Health versus Wellness

The terms health and wellness tend to be used interchangeably.  While these two are very connected, they are not exactly synonymous terms.  To be clear:

Health(n)- the state of being free from illness or injury; a person’s mental or physical condition.

Wellness(n)- the state of being in good health, especially as an actively pursued goal.

So, in order to have one you need to have the other.  Someone can be free from a physical illness or injury and thus be healthy, but not in a state of wellness because their emotional or mental health may not be at 100%.  In order to be completely healthy ones physical, emotional, and mental health must be free from illness/injury, and once that is achieved one will be in a state of wellness.

If you are looking for ways to improve any aspect of your health in order to be in a state of wellness, Smarter Athlete Fitness and Nutrition can help you.  The coaches are dedicated to you and helping you achieve your goals.  The active pursuit of your health can sometimes be a hard and lonely road, but with Smarter Athlete you don’t have to go it alone.  Email me at paigedavis.wellness@gmail.com to get more information and get started with Smarter Athlete Fitness and Nutrition to take the first steps toward a healthier you. 15894683_1776846229307750_3069929597083203043_n

So, we are still quarantining, now what?

(Still)Bored in the house, and (still) in the house bored?  4 months have gone by since the stay-at-home orders had been put in place and we are still at home.  Yes, I know some places are entering various phases of their ‘back-to-normal’ plans, but things are still anything but normal.  What many were thinking and hoping would have been at the most 1-1.5 months of quarantine has quickly turned into an entire summer.  A couple months back I posted about some ways to handle this new way of living and the stresses that come with it. (Click here for a refresher). The advice there still holds true now that we are 4 months (and counting) into quarantine living.  Overall the advice given there, if you don’t want to go read it, was be kind to yourself and choose vegetables, fruits, and whole foods before you reach for the processed options available to you.  Moving away from the nutritional side of wellness and toward the physical/fitness side this post will give you some options to help create some semblance of structure during these very unsure times.  So, without any further introduction here is my list of advice:

  1. Create a schedule for yourself- This doesn’t have to be the same thing every day, but during the ‘work week’ you should create some type of schedule that would reflect what it would look like for you if you weren’t WFH. Wake up at the same time every day, create a ‘morning commute’ whether that is having breakfast or having a cup of coffee while reading a book/magazine/the news/etc., clock-in for the work day, take a lunch break away from your work area, take walks around your home 5 minutes every hour, and have a hard quitting time where all work related things get put away for the day.
  2. Set aside at least 30 minutes of some type of movement- This can be a walk/jog around your neighborhood, YouTube a yoga session, break out the dumbbells/kettlebells, stretching, body-weight circuits, etc. Just do something that gets the blood flowing through the body and gets you up from your desk/workstation.
  3. Pick up a new hobby or start reading- Do something that stimulates your mind beyond your work; that isn’t finding a new show to watch on Netflix or Hulu.  You can even get into a new podcast.
  4. Check up on your friends and family- Group FaceTime, texts, zooms, whatever it is just make sure the people you care about are doing alright. If you are stressed out by all of this or feel off, there is a very good chance you aren’t the only one.
  5. Get dressed- I noticed personally when I stopped laying around in what I wore to bed the night before I felt a little better. Even if I did change from one oversized t-shirt & sweatpants combo to another one, it made me feel like I had started a new day.  You can also take this further and place a to-go order from your favorite local restaurant (#SupportLocalBusinesses) and put on something other than sweatpants, maybe even do your hair/makeup, and go have a socially distanced picnic.

Pretty much what I am saying is, eat well, move your body, and do something for your mind.  We are creatures of habit and love structure, but we also don’t like feeling like we are in a rut or living the same day over and over again.  So, do something that makes each day a little different from the rest and don’t forget to still treat yourself once in a while.  Nutritional, physical and mental self-care are very important to your overall wellness.

[Thought this was funny and fitting for the post]Cover-photo-for-tweets

Let’s Talk About Alcohol

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I am going to assume that the title of this post is about to draw a good bit of people in, because who doesn’t love a good adult beverage??  I definitely enjoy a glass (or 3..) of wine, a nice cold beer, and a perfectly mixed cocktail; and there are times when enjoying these in moderation may not always occur(cue hangover).  The purpose of this post is to talk about alcohol and your goals.

