Information from Dr John J. Ratey as presented at a Wellness Conference that supports my assertion that inclusion of “active lifestyle” among the indicators of Public Health is necessary and appropriate.
- early man walked and ran 10 – 14 miles a day
- today, adults average 9 ½ hours a day of “screen time”
- 1 of 5 children entering Kindergarten are obese – partly due to the amount of screen time and the “fear of the outdoors”
- Fitness and School Success:
- Texas Study of 2.6 million students
- An increase in fitness led to an increase in test scores, an increase in attendance, an increase in grades and a decrease in behavior issues
- Charleston Progressive Academy:
- An 83% drop in discipline problems when the school implemented daily exercise.
- Stanislaus County, when it responded to the Governor’s Challenge (Physical Fitness – 30-60 minutes of physical activity a day)
- 3-8% increase in Standardized Test Scores
- Kansas City Missouri – PE For Life Program (Daily PE)
- 63% drop in disciplinary referrals
- Naperville District 203 – New PE Program
- 3% obesity rate, and the Nation’s top scores in Science
- Mt Sinai Medical School study on Recess with 13,000 students:
- 30 minutes of recess per day led to higher teacher ratings of students
- The most effective recess had the least equipment/ structures
- The part of the brain that is “activated” while we are moving is related to the “executive function” part of the brain.
- The executive function part of the brain is the pre-frontal area responsible for thinking, memory, etc.
- Puzzles and exercise increases cognitive and mental health in “older age”
- Obese 70 year olds
- 8% less brain volume
- Overweight 70 year olds
- 4% less brain volume
- Their brains “looked” 8 years older than the brains of “normal” weight people
- Exercise in 30 year olds can reduce cognitive decline by 10-15 years.
- “Sedentaryism” – a sedentary lifestyle can be linked to all of the top ten “killers” and includes increased risk of substance abuse
- Diabetes Type 2, once rare, is now seen in children
- Brain Derived Neurotropic Factor (BDNF) made in every brain cell.
- Experiments on mice showed that mice that ran produced 4x as much BDNF, had bigger brains, and more brain cells!
- The running mice were also 20-30% “smarter”
- Given the opportunity, mice “ran” 4 km per night, while rats ran on a treadmill for 8- 20 km per day.
- When you withhold play, performance on tests declines, aggression increases, and brains are smaller
- Children in almost every species play!
- The age of “Maximum Play” in human children: Ages 3-7 years.
- Perhaps not so coincidentally, this is the age of rapid brain development as well!
- Play is the precursor to exercise. Developing the habit of play can lead to habits of active lifestyles and improved health.
This is meaningful to me because I have seen first hand how unhealthy our society has become. Not only our young children, but our early education teachers as well have increasing incidences of obesity, sedentary lifestyles, and addiction to passive media. Even my beloved professional association, NAEYC, is in the process of revising its position paper on young children and technology to include infants and toddlers. Research supports the correlation between physical activity and a plethora of positive outcomes from school readiness to health to economic savings.
Data from the report, “Promoting physical activity and active living in urban environments” the World Health Organization Europe, The role of local governments, by Peggy Edwards and Agis Tsouros, 2006 by the World Health Organization.
American type troubles:
- Active lifestyles in Europe as it relates to public health:
- 2/3 of those “15 years (of age) and older in the European Union are not physically active at recommended levels.”
- Perhaps more than 14 million children in the European Union are overweight, with 3 million being obese, increasing at the rate of nearly 3% per year, due in part to declining participation in physical activity.
- Across Europe, only about one third of the school children surveyed appeared to meet recognized physical activity guidelines.”
- Physical inactivity results in “an estimated 600,000 deaths per year in the European Region… a loss of 5.3 million years of healthy life expectancy per year…”
- Low-income communities have fewer healthy, affordable “retail” food choices.
Better habits exist:
- In Copenhagen, bicyclists combine to travel more than 1 million kilometers a day along designated “cycle tracks” and bike lanes.
- Salzberg invests more than 1 million Euros per year to support bicycling.
- The Netherlands and Germany employ a raised “street” (called a “woonerf” in Dutch) for bicycle and pedestrian traffic.
- A Study of eight European cities in different countries identified a positive correlation between greenery and physical activity.
- In Kadikoy, Turkey, exercise equipment and walkways are built at public parks to encourage exercise.
- Enacting a fee (congestion charge) in London increased cycle travel by 20%.
- A project called “Closing the Gap” in the city of Stoke-on-Trent, promotes physical activity among socially excluded youth.
- “The Metropolitan Municipality of Bursa, Turkey, provides organized sports activities for differently-abled people as well as municipal employees.
- In Sandes, Norway, the Municipal Council includes the interests of children in local planning, creating over 1,200 play areas.
- In Rome, Italy, the City Council worked with school, government and public safety officials to implement a “walking school bus” in which 1,300 children participated in 2005/2006.
- The city of Brno, Czech Republic, “provides financial support to a summer camp for obese children.
- Collaboration between city departments and civic groups in Stirling, Scotland provides activities for children including swimming, soccer, basketball and dance.
Part 4: Keep doing what I do. I will continue to fight the powers that be that for whatever reason believe that implementing failed policy with greater vigor will somehow lead to better outcomes.