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Are your children physically active?

Published:Wednesday | May 9, 2012 | 12:00 AM

By Dr Kenneth Gardner

Not so long ago, there was no need to ask this question, however many children are experiencing health issues such as obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Some children do not get the minimum amount of physical exercise, 90 minutes per week, which is recommended by the World Health Organisation.

Obesity and diabetes have a strong positive affinity for hypertension, and hypertension and diabetes are two of the major causes of kidney failure. Thus, if more children pursue a sedentary lifestyle, lifestyle health issues such as juvenile diabetes could soon be joined by juvenile kidney failure and cardiovascular disease as major childhood diseases. Obesity, hypertension, Type 2 diabetes and kidney disease are lifestyle diseases. They can be prevented by changing or improving one's lifestyle.

Increase blood flow

Exercise increases blood flow, oxygen and nutrients to the kidneys and keep them healthy by filtering and speeding up the elimination of toxins from the body. Aerobic exercises are the best type of exercises to help prevent obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and ultimately, kidney disease.

Physical exercise improves our blood by improving its oxygen content, cholesterol and blood- sugar levels etc all in keeping with the prevention of lifestyle diseases that threaten our children's health.

Walking, running, cycling, jogging, swimming, ball sports and racquet sports, if performed regularly, can help to prevent lifestyle diseases.

Weight management can be achieved quite efficiently via regular exercise, thus eliminating the building blocks for high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes etc. Exercise can reduce obesity which is one of the major contributors to high blood cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Exercise stimulates increased insulin production and insulin sensitivity that help prevent Type 2 diabetes which is associated with many of the current cardiovascular diseases in younger persons. Most persons who are prone to kidney diseases suffer from diabetes. Their excess blood sugar results in extreme stress on the kidneys. The kidneys become disabled so they cannot eliminate the waste products from the blood stream.

Cancer and exercise

Children are not immune to developing cancer and physical activity has become one of the regular components of the treatment modality for cancer. Exercise increases the body temperature and cancer cells are more easily disabled in such an environment because the heat tolerance of cancer cells is much lower than the normal cells especially in the formative stages of their development.

Exercise increases the production of hormones that stimulate and speed up immune-system cells such as interferon and white blood cells that increase the body's ability to eliminate cancer cells.

Exercise can cause sweating, which eliminates waste that could disrupt health.

Many children may not drink as much water as they should and physical activity is one of the main events that stimulates the urge for increased water consumption which makes it easier for the body to filter toxins and eliminate them.

Dr Kenneth Gardner is an exercise physiologist at Holiday Hills Research Center; email: yourhealth@gleanerjm.com.