To keep this as simple as possible I am going to talk about 3 possible goals someone may have. Goal #1 fat/weight loss, Goals #2 muscle building, Goal #3 top athletic/sport performance.  Now you may be reading these goals and be saying to yourself that these goals don’t apply to you.  Maybe these 3 aren’t your number one goal, but one of these 3 are very likely closely related to your main goal, which in most cases may be improved health and better relationship with food.  Whether these 3 goals directly or indirectly apply to you, please continue to read because you might just learn something or may know someone who would benefit from reading this.  So please stick with me.

Goal #1: Fat/weight Loss-

If your goal is to lose some fat and lower your weight alcohol can be a speed bump in this process.  All of those beverages advertised as “low carb” or “low calorie”, while on the nutrition label may show that there are less carbs than the comparable drink, the ABV content is not being considered.  Macronutrients are the foods we take in that supply a caloric value to our diets; and believe it or not alcohol is our 4th macronutrient.  Just so happens that alcohol supplies calories to our diets without supplying any nutrients, so the ultimate empty calorie item.  There are 7 calories/gram of alcohol consumed.  This does not mean carbs in the drink, but solely how much alcohol is in the beverage (enter ABV).  This means that when you are monitoring your calories while trying to lose weight and are accounting for the nutrition label calories you might be underestimating how many calories you are taking in per beverage.  Another pesky detail is that your body will place metabolizing alcohol in your system first and the food consumed during this time may not be metabolized fully and thus end up being stored as fat when there is excess.

Goal #2: Gain/build Muscle-

Two main issues when it comes to alcohol and muscle building is: 1. Alcohol dehydrates you and this directly impacts your muscles, 2. Alcohol messes with protein synthesis and thus inhibits muscle growth.  When something is dehydrated it shrinks, so when you consume alcohol and are dehydrated your muscles become less stretchy and a bit ‘dried out’.  This can lead to higher susceptibility to injury of muscles, which would then lead to the dreaded rest/rehab period.  Protein synthesis is a process in your body that involves the breakdown and rebuilding of muscle in your body.  If this process is impacted your body will not create new protein and thus not be able to build larger, stronger muscles.

Goal #3: Top Athletic/sport performance-

Like I said before alcohol dehydrates you and I am sure you have all heard that athletics and dehydration are not a good combo.  Dehydration like I said above can lead to possible injury, it also impacts the nervous system, and studies have shown marked performance decreases in individuals participating in their sport compared to their hydrated counterpart.  Beyond dehydration (I hate to break it to you) alcohol stays in your system longer than you think.  Unfortunately for females, we have a smaller amount of the alcohol metabolizing enzyme compared to men, so we don’t metabolize alcohol as quickly.  This means we will feel the effects of alcohol longer than a male of the same height and weight as ourselves.  Head on over to this link from the NCAA to read some other impacts of alcohol on performance.  And yes, it is true, and not just the NCAA scare tactic to keep college kids from partying all the time.  In addition to all of the above said effects of alcohol on fat loss, metabolism, and protein synthesis, alcohol will also impact hormones, sleep, and decision making.  All of these things can impact sports/athletic performance.

Now don’t take this as me telling you to cut out alcohol, because I am surely not going to stop drinking my wine and mules after saying this. I am simply sharing some knowledge I have so that you all can make more informed and conscious decisions the next time you head to happy hour with some friends or open that bottle of wine or beer as you sit down to dinner.  Planning ahead, moderation, and consideration of where you are at in regard to your goals are all important when it comes to any decision you make with your health.

Your Health

This post is similar to my post from last week about comparison.  The focus of this one will be on physical health.  Last week was a broad discussion on comparing yourself to others, but this post is going to talk more about social media, eating, and overall health.

Today, anyone that has an Instagram and has some muscle tone thinks they are a health guru.  They will caption their overly edited, overly thought out, incredibly posed photos with things like “eat this and workout like this to get abs like me” or “Follow this plan for guaranteed 6-pack abs, and rapid weight-loss”.  These ‘influencers’ and captions are detrimental.  People with zero qualifications (outside of them having a “picture perfect body”) to be giving out nutritional and fitness advice in the matter-of-fact terms in which they do.  The constant pushing of the message at the core of it all of ‘do all of these things so you are like me and not like you’ is a major issue when it comes to self-love and self-esteem.  Everyone has a smart phone, which makes access to these kinds of messages incredibly easy, especially for teens.  The main demographic that uses various forms of social media are teens, whom are already constantly thinking about fitting in and being liked, and now are followed (pardon the pun) by the never ending need to appear a certain way.  In terms of body image, this is where unhealthy relationships with food and even exercise begin to develop.  When your health becomes something you are concerned with so that you can look a certain way, in order to fit in, it no longer becomes your health.

