Spring is finally making its way to Boston, and with it comes the wonderful outdoor activities that children wait for all winter. Riding a bike usually tops the list, and new research underscores the importance of wearing helmets—no matter how young the child, how short the ride or how safe the street.
A study in the Journal of Pediatrics, conducted by William P. Meehan III, MD, Lois K. Lee, MD, MPH, Rebekah C. Mannix, MD, MPH, of Boston Children’s Hospital, and Christopher M. Fischer, MD, of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, shows that simply having helmet laws in place results in a 20 percent decrease in death rates and injuries for children younger than 16 who had been in bicycle-motor vehicle collisions. Research has already shown that people who wear helmets while riding a bike have an 88 percent lower risk of brain injury; but the first step is getting people to wear those helmets—and having laws can help. …
When it comes to achieving a healthy weight, nutrition is only one part of the process. Adding exercise to the mix helps build heart health and strength, and—perhaps of equal importance—it also helps build self-confidence.
While regular exercise is paramount, it’s not always easy for a teenager to join their high school’s competitive teams to stay in shape. “It’s hard to tell a kid to join something like soccer if they’ve never done it before, and their peers have been doing it since they were toddlers,” says Sarah Picard, MA, Med, physical activity specialist at Boston Children’s Optimal Weight for Life (OWL) Program.
This year with the help of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center, Picard created a solution to that problem, and established OWL on the Water—a joint program with Community Rowing Inc. that allows OWL patients to form an exclusive rowing team, thereby providing habitual exercise and promoting teamwork. …
Lots of times, when I ask my patients what they think is the best part of school, they say, “Recess.”
They may be on to something.
This week the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) came out with a policy statement titled “The Crucial Role of Recess in School.” Recess, they say, is necessary for the health and development of children and should never be withheld for punishment or for academic reasons.
Here’s why recess is so crucial:
- When kids get breaks, they are more able to learn.
- Through play at recess, kids learn communication skills, such as negotiation, cooperation, sharing and problem-solving.
- Play also gives kids opportunities to practice coping skills, such as perseverance and self-control.
- Kids need exercise. The AAP recommends an hour a day, and recess helps with that.
- Kids need to play, “for the sheer joy of it.” Mental health is important too. …
In an effort to promote physical activity and reduce traffic in and around its campus, Children’s Hospital Boston is a proud co-sponsor of a new city-wide bike sharing program that kicked off Thursday at Boston’s City Hall. Dubbed the “New Balance Hubway,” the program provides 600 rental bicycles, which can be picked up and dropped off at any of the 61 solar-powered stations set up throughout the city.
People can register with the Hubway program online for discounted rates, or simply go to any Hubway station and borrow a bike. Once you’re done with your ride, you return the bike to the nearest Hubway station and your credit card or rider’s account will be automatically charged for the amount of time used. It’s like Zipcar, but with pedals.
Modeled after proven successful bike share programs in cities like Paris, Montreal, Washington D.C. and Minneapolis, Children’s is hopeful that hospital employees, parents or visitors may pick up a bicycle near the hospital at one of the six local Hubway station and ride to an offsite meeting, run an errand downtown, or get some exercise on the Esplanade. Of course cyclists should always wear a helmet, and should you find yourself in the area but without the proper protection Children’s lobby Safety Store is now selling adult bike helmets for $10.
While on the topics of bikes, here are a few quick bike safety points for parents of young riders: