Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Kids Channel Avengers to Overpower Obesity

Kids Channel Avengers to Overpower Obesity
By Cristen Bolan
Americans are facing a major health crisis — obesity. More than 100 million people in the United States, or nearly a third of the entire population, are defined as obese. If this doesn't get your attention – it’s costing you, the tax payer, over $75 billion per year to treat obesity and its related complications.1 Now that’s a fact no one can afford to ignore.
The battle of the bulge is spiraling out of control despite our hero-worship and praise for the tight bodied Avengers. The popularity of The Avengers is uncontested as the movie set a new box office record with $207.4 million in ticket sales in its opening weekend. Talk about flexing some muscle! Fans flooded theaters to witness the power of Captain America, the skill of Ironman, the agility of Black Widow, and the might of Thor, not to mention the ferocious roar of the Hulk while he tears through a new pair of Levis.
    It may be fantasy, but it felt real to the actors who spent hours sweating through heavy workouts to sculpt their beautiful biceps, triceps and shoulders just to resemble a true superhero. The Avengers is a phenomenon that goes beyond fiction — and it may be just what the doctor ordered. This superhero idolatry presents an opportunity for health officials to put the spotlight on the obesity crisis where it begins — with kids. 
    The eating and exercise habits of children develop at an early age and set a strong precedent for their future health. Since parents have the strongest influence on their child’s health, the U.S Department of Health and Human Services can target parents to create awareness about obesity and above all to teach parents how to teach their children to eat right and engage in fun physical activity. These types of public service announcements have been put into practice for years for anti-smoking campaigns sponsored by The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and obesity is no less a threat to your health. By leveraging the momentum around The Avengers craze, parents can inspire kids to exercise in a “fun” way.

Get Started:  Start kids off by letting them choose their favorite superhero from The Avengers and follow the regimen below designed specifically for kids -- adults can enjoy it too.

Weight:  Teach kids about their body mass index (BMI). According to the CDC, BMI is a reliable indicator of body fatness for most children and teens.Let them do the math. 
    Calculate BMI as follows:    
·      Pounds / inches:  weight (lb) / [height (in)]2 x 703, or in
·      Kilograms / meters: weight (kg) / [height (m)]2
This will help kids set a personal goal. For more information, go to The Center for Disease Control and Prevention web site.

Healthy Diet:  Teach kids about which foods are part of a healthy diet, and eliminate all junk food and soda entirely — even on weekends.

Choose a Superhero:  Kids love role models, so let them choose one of The Avengers — Captain America, Ironman, the Black Widow, Thor, or the Hulk — as they follow this “made for kids” physical activity routine, designed for kids, provided by the journal Men’s Health,4 at least 4-days a week.

5 Workouts for Avenger Kids by Men’s Health:
1.    The Chain:  Place 4 cones 30 yards apart. The person who is "it" should tag a student and the two of them then hold hands. Together, they tag another player and the three of them are "it," or "the chain." Continue until all kids are part of the chain.
2.    Superheroes: Have the kids lie on their stomachs and pretend they are flying through the air like their favorite superheroes for 10 seconds. 
3.    Sprints: Place two cones about 10 feet apart to create the starting line. Place two cones 15 yards away for the finish line. On your mark, the kids sprint 15 yards to the finish line, circle around the cones and return to start. After the first sprint, change the starting position to make it fun. For instance, they can start on their knees, belly, back, side, pushup position, etc.
4.    Circuits:  Set boundaries with the cones 20 yards apart and have five kids stand by each cone. Yell "five jumps" and all kids do five jumps. Yell "skip" and all kids skip to the next cone, moving clockwise. Yell "eight pushups" and all kids do eight pushups. Next, yell "bear crawl" and all the kids should bear crawl to the next cone. Lets the kids rotate calling out the exercises.
5.    Screamer:  Ask the kids to get in two lines facing each other and get in pushup position, so they're head to head. Have the kids do one pushup, stand up and then jump, giving their partner a "high 10." Drop back to pushup position and do two pushups and two jumps. Repeat once more for three pushups and three jumps and then reverse the drill back to one. Feel free to vary the repetitions based on the kids' age and fitness levels.

Fun Alternatives:  As a reward for the all of their “fun” work, let them do a little Zumba: 

1.     Finkelstein EA, Fiebelkorn IC, Wang G. State-level estimates of annual medical expenditures attributable to obesityObes Res. 2004;12:18-24.
2.     Sam Omidi. Chris Evans Avengers Workout. Weight Loss and Training.
3.     Healthy Weight – It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle. Updated September 13, 2011.
4.     Jim Liston CSCS. The MH Workout for Kids. Men's Health. September 12, 2006.

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