The other day one of the most insighful and personable youth trainers I know, Eric Cressey, sent me this article. Eric has always been one of my "go to" people in youth sports and I always find his perspective refreshing and right on the mark! One of the themes Eric and I e-talk a lot about is how to keep kids healthy in a sports world out of control. With the pressure always so intense and the culture driven towards over-specialization, it has been no surprise to us that many kids just run the other way and steer clear of all sports.
But, for girls, the price of lack of fitness in childhood is just too high. Over the past years, studies have shown that staying fit starting young helps ward off osteoporosis when a woman is older. Studies have also shown that keeping fit and staying a healthy weight is paramount to having a healthy heart and a normal blood pressure - that's why the concern for childhood obesity is so high. Now, we have the news that stay fit while young may be protective for breast cancer when older.
The study discussed by the Associated Press speculates that 12 is the magic number to start encouraging exercise more in girls. This isn't a huge surprise, or shouldn't be, since 12 is when puberty really kicks in and those hormones start to peak. The study speculates that exercise helps keep the estrogen amount in check - and it is estrogen that seems to have a role in the development of breast cancer. The other important issue with regular exercise is in keeping weight in a normal range. Excess weight leads to excess fat which is also an important risk factor for the development of breast cancer.
How much exercise? According to the AP, "(t)he women at lowest risk reported doing 3 hours and 15 minutes of running or other vigorous activity a week — or, for the less athletic, 13 hours a week of walking. Typically, the teens reported more strenuous exercise while during adulthood, walking was most common."
So, parents, get your tweens and teens moving! Take advantage of the late sunsets and get everyone outside doing something together each and every day - even a brisk walk. You'll get short term family bonding benefits and lay the ground work for keeping your daughters healthy for the future!