Like I said last week, living to be someone you are not is not how you win at the game called life.  You are merely existing when you are striving to be someone other than who you are.  You should exercise because you like how you feel after you finish and because you want to, not because “Samantha got 1000 likes on her picture at the beach and has abs and I want to be like her”.  Be fit for the life you want to live, eat foods you enjoy and that support a healthy life, and stop worrying about the likes and follows and comments you get on your social media accounts.  With that, I will leave you with this quote I saw the other day.  If my words don’t register with you and you take only one thing away from this post, let it be the image below.  We are all amazingly different people and should strive to be the best version of our self that we can be.  Originals are so much better than remakes or sequels, so live life as yourself and not as the attempt to be someone else.

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Listening to Your Body

Listen To Your Body | Harmony Yoga Redondo Hermosa Manhattan Beach ...

Your body has a lot to say and is in constant communication with you.  Whether or not you are listening is the issue.  From waking up in the morning feeling tired to craving certain foods to feeling sore; your body is trying to tell you what it needs in order to be at its best.  I am going to try to cover these various messages your body is giving you in as succinct a way as possible, because each message could be a blog post in itself.

Let’s start with cravings.  Cravings can indicate anything from you aren’t taking in enough calories to support your expenditure, to some type of memory has been triggered that is making you want a certain food, to your hormones being at work, just to name a few reasons.  To avoid turning this into a psychology and physiology paper as I explain the interplay of memory and hormones on food cravings, I will just be talking about taking in calories to meet expenditure.  When you are undereating your body wants to get in energy as fast as possible in order to refuel.  This is why we tend to reach for the bag of chips or the cookies because our bodies have learned we can get a lot of calories in very quickly and often it is pretty tasty.  Learning to take in the proper number of calories to support your daily life is very important.  Your goals determine how you should be eating; when looking to lose weight and get leaner you will need to take in calories at a deficit, when you are looking to put on mass and get bigger you will need to take in calories at a surplus, and when just looking to stay where you are and support your daily life you should be eating at a balance.  This equation doesn’t look the same for everyone though, it isn’t as simple as just eat less than what you expend to lose weight and eat more than you expend to gain weight.  Each person is different and will respond to diets in a different way.

Waking up in the morning feeling tired can indicate that your quality of sleep during the night wasn’t that great or that you are not getting enough sleep.  Getting enough sleep is an easier correction to make than trying to figure out how to improve sleep quality.  Having a daily schedule and bed-time routine helps make getting the proper number of hours of sleep a little easier.  If you know you are going to wake up at say 6am every day, and that you want to get 8 hours of sleep then you should be in bed and asleep by 10pm every night. In order to make that happen you should develop a bed-time routine that allows you to be in bed and asleep at 10pm.  This can look something like finishing dinner by 8:30pm every night, turning off the television and putting away other screens (phones, tablets, laptops, etc.) by 9pm, having a book to read before you go to sleep, and maybe you have a white noise machine to help you fall asleep as well.  We as humans like structure, and by creating a routine for falling asleep it will help signal to your body over time that once ‘x,y,z’ happen you should be asleep.  Now waking up feeling tired due to poor sleep quality can be signs of not eating enough as well, having high levels of stress which causes your body to release cortisol outside the natural circadian rhythm, or you could have some illness present causing you to not get in a good sleep.  Depending on what the reason is for sleep quality determines what step you need to take next to improve the quality of sleep. (That is post for another time though)

Now to address being sore.  It is good to be sore because it means you have challenged your muscles enough be in a state of re-synthesis.  You worked out hard and now your muscles are repairing themselves.  It is not good to be so sore you can’t move every single day of the week.  Being in a constant state of muscle repair means that you never give your muscles a chance to fully recover and this can lend itself to injury.  Click here to read a previous post of mine on the benefits of resting and taking a day off from your training.

