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Fizz ed: Got squirmy kids?

Posted by on Jun 11, 2014

When I was a kid, I could never sit through class without drawing, moving around, or talking to my neighbor. I was constantly being reprimanded by my latest teacher. I thought something was wrong with me until I went to an “artsy” college where I could learn at my own pace, and take physical classes like sculpture and painting.

I hope this kind of research continues to be done. We all need more “physical education”!


From the Timbernook website:

WHY CHILDREN FIDGET: And what we can do about it

Angela Hanscom – Thursday, June 05, 2014

A perfect stranger pours her heart out to me over the phone. She complains that her six-year-old son is unable to sit still in the classroom. The school wants to test him for ADHD (attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder). This sounds familiar, I think to myself. As a pediatric occupational therapist, I’ve noticed that this is a fairly common problem today.

The mother goes on to explain how her son comes home every day with a yellow smiley face. The rest of his class goes home with green smiley faces for good behavior. Every day this child is reminded that his behavior is unacceptable, simply because he can’t sit still for long periods of time.

The mother starts crying. “He is starting to say things like, ‘I hate myself’ and ‘I’m no good at anything.’” This young boy’s self-esteem is plummeting all because he needs to move more often.

Over the past decade, more and more children are being coded as having attention issues and possibly ADHD. A local elementary teacher tells me that at least eight of her twenty-two students have trouble paying attention on a goodday. At the same time, children are expected to sit for longer periods of time. In fact, even kindergarteners are being asked to sit for thirty minutes during circle time at some schools.

The problem: children are constantly in an upright position these days. It is rare to find children rolling down hills, climbing trees, and spinning in circles just for fun. Merry-go-rounds and teeter-totters are a thing of the past. Recess times have shortened due to increasing educational demands, and children rarely play outdoors due to parental fears, liability issues, and the hectic schedules of modern-day society. Lets face it: Children are not nearly moving enough, and it is really starting to become a problem.

I recently observed a fifth grade classroom as a favor to a teacher. I quietly went in and took a seat towards the back of the classroom. The teacher was reading a book to the children and it was towards the end of the day. I’ve never seen anything like it. Kids were tilting back their chairs back at extreme angles, others were rocking their bodies back and forth, a few were chewing on the ends of their pencils, and one child was hitting a water bottle against her forehead in a rhythmic pattern.


This was not a special needs classroom, but a typical classroom at a popular art-integrated charter school. My first thought was that the children might have been fidgeting because it was the end of the day and they were simply tired. Even though this may have been part of the problem, there was certainly another underlying reason.

We quickly learned after further testing, that most of the children in the classroom had poor core strength and balance. In fact, we tested a few other classrooms and found that when compared to children from the early 1980s, only one out of twelve children had normal strength and balance. Only one! Oh my goodness, I thought to myself. These children need to move!

Ironically, many children are walking around with an underdeveloped vestibular (balance) system today–due to restricted movement. In order to develop a strong balance system, children need to move their body in all directions, for hours at a time. Just like with exercising, they need to do this more than just once-a-week in order to reap the benefits. Therefore, having soccer practice once or twice a week is likely not enough movement for the child to develop a strong sensory system.

Children are going to class with bodies that are less prepared to learn than ever before. With sensory systems not quite working right, they are asked to sit and pay attention. Children naturally start fidgeting in order to get the movement their body so desperately needs and is not getting enough of to “turn their brain on.” What happens when the children start fidgeting? We ask them to sit still and pay attention; therefore, their brain goes back to “sleep.”

Fidgeting is a real problem. It is a strong indicator that children are not getting enough movement throughout the day. We need to fix the underlying issue. Recess times need to be extended and kids should be playing outside as soon as they get home from school. Twenty minutes of movement a day is not enough! They need hours of play outdoors in order to establish a healthy sensory system and to support higher-level attention and learning in the classroom.

         In order for children to learn, they need to be able to pay attention. In order to pay attention, we need to let them move.



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Be Physical or Be Dead: HARVARD ON THE MOVE

Posted by on Feb 11, 2011

shapeimage_1Yes, we DO need to keep active. Just because we can take advantage of modern “labor-saving” devices, this does not mean that our bodies and brains really need to cease vigorous physical activity. In fact, we need that daily just as much as we need water, whole fresh food, and companionship. Yes, JUST AS MUCH AS FOOD AND WATER, we need exercise. We will become physically and mentally sick without it.

So, please listen to this. It’s long, they are professors, but hear them out. Good barefoot running basics from two of the movement’s stars. The truth within…

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Posted by on Jan 4, 2011


Favorite subjects for many, and believe it or not, part of your health regimen…

27450_1216680478_6794_nI spent a lovely evening with my friend Susie Gerrie Davis, wonderful author, radio host and communicator. We were attending Tiara Tuesday, a networking evening with a charitable twist, put on by Austinwoman Magazine.

Susie has encouraged me to share my knowledge of food, healthy eating, and the wine that goes with it. So with the help of husband Smokey, wine consultant for Spec’s Fine Wines and Spirits.

I will talk about the health benefits of wine and which to pair with what locally sourced, fresh culinary delights. Austin has an abundance of wonderful restaurants, as well as farmers’ markets and of course, Whole Foods world headquarters, I’ll be snagging some great recipes; easy, fresh and tasty!


I will also present more on our wonderful town, Austin, and if you don’t live here, you will want to visit as I present some of its highlights.

myproduceWEB shapeimage_1 smokeywineWEB shapeimage_2

Keep in touch, let me know what you would like to read about. Til next time, yours truly….

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Posted by on Nov 14, 2010


This article, entitled “Pain in the Neck”, from Experience Life Magazine, offers some tips on keeping sound and pain-free while sitting at your desk. The bottom line: Reduce inactivity as much as possible, but if you must sit at a desk for long periods of time, make sure you are sitting right!


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Posted by on Nov 11, 2010


Movement is like food. We try to make the greater portion of our diet consist of items that nourish us, saving dessert as a small but satisfying treat. It is that way with activity. Ideally, we are in motion, on our feet, using our bodies to perform various tasks throughout the day, saving rest and seated behavior for short but savory periods of time.

“The amount of time that most Americans spend being inactive has risen steadily in recent decades. A 2009 editorial in the British Journal of Sports Medicine reported that, on average, adults spend more than nine hours a day in oxymoronic ‘sedentary activities’.”

Here is an interesting article relating to our computer-bound lives. It discusses the long-
term health implications of a sedentary life-sorry, desk-jockeys.

If you sit for long hours, you experience no ‘‘isometric contraction of the antigravity (postural) muscles,’’ according to an overview of the consequences of inactivity published this month in Exercise and Sports Sciences Reviews. Your muscles, unused for hours at a time, change in subtle fashion, and as a result, your risk for heart disease, diabetes and other diseases can rise.

From the Health desk of the New York Times, is a story of a study done by the Cooper Institute in Dallas, with some surprising results!

“What was unexpected was that many of the men who sat long hours and developed heart problems also exercised. The men worked out, then sat in cars and in front of televisions for hours, and their risk of heart disease soared, despite the exercise. Their workouts did not counteract the ill effects of sitting.”

Now I think I’ll get up from this computer and take Waldo for a walk.




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