Thursday, August 28, 2014

Youth Concussions

Consumers should beware of dietary supplements that claim to treat a concussion, the U.S. Food and Drug Administrations said yesterday.

"Exploiting the public's rising concern about concussions, some companies are offering untested, unproven and possibly dangerous products that claim to prevent, treat or cure concussions and other traumatic brain injuries," the agency said in a post on its website.
The beginning of the school year signals the beginning of fall sports season.  Are you worried about your young athlete receiving a concussion?

Youth concussion rates are on the rise.  Approximately 40% of emergency department visits for sports-related concussions in young athletes occurred in children aged 8-13 years, based on data from concussion-related hospital visits in the United States between 2001 and 2005.
Many parents, coaches, teachers and other adults feel that because these athletes are so young, they could not possibly get seriously hurt, but, of course, this is not the case. There are roughly half a million ER visits for concussions occurred among 8- to 19-year-olds and the number of elementary and middle school-aged athletes treated in hospital ERs (for concussions they got while playing on sports teams) has doubled in just a decade.

Why is the rate of concussions in younger children doubling?  Lisa L. Bakhos, MD, Brown University pediatric emergency medical specialist, said, “We don't really know why this is.  We know that kids are bigger now than they were in the past, which could be contributing to this trend. And, sports seem to be more competitive."
Is the answer to ban your child from sports until he/she is older and physically bigger?  In my opinion, the answer is no.  Sports are a great way to reinforce the importance of physical fitness in young kids while also teaching valuable lessons in sportsmanship, cooperation, listening skills and responsibility.  These lessons learned at a young age can help create a foundation of building blocks that kids can expand upon as they age.

Parents and coaches need to actively monitor and listen to their athletes though.  If a child is injured, ensure the child is taken out of the game and not allowed to play on the team until he/she has fully recovered.  One way to know that recovery has occurred is to ask the child.  But don’t solely take the child’s word for it.  Check with a reputable physician and have the child receive a medical physical. 
Over the past couple of years, the news has reported numerous children who have died on the field because they were playing in games after receiving concussions or playing after receiving multiple concussions within a short timeframe.  This is heartbreaking because these deaths could – and should - have been prevented by not allowing the child to participate in sports so soon. 

As adults, it is our responsibility to keep kids safe – and healthy – as they pursue their passion for sports and athletic endeavors this school year. 
Is your child ready to take his or her athletic training to the next level and train like a professional athlete?  Call Fitness for Health at 301-231-7138 to learn how we can help you become stronger, faster and more explosive. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

What's In Your Lunchbox?

Happy first week of school to most of the families in the D.C. area!

Back to school time is the perfect opportunity to speak to your children about healthy food choices.

Buying lunch at school may be the first time that kids get to call the shots on which foods they'll eat. Luckily, there’s been a nationwide effort to improve the taste and nutrition levels in school lunches.  But, some food options served at school are still exceeding recommendations for fat. In the typical school cafeteria, kids can still choose an unhealthy mix of foods, especially the less nutritious fare often available a la carte or in the vending machine.
If your child will choose an item from the lunch line, encourage him or her to make good choices by incorporating fruits and veggies and trying a variety of foods.  (Chicken nuggets may be tasty, but eating them each day won’t give your child an opportunity to try new foods that he/she may love.)

If your child will brown bag it, enlist your child’s help to make lunch!  Treat this bonding moment as a chance to instill healthy food choices in your child while having fun making creative fare.  Does your child love “Toy Story”?  Make cucumber slices that look like aliens.  Does your child like flowers?  Make a PB & J sandwich on wheat bread that is shaped like a daisy.
Your imaginations are your only limits!

Begin the school year by reminding children that food can be fun while being nutritious!

What are your children’s favorite healthy lunches?  I’d love to hear from you.
Visit to learn how Fitness for Health can help you create a fitness plan customized to assist you in reaching your personal goals.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Managing Back-to-School Stress

Only a few more days before the beginning on the new school year! I want to take this opportunity to share a past blog with you regarding back-to-school stress.  Enjoy!

