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Jim Liebelt Christian Blog and Commentary

Jim Liebelt

Jim Liebelt's Blog

*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on PsychCentral.

Using the best available evidence on the impact of physical activity on children and young people, researchers find that time taken away from lessons for physical activity is time well spent and does not come at the cost of getting good grades.

The statement on physical activity in schools and during leisure time appears online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. It was drawn up by a panel of international experts with a wide range of specialties from the UK, Scandinavia, North America and Denmark.

The document includes 21 separate statements on the four themes of fitness and health; intellectual performance; engagement, motivation and well-being; and social inclusion. The recommendations encompass structured and unstructured forms of physical activity for 6- to 18-year-olds in school and during leisure time.

Recommendations include:

• physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness are good for children’s and young people’s brain development and function as well as their intellect;
• a session of physical activity before, during, and after school boosts academic prowess;
• a single session of moderately energetic physical activity has immediate positive effects on brain function, intellect, and academic performance;
• mastery of basic movement boosts brain power and academic performance;
• time taken away from lessons in favour of physical activity does not come at the cost of getting good grades.

In terms of the physiological benefits of exercise, the Statement says that cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness “are strong predictors” of the risk of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes in later life, and that vigorous exercise in childhood helps to keep these risk factors in check.

Experts also acknowledge that frequent moderate intensity and, to a lesser extent, low intensity exercise will still help improve kids’ heart health and their metabolism. Moreover, the positive effects of exercise are not restricted to physical health, says the Statement.

Experts contend that regular physical activity can help develop important life skills, and boost self-esteem, motivation, confidence and wellbeing. And it can strengthen/foster relationships with peers, parents, and coaches.

And just as importantly, activities that take account of culture and context can promote social inclusion for those from different backgrounds, ethnicities, sexual orientation, skill levels and physical capacity.

Professor Craig Williams, director of the Children’s Health and Exercise Research Centre, Sport and Health Sciences at Exeter was one of eight international speakers invited to provide expert statements to aid Danish colleagues revise their national consensus guidelines.

“This 21-point consensus statement reflects the importance of enhanced physical activity, not just in schools but sports and recreational clubs, with the family, and even for those children with long term illness. At all levels of society, we must ensure that enhanced physical activity is put into practice,” Williams said.

Source: PsychCentral

*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on PsychCentral.

A new study finds that parents who are too involved with their college-age kids could indirectly lead to issues such as depression and anxiety.

“Helicopter parents are parents who are overly involved,” said Florida State University doctoral candidate Kayla Reed. “They mean everything with good intentions, but it often goes beyond supportive to intervening in the decisions of emerging adults.”

Reed and Assistant Professor of Family and Child Sciences Dr. Mallory Lucier-Greer explain that what has been called “helicopter parenting” can have a meaningful impact on how young adults see themselves and whether they can meet challenges or handle adverse situations.

The current study, found online in the Journal of Child and Family Studies, specifically examined emerging adults, or college-aged students navigating the waters of attending college.

Researchers surveyed more than 460 college students, ages 18 to 25, seeking to learn how their mothers influenced their life decisions. Specifically, researchers asked students how their mothers would respond to sample situations. Investigators looked at mothers because they are traditionally in the primary caregiver role.

Researchers also asked students to self-assess their abilities to persist in complicated tasks or adverse situations and then also rate their depression, life satisfaction, anxiety, and physical health.

Students who had mothers who allowed them more autonomy reported higher life satisfaction, physical health, and self-efficacy. However, students with a so-called helicopter parent were more likely to report low levels of self-efficacy, or the ability to handle some tougher life tasks and decisions.

In turn, those who reported low levels of self-efficacy also reported higher levels of anxiety and depression, and lower life satisfaction and physical health.

“The way your parents interact with you has a lot to do with how you view yourself,” Lucier-Greer said. “If parents are simply being supportive, they are saying things like ‘you can manage your finances, you can pick out your classes.’

“It changes if they are doing that all for you. I think there are good intentions behind those helicopter behaviors, but at the end of the day you need to foster your child’s development.”

Source: PsychCentral

*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on USA Today.

Family doctors should screen teens for suicide risks in the wake of new information that shows suicide is the second leading cause of death among teens, an American Academy of Pediatrics report said Monday.

In the report, the academy provides pediatricians with guidelines on how to identify and assist at-risk teens between the age of 15 to 19.

The original report was published in 2007, when suicide was the third-leading cause of death among adolescents. It has since passed homicide to become the second, with unintentional injuries, such as drug overdoses and motor vehicle accidents, claiming the most teen lives.

Ben Shain, author of the report and head of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at NorthShore University HealthSystem, says suicide rates may have increased due to the stresses and anger levels induced by electronic media and a reluctance to use antidepressant medication.

In 2004 the FDA required “black box warning” labels on antidepressants to warn health care providers of increased risks of suicidal thinking and behavior among children and adolescents being treated with such medications. Fewer antidepressants are prescribed as a result.

Studies have since shown that the benefits of antidepressants significantly outweigh the risks for most patients, and are thus a valuable treatment option, the report says.

According to Christine Moutier, chief medical officer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the nation’s largest suicide prevention network, the risk of suicide is heightened by a convergence of multiple risk factors, with the most common being depression and other mental health conditions.

Screening for these risks, she says, “is the first critically important step in preventing suicide death.”

The AAP urges pediatricians to look for risk factors linked to teen suicide, which include a history of physical or sexual abuse, mood disorders, substance abuse, and teens who may be lesbian, gay, or bisexual. Bullying is a significant risk factor added to the 2016 report.

“Though bullying is not a new phenomenon, there is much more emphasis on it in terms that it is really bad and causes suicidality,” Shain said. Those at greatest risk, he says, are those who were both victims and bullies themselves.

Cornell says bullying doesn’t necessarily lead to suicidal thoughts or actions, but can have a powerful impact when combined with other stresses.

Suicide affects teens no matter their race or gender, but sexual minority youth — such as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or questioning — have more than two times the rate of suicidal thoughts, the report says.

While girls make more suicide attempts, boys die from suicide at a rate three times that of their female counterparts. The report suggests this is a result of boys choosing deadlier methods, such as firearms.

Firearms in the home are associated with a higher risk of adolescent suicide, and the AAP urges parents of at-risk teens to remove guns and ammunition from their homes.

Shain says pediatricians don’t see patients long enough for in-depth assessments, so the screening is intended to raise red flags so the physicians can make referrals for appropriate mental health evaluations and treatments.

Source: USA Today