So, if you are reading this sentence, I am going to assume you clicked that link and read (or re-read s/o my loyal following) my previous blog post.  Taking a day off from anything is important to both physical and mental health.  You need to step back from whatever it is you do during the week in order to come back to it refreshed and excited to work at it again.  My fitness fanatics are probably thinking in their heads right now, but what about an active recovery day?  Yes, those are good but what are you calling active recovery?  For me an active recovery day is a leisurely walk or a casual bike ride.  It isn’t me jumping into the pool and swimming laps (no matter how slow I am going, swimming is actually a very interesting exercise modality when it comes to energy expenditure), or going for a long run, or going to the gym and doing accessory lifts.  Active recovery should be incredibly low impact compared to your weekly training.  There is nothing wrong with moving on an off day, but this movement shouldn’t be intense or high impact.  Off days are intended to be for taking your foot off the gas and giving your body the chance to recover and refresh.

This turned out to be longer than I intended, but the thoughts just kept flowing.  The sad part is I could have written even more, the science behind all of this are textbook chapters in exercise physiology.  What I want to be the takeaway here is listen to your body, it knows what it is saying and wants to support you as best as it can.  Taking a day off is fine, taking multiple days off is fine, you need to listen to what your body needs when it comes to rest.  Eat well and eat to support your goals, you get one chance and one body when it comes to living life, so live life well and treat your body right.

To Lift or Not to Lift?

The answer to that question is yes.  There are many benefits that come from resistance training.  The type of training you do depends on what you are looking to get out of the workout regimen you are doing.  Are you looking to improve your mile time or are you looking to put on muscle mass and see some muscular definition?

Endurance type athlete:

Lifting weights is still something that should be done.  The type of resistance training you do here should be muscular endurance training.  By strengthening your muscles so that you are able to perform multiple reps with little rest allows for lowered fatigability of your muscles.  Increasing time to fatigue will make running easier because your muscles will be able to perform at a desired intensity for a longer period of time.  It is also another way to add stress to your muscles and thus your bones without putting your joints through the same ranges of motions that you go through when running.  This can help alleviate some stress added to joints and allow for proper rest at these joints.

Looking to build muscle:

Yes, this is the perfect scenario to follow a resistance training program.  Depending on your training age and history with lifting weights, along with your goal will determine what training program you should follow.  If you are a novice resistance trained individual than you will see results quickly upon following just about any training program.  This is due to neurological adaptations that are occurring.  The more advanced you are in resistance training the more thought out the program you follow needs to be.  There needs to be progressive overload, programmed weight percentages of maximum and the proper rep scheme to allow you to reach your goal.

Outside of helping you reach your desired sport performance goals; resistance training can help you improve quality of life as you age.  Sarcopenia is a typical ‘side effect’ of aging, and results in muscle loss.  By performing resistance training exercises throughout the lifetime, you will slow the muscle loss due to aging.  Another ‘side effect’ of aging is decreased bone mineral density.  Once again resistance training to the rescue. Muscles originate and attach along various bones throughout the body.  By training muscles and putting stress on muscles through resistance training you are putting stress on your bones.  The added stress to bones, when done properly and with a knowledgeable strength coach/trainer, will make bones stronger and thus maintain a healthy bone mineral density.  Another benefit of resistance training is the metabolic cost associated with it.  When looking to lose weight, in particular burn fat, running is typically the first thought.  This thought is true, running allows for fat to be ‘burned’ during the run itself, but once the run is over that ‘fat burn session’ ends as well.  Resistance training on the other hand allows for ‘fat burn’ to occur well after the resistance training session has ended.  When lifting weights, you are breaking down muscle tissue in order to build it back up into a larger and/or stronger tissue.  This process is protein re-synthesis and can last up to 48 hours post resistance training bout (enter DOMS).  The re-synthesis is intensity dependent.  While your body is resynthesizing, it requires energy and thus has a metabolic cost, which in turn allows for ‘fat burn’ and consequently weight loss.

Basically, no matter what you want to do or what life-stage you are in, lifting weights is probably a good idea.  Improve your runs= lift some weights.  Grow muscles = lift weights.  Slow some down side effects of aging= lift weights.  Lose some weight/fat= lift weights.  When done properly and following a well-designed program, lifting weights is always a good choice.  Another thing to consider when lifting weights and seeing desired results is proper fueling, but that is a story for another time.  So get out there and pick up some heavy(-ish) stuff : )

What COVID-19 Has Taught Me Expanded Edition

Some of you may have seen my short post from about a month ago about COVID-19 and things it taught me. When I posted that social distancing and school closures had just occurred, so it was pretty early on in this crazy “new normal”.  Now fast forward from that post to today, almost an entire month has passed, and I still stand by the things I said in that post, but I now have a little more to say.  I will repost below what I said in my previous post as a refresher for y’all and for those that didn’t see my post to get a chance to see what I had to say.