The stress of a new school year can make you forget some of the benefits of being a parent. It's an adjustment time for you and your child. Keeping your child safe, healthy and happy during the school year becomes your number one priority. Here are some back-to-school tips to make the transition a little easier and a lot healthier.
Preparation is always the key to diminishing stress. Whether it is purchasing the correct tools, getting tasks done ahead of time or instilling healthy habits in your children, preparation will help you breathe easier.

Here are a few tips:

·    Visit the school.  The stress of a new school year can make you forget some of the benefits of being a parent. It's an adjustment time for you and your child. Keeping your child safe, healthy and happy during the school year becomes your number one priority. Here are some back-to-school tips to make the transition a little easier and a lot healthier.

·    Arm yourself with school supplies before the first day.  Grab an extra school supply list. Most of the time, they are at various stores. Parents can just pick them up as they enter. Hold off buying anything until after you meet the teacher. Show the list to her and ask if there is any addition or elimination, and change it accordingly.

·    Make a trial run this week.  Take a trial run on getting up early at least five days before school. This helps with solidifying the new schedule and is proven to help prevent cranky kids.

·    Have a family meeting.  If you are planning changes with anything at all, have a family meeting at least one week before school. This is the perfect time to implement a new school plan for the new year. For example, new homework rules, activities (not too many, I hope), as well as when and what to eat before school and afterwards. This is especially true if your child goes to an after school program. Although many of the schools are cutting back on the handy chip, soda and candy machines, others have new ones.

Have a happy and safe new school year!
Fitness for Health can help you and your child become ready for gym class this year by creating an individualized fitness program that addresses your child's unique concerns.  Whether your child wants to improve his athleticism or hone phys ed class skills, we can help your child reach his or her goals!  Visit to learn how we can help your child.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sunshine Improves Your Health

A study from Northwestern Medicine and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign indicates that all-day exposure to natural light, even by means of a window, leads to longer sleep duration at night, as well as increased physical activity and quality of life.

"There is increasing evidence that exposure to light, during the day, particularly in the morning, is beneficial to your health via its effects on mood, alertness and metabolism," says senior study author Phyllis Zee, M.D., a Northwestern Medicine neurologist and sleep specialist.
The study was conducted on office workers, and windows in the workplace could mean up to 173 percent more white light exposure during the day and an average of 46 minutes more sleep at night, researchers concluded.

They also noted a trend of workers with more light exposure being more physically active than their counterparts. Sunlight gives you energy. Melatonin regulates sleep, so having lower levels of this hormone in your body gives you more get up and go and more energy to exercise.
So, bask in the sun sensibly!

Studies have also shown that a sensible amount of sun reduces your risk of several cancers and other serious health conditions. And it's all thanks to vitamin D, which is made by our bodies through the action of the sun's UVB rays on our skin.
Professor Michael Holick, of Boston University School of Medicine and author of The UV Advantage states, "We get about 90 to 95 per cent of our vitamin D from the sun. It is essential for absorbing calcium, keeping our bones healthy, and for protecting against serious chronic diseases later in life such as osteoporosis, Type II diabetes, multiple sclerosis and many common cancers."

Not to mention, sunshine makes you happier! It boosts levels of serotonin - the body's natural happy hormone. That's why we tend to feel happier and more energetic when the sun shines. Regular sun can stave off moderate depression, particularly if combined with exercise, such as a walk in the park.
Celebrate the last rays of the summer sun and create a lasting fitness program.

To learn how Fitness for Health can help you improve your mind-body connection utilizing state-of-the-art fitness technology, visit or call 301-231-7138.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Overweight Preschoolers May Have Adult Health Issues

Some overweight and obese preschoolers may already have risk factors for heart disease and diabetes, a new study from Italy suggests.

