physical activity

Attack on Asthma

In elementary school I played on a traveling soccer team. Before every game we would pack our bags. We were careful not to forget our uniform, shin guards, socks, and cleats. However, there was another item that was crucial to some of the members of the team: their inhalers. My best friend played on the same team that I did and before we would leave for our games her parents would always remind her to grab her inhaler. I remember having to get her inhaler for her during some of her asthma attacks, and it wasn’t always on the soccer field. Sometimes it was at school or in our homes.

Asthma has proven to be one of the most common serious chronic diseases of childhood. Schools and homes can harbor triggers that can lead to trouble breathing and asthma attacks.

Exposures that can trigger asthma attacks include:
·    Secondhand smoke
·    Dust mites
·    Mold
·    Cockroaches
·    Pet dander
·    Ozone and particle pollution

While most of these are exposures that you can look for indoors, there is also a way to become more aware of the quality of the outdoor air in your area. The Air Quality Index (AQI) , shown during your local weather report, can be a useful tool to provide information on the potential health risks of the air in your area.

Some children with asthma can have difficulty playing outside when there are high levels of pollutants in the air. Even small amounts of outdoor physical activity, such as walking, can trigger an asthma attack when the air quality is poor.

Some measures that can be made to help manage asthma include:

  • Eliminate smoking around children or the areas in which they live, learn, and play.
  • Use integrated pest management (IPM) to help prevent pest problems.
  • Fix leaks and moisture problems indoors.
  • Dust and vacuum regularly in areas that kids will be.
  • Locate animals away from sensitive children and ventilation systems.

About the author: Nicole Reising is an intern at the Office of Children’s Health Protection. She is a sophomore studying non-profit management at Indiana University.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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CHILDHOOD OBESITY PART II: Staying Active

Every morning I walk through the lobby of my apartment building, passing a group of kids who are waiting for the school bus. What are they doing as they wait? They aren’t talking to or playing with one another. They’re “playing” on their BlackBerrys. The BlackBerry: a gadget made for business people, not for seven-year-olds as a substitute for tag or basketball.

Not only cell phones, but other technological advances have made children more sedentary. Videogames, computers, and iPods have given children a way to stay “active” without actually being active. These activities do not involve much movement beyond the comfort of their own home or couch. It seems that children are having more fun interacting with technology rather than with one another. They are choosing inactive doings rather than active, such as, participating in sports teams or playing outside.

Physical activity seems to be diminishing more and more everyday. No longer do we see kids playing outside until dark. We don’t even see kids out on the playground at recess much anymore. In some of the schools that I have volunteered, the children are even given a choice as to whether they want to go outside or play inside on the computers or in the library. Only for asthmatic children who can’t play outside with poor air quality is this a choice worth having. Physical education is seen less in school systems as well. Although it still may be present, the time spent in P.E. is much shorter and it can be said that the activities are less strenuous than in the past.

The purpose of this two-part blog is to show the two main causes of childhood obesity. It is not enough to just eat right or to just exercise appropriately. The two must be done together. Obesity is a two-part fiend that can be solved with the right diet and exercise. We must ensure that our kids are healthy now such that they can be healthy in the future and for the rest of their lives.

About the author: Nicole Reising is an intern at the Office of Children’s Health Protection. She is a sophomore studying non-profit management at Indiana University.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.