  1. I don’t appreciate the beautiful place I live nearly enough. Charleston is an amazing place to live and has some pretty great options to be outside and I don’t take advantage of that nearly enough.
  2. Supporting local businesses is so important. I love my coffee shops and local restaurants but didn’t even think how something like this would affect their livelihood.
  3. While I joke that I live most of my life like I’m in quarantine I’ve realized that a lot of the things I enjoy doing involves me being around other people. (going to the gym, sitting by my pool, sitting at a coffee shop, laying at the beach, etc)
  4. People can be selfish, and the internet/social media can be a toxic place, but I’ve seen a lot of people offering to help others in various ways which is an awesome thing to see. Overall things are getting pretty crazy, but it is nice to see people are trying to help one another through this, showing that there is still good out there.
  5. Now that we are quickly approaching a month of living our lives in isolation and quarantine, with an end not in sight I have begun to think about how I intend to live once life goes back to normal. This thought actually stems from a conversation some of my friends and I had after a very thought-provoking question was posed.  Individually we all had little things we brought up about how life was going and what we have been doing and are looking forward to when life returns to normal, but there was common theme we all seemed to share.  We all said we want to be present in the moment when we are with friends and enjoy the little things more now that we have seen what life looks like without them.  Just going out to dinner or sitting at the beach or in a coffee shop are things we missed being able to do and never realized how much we took for granted the ability to do that.
  6. Personally, I am going to work on making plans with friends more often and not saying no to going out and being with people as often as I did before COVID hit. I am doing my best to stay sane through exercise, getting some fresh air, and being in virtual contact with friends and family and these are things I want to carry over into my life when the quarantine lifts.
  7. I also found this has been a great time to do some personal reflection and figure out life (as best as I can because do you really ever truly get it all perfectly figured out). I’ve been doing some future planning, lots of reading, and some life hacking (basically trying to implement concepts from books I have been reading to live out my best life/self).

Yes, living life in quarantine has been and is still pretty wild/strange/annoying, but there have been some positive take-aways, and I am sure more to come being the end doesn’t seem to be insight.  I would just love to see a continued sense of community and willingness to lend a helping hand once life goes back to normal and people become “too busy” with their own lives to concern themselves with everyone else’s.  Stay safe everyone!

Self-Experimentation #1

Hello friends.  Today I am sharing with you all my plant-based diet experience.  For starters, I did this to give myself some experience with this diet prior to conducting a possible study that asks participants to partake in a plant-based diet intervention for a 4-week time period.  I am an advocate of being your first client, especially when you are going to be asking someone to make a change to their lifestyle, you should be able to relate and pull from your own personal experience when looking to help someone else.  I also did this from a place of interest.  There has been increasing talk and ‘popularity’ when it comes to a plant-based diet, so being the nerd I am I wanted to see how I would respond to this dietary change.

So, for 2-weeks I went plant-based.  My shopping cart at the grocery store didn’t look all that different from my normal omnivore diet shopping cart.  The veggies, fruits, beans, and grains remained the same, the only difference was there were no eggs, cheeses, yogurts, or chicken to be found.  I also decided that I would be eating ad libitum (without restrictions).  This means I ate when I was hungry and did not track macronutrients or calories.  I felt this would reflect how many people who change from an omnivore diet to a plant-based diet make the change.  I did not purchase any plant-based protein powders because 1. I wasn’t tracking macronutrient intake, so hitting a protein goal wasn’t on my list, 2. This dietary change wasn’t one I planned on doing for more than 2-weeks due to things going on in my life, and 3. I prefer to get most of my food requirements from actual foods and I didn’t want to get a protein powder because I don’t want to use whatever I didn’t finish after I switched back from this plant-based diet.

I really didn’t feel any different in daily life or at the gym compared to when I was eating my omnivore diet.  I did actually feel a little more run down and would wake up some days feeling sick.  I also was feeling more sore than usual.  Some things that could account for how I felt beyond diet was the amount of stress I was feeling from school and work, poor sleep, and possibly not enough caloric intake compared to what was being burned throughout my day.  I will say that the day after I ended my 2-week experiment I woke up feeling like garbage, super congested and was waking up every hour that night to blow my nose because I couldn’t breathe.

