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Fitness for Life - FAQs

GENERAL: Does physical activity protect against cognitive decline and improve brain function?

The authors agree that exercise protects against cognitive decline and improves brain function. A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides ample evidence that for people of all ages, including middle school students, exercise benefits cognitive performance. School-aged youth who get regular physical activity and physical education score better on academic tests, and adults who exercise are at lower risk of diseases such as Alzheimer's than adults who do not exercise. Use this link to access the CDC report: www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/health_and_academics/pdf/health-academic-achievement.pdf

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GENERAL: How can I help my parents have better cardiorespiratory fitness?

Adults are often less active and less fit than teens. Adults are also nearly four times more likely to be overweight than teens. You can help your parents and other adults by discussing your concerns with them (that you know cardiorespiratory fitness is important for them too) and doing some of these things: Ask the person (or people) to walk with you. A 30-minute walk is recommended for adults, but if the person is not often active, even a 10- or 15-minute walk is better than nothing. Try to find a regular time for a family walk.Share information about good...

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GENERAL: How do you convert cardiorespiratory fitness scores (PACER laps and time for the mile run) into aerobic capacity scores?

Several formulae have been developed for converting field test scores of cardiorespiratory endurance into aerobic capacity scores. Until recently, FitnessGram used a formula that included field test scores, age, gender, and BMI to determine aerobic capacity (VO2max). FitnessGram now uses a more recently developed formula for converting PACER laps (cardiorespiratory endurance scores) into aerobic capacity scores. Tables have been developed to simplify the conversion (they use a table rather than a formula). These tables are available at www.cooperinstitute.org/lookup-tables.  The new PACER conversion tables (FG 10.0) do not use BMI. This solves problems associated with the previous tables related to BMI....

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GENERAL: How do you measure your body fat?

Your body fat can be measured in a couple of ways. When you measure body fat you are trying to determine the amount of your body weight that is made up of fat (as opposed to other tissues such as muscle, bone, and body organs). The best methods are called laboratory measures and require experts who use expensive machines or equipment. DEXA is an X-ray technique that is considered the best way to measure body fat. It provides an X-ray picture that shows the bones and the fat and provides a measure of the percentage of the body tissue that...

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GENERAL: How often do experts suggest that teens do muscle fitness exercises?

The general recommendation for muscle fitness exercises for teens depends on several factors. First, it is important to know whether you want to build muscular endurance or muscular strength. Second, it is important to know your age. Finally, it is important to know if you are a beginner or a person who has been doing regular muscle fitness exercise. Strength exercises should be performed two or three days a week and not on consecutive days. For muscular endurance, the exercises can be done three to six days a week. For preteens (11 to 12), younger teens (13 to 14), and...

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