The study involved more than 5,700 healthy children ages 2 - 6 who visited pediatricians in Rome between 2011 and 2012. Of these children, about 600 (about 10 percent) had become overweight or obese within the last year, and the researchers ran detailed blood tests about 200 of these children for the study.
The findings show that the metabolic abnormalities linked with obesity are present in young children, even though these children have only been overweight or obese for a short period of time. "Our results suggest that the risk for metabolic abnormalities related to obesity begins to manifest early in the natural history of weight gain," the researchers, from the Bambino Gesù Children’s Hospital in Italy, wrote in the Aug. 11 issue of the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

The study found that “nearly 40 percent of these children had at least one abnormal reading in their metabolism — such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, elevated blood sugar or low levels of "good" cholesterol — which, in studies of adults, have been linked with an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes. About one-third of the children had nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, or a buildup of fat deposits in the liver.”  Obese children with such abnormal results also had a higher body mass index (BMI) than obese children without metabolic abnormalities.
How can parents encourage their children to be physically from the time they’re babies?  In my opinion, make physical activities and games FUN for the whole family!  The key to successful participation is creativity and positive reinforcement as well as scheduling a regular time during the week as “family playtime” so children will learn to emulate their parents.  Families need to work - and play - together to enhance physical fitness while building stronger relationships.  With an integrated approach, parents, grandparents and children can create fun, recreational games that also increase self-esteem - and help families bond - while increasing kids' physical activity.

Celebrate the final days of summer and get moving!  Schedule one afternoon a week for the family to do yard work together.  (Even if your toddler just plays in the dirt with sticks.)  Studies show that you can burn about 350 calories an hour mowing the lawn or 175 calories for 30 minutes of raking the beginning of the fall leaves.  Not only will you get a great workout, your yard will look great too.
Rest.  Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have found a correlation between childhood obesity and the amount of sleep a child receives each night.  The fewer hours of nightly sleep, the higher the risk for becoming overweight or obese.

Focus on your child’s health, not his weight.  Childhood and adolescence are difficult enough for most children and self-esteem can suffer – especially if the child is heavier.  Parents can help by making sure their kids are active and learn to make good food choices. 
Play actively. It’s critical to keep your kids moving throughout the day as much as possible (and to join in on the fun when you can).  Physical activity naturally stimulates chemicals that help clear glucose out of the blood and helps to prevent diabetes.  For most kids, 60 minutes or more of physical activity is recommended daily. (For more ideas to help your kids - and entire family - stay fit, check out Tips for Getting Active by the National Heart Lung, & Blood Institute (NHLBI)).

Obesity among the young isn't a problem that's going to magically fix itself. Make a difference in your kids' lives and get moving – as a family!
Is your child or family in need of fitness assistance?  Fitness for Health can help your family create a healthy, active lifestyle while having fun.  We offer customized exercise programs designed to fit your exact needs and help you reach your unique health goals. And, we offer family workouts and Open Gym playtimes (beginning again after Labor Day) so families can become active together. Visit to learn about our programs or call us at 301-231-7138.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Depressed? Try Exercise

In light of Robin William's recent supposed suicide, I want to concentrate on a serious problem - depression.

Depression is a common and disabling illness, affecting more than 100 million people worldwide.

Can a few laps around the block actually solve your emotional problems? Probably not, but a regular exercise program might help.  A review of studies stretching back to 1981 concluded that regular exercise can improve mood in people with mild to moderate depression.  It also may play a supporting role in treating severe depression.
A study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in 1999, divided 156 men and women with depression into three groups. One group took part in an aerobic exercise program, another took the antidepressant drug, Zoloft, and a third did both. At the 16-week mark, depression had eased in all three groups. About 60%–70% of the people in all three groups could no longer be classed as having major depression. In fact, group scores on two rating scales of depression were essentially the same. This suggests that for those who need or wish to avoid drugs, exercise might be an acceptable substitute for antidepressants.

A follow-up to that study found that exercise’s effects lasted longer than those of antidepressants. Researchers checked in with 133 of the original patients six months after the first study ended. They found that the people who exercised regularly after completing the study, regardless of which treatment they were on originally, were less likely to relapse into depression.
Scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem. Even five minutes of aerobic exercise can stimulate anti-anxiety effects.

So, what are you waiting for?
To learn how Fitness for Health can help you improve your mind-body connection utilizing state-of-the-art fitness technology, visit or call 301-231-7138.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

You Need Water

Many people are taking advantage of the last days of summer by taking their workouts outdoors.

