Hey kids, say NO to drugs!

Unless, of course, that drug comes in a brightly coloured can that can be legally purchased at every store in the nation. Did you know that about 75% of our youth age 5-12 years old are saying “yes” to the most widely used stimulant in the world, Caffeine.

Caffeine affects the body by being absorbed directly through the stomach lining. At the brain it binds to receptors that usually bind to a chemical that calms you down. This interference sets off an alarm in the body. Appropriately enough, this alarm is the same one that sounds if you are actually being chased by a red bull. Adrenaline is released, your heart beats faster, extra sugar is released into the blood from the liver, and your kidneys get rid of extra water. Add in a few “feel good” chemicals that are released to numb the pain your body thinks it may incur if the bull catches you, and who-la, you’re ready for your drive to work.

The body learns to depend on this process so when you don’t have your caffeine, you experience withdrawal effects such as irritability and headache. The above is true whether you’re 6 or 66.

When reviewing the relatively ‘scant’ research on the affects of frequent caffeine intake in youth, it can be concluded that there are far more negative findings that positive ones. These findings include:

A negative correlation between caffeine ingestion and sleep (More caffeine, less sleep)

  • A negative correlation between prolonged caffeine use and bone density (More caffeine, less bone density)
  • A positive correlation between daytime “sleepiness” and caffeine ingestion (More caffeine consumption, less energy during the day)
  • A positive correlation between consumption of caffeine beverages and greater body mass index. (More caffeine consumption, fatter kids)
  • A positive correlation between caffeine cessation and withdrawal symptoms (Take away caffeine, get withdrawal symptoms)

No findings were available in favor of daily caffeine consumption for kids.

Aside from the direct physiological affects of caffeine as a drug, kids consume caffeine primarily through soft drinks that are high in sugar. These drinks take the place of other nutritiously dense beverages like water, milk, and some fruit juices. This is thought to be one of primary factors behind the decrease in bone mass and increase in body mass index.

While the negative physiological affects of caffeine in youth are of concern, I believe these pale in comparison to the psychological effects as they relate to addiction and future drug use. Caffeine is often a child’s first exposure to “I can take this to feel good”. They draw this conclusion as it is resonated daily in American culture. Coffee wakes us up, alcohol puts us to bed. We don’t use drugs though, not in this house! When one establishes the process of “take THIS to feel THIS way” at a young age, how could it go anywhere good?

There is definitely a difference between having a coffee drink a couple times month as a treat and having a couple energy drinks every day. It’s very dangerous to lose accountability for the way you feel. If you don’t sleep, sit on your butt all day, eat like crap, and have an abysmal outlook on life, you SHOULD feel miserable. Kids should figure this out naturally and learn to make changes accordingly. We as adults have to mentor them. By the way, “M” on the monster can doesn’t stand for “mentor”.

Caffeine is not evil. Small amounts actually can have positive health effects on adults. I take 120 mgs of caffeine every morning. As an adult, however, I am able to evaluate caffeine’s affect on me. I am aware of how much I take in and I don’t rely on it for energy throughout the day. I understand that my energy is going to come from my lifestyle and mindset. I am also able to make this association with my mood and any other available drug. Alcohol can help me relax, but not as much as focusing on rationally dealing with my daily challenges and maintaining perspective. Children are not capable of this. They establish “take more of THIS, feel more of THIS way”. Pretty soon they take something different to make them happy, sad, awake, asleep, focused, not focused, the list goes on.

While moderate caffeine intake (less than 300 mgs/day) has generally been considered “safe” for adult populations, very little research is available on the affects of caffeine in children.

This is alarming considering the above statistic in addition to the fact that children age 12-17 are the fastest growing segment of the population using caffeine on a daily basis. Should we as adults be concerned? Should we intervene? Read on to discover the answer to these, as well as other rhetorical questions.

The association between caffeine dependency at a young age and it’s affect on future drug use has not been effectively researched because of the alarmingly enormous amount of accepted and unregulated caffeine use in youth. Researchers have found it difficult to draw a direct association when an overwhelming majority of youth takes in large amounts of caffeine daily. We must rely on behavioral logic and the current physiological findings to draw our conclusions about children and frequent caffeine ingestion.

While caffeine is not considered overtly dangerous, it can be concluded that the risks of varying severity outweigh any benefit of daily caffeine use in children. We as parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors can help educate our children and lead them on a path of health and wellness. In this way, we can create a future of happy, healthy, pain-free adults!

Written by
Coach Brett Klika is the Director of Athletic Performance at Todd Durkin’s Fitness Quest 10 in San Diego, CA. He specializes in youth fitness and athletic performance, overseeing a staff of 8 strength coaches developing programs for over 300 youth per week, both athletes and non-athletes. In addition to coaching, Brett currently authors for a variety of publications, produces DVD’s on fitness and athletic performance and presents around the world on topics in fitness, wellness, and sports performance. Brett can be reached at brett@fitnessquest10.com or you can go to his website, www.brettklika.com.

