, so I get my child to eat healthily for a day and play outside once. How do I maintain these healthy habits? Advocate for health education in schools, have consistent health education a home, and promote exercise both in and out of the home. In a study conducted by Coates, Jeffery, and Slinkard, it was found that school programs developed using specific techniques can be effective in maintaining essential behavior changes both at school and at home (1981). “Changing
children’s health habits may be a key element in promoting widespread adoption of a healthier lifestyle that could lead to reduction of cardiovascular risk behavior and disease events in the
population. (Coastes, Jeffery & Slinkard, 1981).”
If you cannot implement programs within your child’s school, one way you can get started is by implementing them within your own home. Increase your children’s consumption of complex carbohydrates and decrease their consumption of saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, and sugar. Increase the amount of physical activity you and your children are doing. Lastly, try and generalize these changes to other family members (Coastes, Jeffery & Slinkard, 1981).

Exercise and healthy eating are important for everyone, especially children. Having the proper education for both parents and their children, we can prevent having overweight and obesity in young children, as well as avoid lifelong weight issues. Providing your children with a good breakfast is a great way to start; boiled eggs, low-sugar & high-protein cereal, fruit, etc. (Segal and Robinson, 2020). Provide your children with a reward for eating their fruits and vegetables when
they are younger so that they associate healthy foods with reward and good feelings. It is important to make sure children exercise for at least 60-minutes a day. Trost and Loprinzi recommend advocating for school programs that meet the physical activity needs of youth, and to “use active learning strategies and emphasize enjoyable participation in physical education class (2008).”


Pocock, M., Trivedi, D., Wills, W., Bunn, F., & Magnusson, J. (2009, September 23). Parental perceptions regarding healthy behaviours for preventing overweight and obesity in young children: A systematic review of qualitative studies.

Coates, T. J., Jeffery, R. W., & Slinkard, L. A. (1981). Heart healthy eating and exercise: Introducing and maintaining changes in health behaviors. American Journal of Public Health, 71(1), 15-23. doi:10.2105/ajph.71.1.15

Kelley, J. (2020, July 21). The Importance of Healthy Eating in Children.

Trost, S. G., & Loprinzi, P. D. (2008). Exercise—Promoting healthy lifestyles in children and adolescents. Journal of Clinical Lipidology, 2(3), 162-168. doi:10.1016/j.jacl.2008.03.001

Eliakim, A., & Beyth, Y. (2003). Exercise training, menstrual irregularities and bone development in children and adolescents. Journal of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology, 16(4), 201-206. doi:10.1016/s1083-3188(03)00122-0

Robinson, L., & Segal, J. (2020, October). Healthy Food for Kids.

How Overtraining Affects the Body and How to Overcome It

Author: Sara Wilson

Overtraining is something that a lot of athletes face and often don’t even know it. Overtraining occurs when you exceed your body’s ability to recover from exercise. Everyone wants to be the best at what they do and today people have mentalities like “no days off” or “no pain no gain”. They think that if they keep working and never stop it will help them with their athletic goals, but they almost always end up pushing themselves too far. That is something I experienced last year running cross country at the junior college level. I tried gradually increasing my mileage and started running every other day and eventually worked up to running 6 days a week. I was in the best shape of my life and was faster than I have ever been. Once the season started, my coaches were excited about my progress over the summer and ready to get the season started. Once we started having meets, we would go weeks without a day off. Having practice all week with a meet on Saturday and then long run-on Sunday and start the process all over again on Monday. My times started to plateau and eventually gradually decreased. I also felt tired even doing things that were easy before. My coaches told me to keep running and work my way backup. Doing this led to a tibial stress fracture which put me out for the rest of the season. I learned that in order to reach your goals rest is just as important as training and when you are feeling tired and regressing it may be time to take a step down.

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Supplements That Help Build Muscle Mass

Author: Abigail Everson

For the last few decades, protein has become one of the most talked about supplements for athletes. Protein stimulates muscle protein synthesis, the building and repair of muscles and tissues. Protein is also needed for a variety of hormonal and metabolic activities (Campbell 2008). For this reason, protein bars, shakes, and other supplements have become an important part of exercising and strength training. In recent years creatine has been rising in popularity and it has been shown to improve performance and lean body mass. Although creatine is newer, both protein and creatine seem to have the similar impacts on lean muscle mass in athletes.

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The Five W’s + the How of Cupping Therapy

Author: Emma Stock

The What

Cupping is one of the many methods of traditional Chinese medicine. It has been used as a modality in hospital and other settings since 1950 [2]. It is an application of glass or plastic cups that vacuum seal onto the body in a desired area. The cupping cups are used to stimulate the muscles as a treatment for aches and pains associated with various diseases, as well as other reasons listed in the “Why” section. There are two types of cupping therapies. [1] Wet cupping is a three step process. The first step is placing the cups in the desired area for a few minutes. The second step is removing the cups and making a small incision or puncture wound on the skin. The final step is placing the cup over the wound and letting the blood drain out for another few minutes (typically around 3-5min). Dry cupping does not include the puncturing of the skin, and is solely the cups placed on the relaxed person for a few minutes.

