Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Youth flag football may not be safer than tackle football


Study finds Injury is more likely to occur in youth flag football than in youth tackle football, but severe injuries and concussions were not significantly different between leagues
UNIVERSITY OF IOWA HEALTH CARE
University of Iowa Health Care researchers report that the results of a study of injury rates in youth football leagues did not show that flag football is safer than tackle football.
Concerns about the rate of concussions among athletes and the long term effects of repeated head injuries lead to discussion that children under the age of 12 should not participate in contact sports such as tackle football.
The UI researchers studied three large youth football leagues with almost 3,800 participants. The research team compared the number of injuries, severe injuries, and concussions in players competing on flag football teams and tackle football squads.
The results of the study, published in the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine, showed that injuries were more likely to occur in youth flag football than in youth tackle football. There was no significant difference in the number of severe injuries and concussions between the leagues. 
"We wanted to test the hypothesis that not allowing tackling might reduce the risk for injury in young athletes," said Andrew Peterson, MD, a specialist with UI Sports Medicine and the study's lead author. "Based upon our results, we cannot conclude that youth flag football is safer than youth tackle football."
The researchers found that the number of injuries in youth football players is relatively low overall, but sports-related injuries remain the leading cause of injury among children and adolescents. About 2.8 million people between the ages of six and 14 participate in youth football in the U.S.
"We hope that this information will help families as they make decisions about a child's participation in youth football, either in flag or tackle leagues, said Peterson.


Monday, February 6, 2017

Brisk exercise linked to better arterial health already in childhood


High levels of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity are associated with lower arterial stiffness in 6-8-year-old children, according to a new study from the University of Eastern Finland. No similar association was found for light physical activity. Published in Pediatric Exercise Science, the findings constitute part of the Physical Activity and Nutrition in Children (PANIC) Study carried out in the University of Eastern Finland. The study was conducted in collaboration with the University of Cambridge. 
Increased arterial stiffness indicative of the development of cardiovascular disease can begin already in childhood. The study investigated the associations of objectively measured physical activity and sedentary time with arterial stiffness among 136 Finnish 6-8-year-old children. Physical activity and sedentary time were assessed using a combined heart rate and movement sensor. Arterial stiffness was measured using pulse contour analysis based on photoplethysmography. Various confounding factors including diet quality, body fat percentage and sleep length were controlled for in the analyses. 
The study found that children with less moderate-to-vigorous daily physical activity had stiffer arteries. 
The intensity of physical activity is described using MET values, expressing the energy cost of physical activities. The study found that the threshold value for sufficient exercise was 68 minutes of physical activity at the level of at least 5 METs, and 26 minutes of physical activity at the level of at least 6 METs. Children with physical activity below the threshold values had increased arterial stiffness. Examples of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity include games involving running, ball games, gymnastics and dance.
Differences in arterial stiffness were due to differences in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, not light physical activity or sedentary time.
"It seems that the positive effects of physical activity on arterial stiffness require sufficient cardiovascular strain, and light physical activity does not provide that kind of stimulus. Moderate-to-vigorous exercise can also counterbalance the effects of sedentary time," says Dr Eero Haapala, PhD, from the University of Eastern Finland.
The study found that moderate-to-vigorous physical activity was associated with better arterial health already in childhood. According to various exercise recommendations, children need diverse physical activity every day, and at least 60 minutes should be moderate-to-vigorous physical activity.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Physically active children are less depressed


Previous studies have shown that adults and young people who are physically active have a lower risk of developing depression. But the same effect has not been studied in children -- until now.
Results from a new study are showing that children receive the same beneficial effect from being active. We're talking about moderate to vigorous physical activity that leaves kids sweaty or out of breath.
Researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and NTNU Social Research have followed hundreds of children over four years to see if they could find a correlation between physical activity and symptoms of depression.
Healthy to roughhouse
Researchers examined just under 800 children when they were six years old, and conducted follow-up examinations with about 700 of them when they were eight and ten years old. Physical activity was measured with accelerometers, which served as a kind of advanced pedometer, and parents were interviewed about their children's mental health.
"Being active, getting sweaty and roughhousing offer more than just physical health benefits. They also protect against depression," says Tonje Zahl, a PhD candidate at NTNU. She is first author of the article on the study findings, which was recently published in the February 2017 issue of Pediatrics.
The work was conducted as part of Tidlig Trygg i Trondheim, a multi-year study of child development and mental health.
Fewer symptoms
Physically active six- and eight-year-olds showed fewer symptoms of depression when they were examined two years later. Physical activity thus seems to protect against the development of depression.
"This is important to know, because it may suggest that physical activity can be used to prevent and treat depression already in childhood," says Silje Steinsbekk, associate professor in NTNU's Department of Psychology. Steinsbekk and Professor Lars Wichstrøm are Zahl's mentors and coauthors.
Steinsbekk stresses that these results should now be tested in randomized studies where researchers increase children's physical activity and examine whether those who participate in these measures have fewer symptoms of depression over time than those who do not participate.
"We also studied whether children who have symptoms of depression are less physically active over time, but didn't find that to be the case," she says.
Facilitate activity for children
Previous findings in adolescents and adults showed that sedentary lifestyles -- like watching television and computer gaming -- are associated with depression, but the NTNU children's study found no correlation between depression and a sedentary lifestyle.
Depressive symptoms did not lead to greater inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle did not increase the risk of depression.
So the message to parents and health professionals is: Facilitate physical activity, which means that children get a little sweaty and breathless. Try a bike ride or outdoor play. Limiting children's TV or iPad screen time is not enough. Children need actual increased physical activity.