The other day I was lucky enough to be part of and experience interacting with some of the world’s best Rugby League players as they went through their paces whilst in training camp preparing to battle and come back from their first series loss in eight years. Eight years in a row is incredible in today’s age of professional team sport where so many things change on a daily basis let alone year in and year out. Part of the day was being able to hear from their team doctor who was going to give us an insight into what it takes to keep them playing at their optimum level and how to manage their injuries.

After this session I realised that we have a lot in common with elite athletes. Nearly everything that the doctor told us was things that we should apply in everyday life and in our own training. The only difference was that the athletes have stringent guidelines and everything is monitored with nothing left to chance.

So from a personal perspective here’s what we have in common and need to perform:

  • Sleep — we need plenty of it to balance out our hard work
  • Nutrition — the most important thing for performance. We have to balance our exercise and rest and ensure we fuel our bodies appropriately.
  • Timing — you can’t go hard all of the time. Workouts need to be periodised so we can peak when we have to
  • Balance — in everything we do! The amount of exercise, the amount of rest the amount of food we eat and the type of food we eat.
  • Downtime – What we do in our down time is more important than our actual workouts and this strongly influences our results.
  • Mindset! – Positive all the time, learning not to cut corners, take responsibility and work to find solutions to whatever is in the way.
  • Never give up – stay hungry and always have the desire to do more and not rest on your prior results.

So that’s it from a personal perspective. There are a few other things that we need to have in common with elite athletes if we are to be successful in our business.

  • Have good systems in place – being systematic results in less errors and more efficiency
  • Be accountable – have checks and balances in place for everything. Know why you pull up short and know how to fix it!
    Successful athletes have a great team behind them. Make sure you invest in your staff both from an educational and financial standpoint. Don’t try to do everyone’s job just to cut corners and costs.
  • Lead by example – knowing boundaries and being able to follow you helps them to invest “themselves” in the business\
  • Good communication – this goes both ways. Have the ability to listen as well as keep everyone informed on what is going on. Elite athletes can work alone or be able to communicate with the team to get the best outcomes.

So do you have these things in common with elite athletes and where can you grow and succeed?

Written By – Ken Baldwin

Back and core strength are at the heart of bodily fitness. The Stability Ball can be used to strengthen your back muscles and your core fitness in a variety of different ways. When working with dumbbells or machines, you can use a Stability Ball as a bench substitute. By doing so, you are able to isolate the specific muscle groups that will be worked and focus on areas which need improvement in order to gain a more rounded approach to your muscular exercise. In addition to working traditionally exercised groups of muscles, you can even target muscle groups which you simply cannot with the same workout when using the bench. By changing the angle of your movements, you will get a better overall workout. Your overall muscle strength will also improve quicker when using the stability ball in preference to the bench style of work out.

The general consensus has been stability balls are just for rolling around on. Our eyes may have been opened a little by their use in physical therapy, however, experimentation and regular use of the stability ball to date has been fairly limited. As part of an active and full fitness regime, the stability ball can have a multitude of benefits. Here are some terrific uses for the stability ball which could add diversity, difference and extra levels of performance to your work outs!
When choosing to include a stability ball in your workout, you change your routine of exercise. Muscles which may not receive as much opportunity to be worked then others will be included when you use a stability ball. At the same time your level of balance, flexibility, and coordination will improve.

Any athlete or fitness professional knows improving these three basic foundations of body control and fitness will have a significant impact on how well you are able to perform. Another benefit is also found in reducing the chance of a serious injury occurring while you are practicing or playing the sport by employing better techniques and a higher level of sustained fitness and muscle preparation.

Stability balls can also be used in warm-ups and warm downs. The all important stretch before and after your workout will really benefit from some very simply inclusions of the stability ball. For example, balancing on it with your abdominals is a great way to stretch various muscles all at once.
If you are looking for new ways to tone and shape your gluts, the stability ball will also happily join in, and intensify the effects of traditional butt exercises. People who suffer from knee or thigh problems, or wishing to strengthen these areas can also make use of a stability ball when doing a host of different exercises including knee folds and even Pilates.

Like any change to an existing fitness regime, the inclusion of a stability ball should be done with a good level of understanding of your new piece of equipment. Even the most seasoned of athlete or fittest of people takes time to get used to the stability ball and controlling it, so do not allow yourself to be discouraged when you first begin incorporating it into your fitness regime.
Conversely, it’s important not to skip preliminary tests of your new product and incorporate it straight ahead to avoid injury. Give yourself some time to adjust to the stability ball and how it moves before you use any types of exercise equipment in conjunction with it. Once you feel confident and have mastered basic control of your stability ball, then go about introducing it to your workout routine. A little patience in the beginning will certainly be rewarded with positive results!

Stability balls offer a variety of positive reasons for including them in your workout. They help increase the intensity of your traditional exercises on the usual muscle groups, as well as reaching others which have not previously gained benefit with the same work out. They increase strength in balance and core fitness and add efficiency to your fitness regime. All sorts of exercises including warm ups and warm downs are improved when including this flexible, multi-purpose piece of equipment to your work out.

The stability ball also enjoys a long life cycle as it is adaptable to your fitness level. Through time saving, a new addition to your workout and something which will continue to challenge you, a stability balls is a fantastic edition to anyone who wishes to increase their own fitness, or see genuine results in benefits in clients to gyms, Personal Training and all kinds of coaching.


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