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Effects of Different Forms of Resistance Training on Athletic Performance in Soccer

Author: Erik Sigman

In the past two decades there has been an increased discussion on the benefits and drawbacks of resistance training in regards to athletic performance in soccer. When it comes to emphasis on athletic enhancement, soccer has just recently become a sport where collegiate and professional teams have made athletic development a larger priority for players. There seems to be two camps when it comes to the debate on whether soccer players should incorporate resistance training in their training routine. Those in the first camp tend to think in a sense that resistance training won’t help a soccer player become better at “soccer skills” like dribbling, passing, shooting etc. The second camp tend to have the view point that soccer is evolving to become much more reliant on a player’s physical capabilities and resistance training may help athletic development in areas like speed, agility, and explosive power (Silva et al. 2015). Regardless of what camp one may fall into, there are some common beliefs in regards to the benefits and drawbacks of resistance training that the soccer world has adopted. Benefits include increased athletic ability in soccer specific actions like sprinting, cutting, jumping, and explosiveness (Turner and Stewart 2014). Drawbacks include player’s putting on unnecessary muscle mass, becoming “blocky” or “bulky”, and the injury risk of doing resistance training. With all that being said, let’s look at what the research says regarding resistance training and athletic performance in soccer.

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Weight Loss and Maintenance for Obese Individuals

Author: Nicole Jones

It comes as no shock that the health effects of being overweight or obese are widespread on an individual and global level. Evidence shows a heavy correlation between a high BMI and a plethora of diseases and illnesses. This can include, but isn’t limited to, ischemic heart disease, ischemic stroke, hemorrhagic stroke, hypertensive heart disease, and diabetes mellitus (NEJM, 2017). A lot of these diseases and illness are due to the strain extra weight puts on the heart. While the risk of heart disease and heart related illnesses is pretty common knowledge, there are many other disease and illness risks to being overweight. The physical extra weight can have a toll on the joints, leading to mobility issues. An increase risk in breast cancer, particularly among women, has also been a sited as a potential risk factor associated with obesity (NEJM, 2017). Not only is obesity potentially harmful for the individual, it can also be harmful for the wider population. With the associated health risks of obesity, comes an associated cost for those risks. Since obesity is a global issue, it is a burden to health care systems around the world. In 73 countries across the globe, the obesity rate has around doubled since the 1980s (NEJM, 2017). This has caused the overall cost of health care expenditures for many preventable diseases to also increase. With the many risks associated with obesity, as well as the burden it puts on the healthcare system, there are many reasons and benefits to maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle.

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Relationship Between Body Mass and Muscle Strength: Correlation or Causation?

Author: Joey Harkins

Think of the strongest person you have ever met. Not in the pound-for-pound sense, but the individual that you can think of that can physically move objects that you might have thought could not possibly budge. This could be someone you played sports against in high school, someone you work with, or even someone you’ve seen on T.V. Chances are the person you’re thinking of isn’t too small. On the contrary, they’re probably one of the biggest people you’ve seen. There most definitely appears to be a relationship between body size and strength, but the question remains: is strength simply a product of increased body mass or are there more factors at play?

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How Does Alcohol Consumption Cause Damage to the Body and Impair Athletic Performance?

Author: Sydney Yotter

It is common knowledge that heavy alcohol consumption has negative effects on the
human body and athletic performance, but how exactly does alcohol affect the body? Excessive amounts of alcohol can lead to decreased efficiency of the immune system, inhibition of reproductive properties, heart problems, damage to the digestive system, decreased brain functionality, problems with waste removal from the body, and decreased bone mineral density (Atkins 2019). While all of these complications can affect an individual’s daily life, one of the most studied consequences of alcohol consumption is lowered bone mineral density, which can lead to a degenerative disease known as osteoporosis. Osteoporosis can cause more frequent fractures, especially hip fractures, because of how thin and weak the bones can become. The bone mineral density in individuals with osteoporosis is much lower compared to the healthy bone mineral density of young adults (Chen et al. 2007). Risk for osteoporosis increases for postmenopausal women, due to the lack of the hormone estrogen in their bodies after menopause,
and with age. It makes sense that heavy alcohol consumption would have these damaging effects on our bones, but numerous studies also point towards moderate drinking as a risk factor for low bone mineral density. According to a systemic review and meta-analysis study, those who consume just 1-2 alcoholic drinks per day (14 g or 0.6 oz of pure alcohol) are 1.34 times more likely to be at risk for osteoporosis than those who consume zero alcoholic drinks per day (Cheraghi et al. 2019). Let’s take a closer look at how exactly alcohol works on the skeletal system.

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Altitude Training and How it Affects Athletic Performance

Author: Carmen Houck

As someone who grew up in Colorado, altitude has always been a hot topic of conversation. From people coming to visit and mentioning how they tire quickly to experiencing the difficulty to breathe while climbing 14ers (14,000+ foot peaks), it is a topic that came up
frequently among friends and family. As I got older and started learning more about how the body works, I started seeing the science and rationale behind all those conversations I had growing up. For most people, high altitude just means it’s harder to breathe, but why?

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Concurrent Training in Primarily Power Athletes: Proceed with Caution

Author: Jared Defriend

During my younger high school, there was nothing I loved to do more than run for exercise. I think I ran almost every day during the week with my dog, and on the weekends, I would try to go on longer runs. However, there is an important piece I am missing to this story. I
played football, and not only did I play football, but I was also a lineman. I thought I could be the best endurance athlete ever, while still be a big, strong, defensive lineman. Little did I know I was destroying my potential, as the copious amounts of running I performed inhibited my ability to make gains on the field and in the weight room. Therefore, now I know that intense endurance training and power athletes, such as football players, just do not mix. For maximum results, power
athletes should stick with strong and powerful training, leaving the endurance stuff for who it was meant for: runners.

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