I’m about 1 week back on my normal omnivore diet with macronutrient tracking and I am feeling much better than last week and like my muscles are recovering much better post exercise.  I am not sharing this to persuade people to eat a certain way, just merely sharing my personal experience.  Like I have said many times before diets aren’t one-size fits all, and what works better for me won’t necessarily work best for you or someone else.   This was not the most scientific experiment as I could have controlled for chance much better, but it was overall an interesting experiment.  I don’t think I will be removing animal-based foods from my diet anytime soon, especially with my current exercise goals, but I am glad I did this and stay tuned for my next nutritional self-experiment.

Mental Health Awareness Month

Hello all!

In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month here is my post on looking out for your mental health.  Like I always say, wellness is more than just working out and eating ‘healthy food’, it is about your mental health as well.  I wrote a previous post about mental health, and some of the things I like to do to help keep me sane.  So I will hyperlink that here for you all to check out again.  But I will also list some things you can do for yourself and for those you care about as well below.

So here we go:

  1. Exercise!  One article (summary hyperlink here) from the Journal of Sports Medicine talks about the effects exercise can have on mood and self-esteem.  Studies have shown that there is a boost to both mood and self-esteem in an acute dosage after exercise.  There needs to be more research on the effects of exercise, but you can’t go wrong by getting a good workout in.  It is beneficial to physical and mental health.
  2. Get outside.  Taking sometime during the day to step away from work or school or whatever it is stressing you out to just be by yourself and be outside in nature can help give you a chance to hit that reset button and unwind.  It is also a perfect chance to mix in some exercise! Maybe a take a walk and just take some time to be with your thoughts.  Leave your phone behind and really take the time to disconnect from everything going on around you to check-in with yourself.
  3. I have found journaling helps me.  Sometimes you don’t want to talk to people about stuff stressing you out or things (good or bad) happening in your life, so the journal can be your friend that doesn’t have an opinion.  The best listener in the game, never offers advice or passes judgement.  Just takes everything in with an open mind!
  4. But there are things you need to talk to people about, so talk to a friend or family or someone.  Sometimes you need someone to give advice and voice an opinion, so don’t just journal away your issues and think they are resolved.
  5. Check on your friends! Don’t be the person that is always sharing your issues and concerns and stories, and never offering to listen yourself.  You aren’t the only one with stuff to say.  Some people don’t like to come out and say they are struggling or have something going on in their life that is bothering them, so you need to truly check-in with the people you care about.
  6. Personally I feel coffee and chocolate are the answer to all my problems so you can never go wrong with indulging in those two things if you ask me. (this is low-key a joke, but also kinda serious, but maybe don’t take this advice as seriously as the other 5)

Remember life is hard sometimes, but if you have good people to help you take on life and a good sense of when you need to hit that reset button everything will be okay.  Happy Wednesday my peeps!

Get Moving

Newton’s First Law of Motion says “Every object persists in its state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line unless it is compelled to change that state by forces impressed on it”.  Often this is heard stated as “An object at rest tends to stay at rest, and an object in motion tends to stay in motion”. While this is typically applied to physics and all that math and science associated with physics, this can be applied to exercise. 

It is so easy to turn your one day off from the gym into two or three and the next thing you know you haven’t been to the gym in a month.  Once you stop moving it becomes easy to continue not moving. This inactivity has become a public health issue, and now it is unfortunately affecting the youth population.  The rise in obesity levels in children is at an all time high and this is in part due to the increased amount of inactivity of kids. I could probably write for days about the many moving parts that play a role in the rising childhood obesity levels, but for the sake of this post I will just briefly touch on early introduction to activity and motor skills.  There has been some emerging research on the correlation between motor skill competence and physical activity later in life.  Motor skills are any tasks that are performed that require some form of practice in order to become “good” at the tasks.  These tasks range from simply walking to engaging at a high level in sports. The studies have found that the more skilled children were at a particular skill or activity or more skilled they felt they were, the more likely they were to engage in activities and the more likely they were to continue being active throughout life and into adulthood.  [Please follow the hyperlink above if you are interested in this and want to read a little more about this research.]  

That being said, it is important for lifelong health to get kids to put down the video games and get outside and play.  It doesn’t matter if they join a sports team or if they are simply making up games with friends, so long as they are doing something that requires them to coordinate their limbs and raise their heart rate.  So get yourself into motion early and stay in motion, because it so much easier to maintain motion than it is to restart motion.