I’d like to take this opportunity to highlight the importance of hydration - when working out and even when you’re not.
Everyone has heard that the human body is comprised of roughly 60% water, but did you know that, by the time you become thirsty, you are already dehydrated?

Try as I may to drink as much water as I can throughout the day, I too am guilty – as are most people – of not drinking enough to keep my body performing at peak condition.
So, why is keeping hydrated important?

·    Water helps you perform better.  Proper hydration contributes to increased athletic performance. Water composes 75% of our muscle tissue.  Dehydration can lead to weakness, fatigue, dizziness, and electrolyte imbalance when working out.

·    You will lose weight if you stay hydrated.  If your belly feels full, you won’t be as hungry and won’t overeat.

·    You will have less joint pain.  Your joints are fluid filled and you have to drink enough water in order for them to work properly. This is especially true of the discs between your vertebrae. If you suffer from low back pain, drinking water can help. This is also true for your knees. Water is vital to your joints and keeps them moving freely. Drinking water can reduce pain in your joints by keeping the cartilage soft and hydrated. This is actually how glucosamine helps reduce joint pain, by aiding in cartilage’s absorption of water.

·    Hydration makes you happier.  Because the brain is made up of mostly water, scientists have shown that proper water consumption helps you think more clearly and helps to lighten your mood.

·    Lower your risk of heart attack.  According to the National Institutes of Health, coronary heart disease, when your arteries clog up with plaque, is the number one cause of death for both men and women in the United States. A worsening of coronary heart disease can lead to a heart attack. The best way to prevent it? Drink more water.

·    Water helps to prevent cancer.  The U.S. National Library of Science and the National Institutes of Health states that staying hydrated can reduce your risk of colon cancer by 45%, bladder cancer by 50% and possibly reduce your risk of breast cancer.

Water is the building block of life and helps with critical functions such as maintaining body temperature, cushioning and protecting vital organs and aiding in digestion.  Therefore, it is vital that you try to drink half your bodyweight in ounces of water (if you weigh 120 pounds, drink 60 ounces of water) each day.  Your body will thank you!
Fitness for Health can help you build a healthier body by creating a customized, exercise regimen that addresses your unique concerns.  Whether you want to decrease your weight, tone, build muscle, increase flexibility or improve your athleticism, we can help you reach your goals!  Visit to learn how we can help you.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Exercise Addict

As of this week, the nation's obesity rate for 2014 stands at 27.7 percent, according to new Gallup data. That's up from the 2013 rate of 27.1 percent, which was the highest annual rate ever measured by the polling organization.

We all know that less than 20 percent of Americans meet national physical activity guidelines.  But, have you considered how many Americans are addicted to exercise?
Recent research is beginning to shed some light on the notion that there may be a point at which too much exercise may have detrimental physical and psychological health effects and turn into an addiction.

How can you tell if someone or you may be addicted to exercise?  Ask these questions:

·         Do you follow up a poor run or workout by running or exercising more and resting less?

·         Have you pushed yourself through a training session despite an injury?

·         Do you value exercise more than work or family?

·         Would you prefer to work out instead of hanging out with friends?

·         Do you feel depressed, irritated or anxious if you miss a workout? 

Each of us has a unique tipping point beyond which continuing to sweat, lift, push or pull does more harm than good. People addicted to exercise continue to keep going despite injuries, mental issues, social obligations and physical exhaustion. They may even watch their careers crumble, and their family and friends drift away because exercise is their top (and sometimes only) priority.
These are signs of addiction.

If you or someone you know has an exercise addiction, speak to a counselor. As you work with a counselor, change the emphasis of your exercise from "more is better," to quality. Objective progress can be made by planning your workouts with an experienced trainer on a weekly basis, with rest and recovery given the emphasis they deserve in a well-balanced training program.
Exercise should be fun and have an element of play. If working out loses all aspects of fun, something has gone wrong. The most competitive professional athletes still love their sport, love to run because it gives pleasure, and not because it has become a compulsive need.

Fitness for Health creates fun, fitness programs based on a person's individual fitness goals.  Whether you are a young child or a child at heart, Fitness for Health can you help you achieve your fitness goals.  Visit to learn about our exercise and sports programs.