Kudos to Coach Stacy who was featured in the February issue of Scholastic’s Choices Magazine. In case you’re wondering, Coach doesn’t fall for any of these excuses. So get up, get out, and get moving!
Q: My 13-year old daughter has been hanging out after school with friends at the local coffee shop. I’m concerned because I’ve heard that drinking coffee isn’t healthy for children and teens. After reading your recent article on the health benefits of coffee, I don’t know what to think. Could you weigh in on this? ~ Juanita, Montrose, CO
A: I’m glad you asked, Juanita. And the answer, of course, is everything in moderation. Too much coffee – at any age – is not a good thing, mainly because of the caffeine content. The FDA has determined that up to 400 mg of caffeine per day is fine for adults; unfortunately, it has set no specific guidelines for kids and teenagers. However, Health Canada has recommended no more than 2.5 mg/kg of body weight. So a teen who weighs in at 125 lbs, should not drink more than 140 mg of caffeine per day. To put that into perspective, here is the caffeine content in common beverages:
- Starbucks grande coffee – 330 mg
- Brewed coffee (8 oz) – 163 mg
- Red Bull – 80 mg
- Mountain Dew – 54 mg
- Iced Tea – 47 mg
- Pepsi – 38 mg
- Coca Cola – 34 mg
- Chocolate Milk – 5 mg
- 7-Up – 0 mg
Excess caffeine consumption can cause jitteriness and sleep deprivation – which obviously isn’t a good thing for kids or adults. But it can also lead to behavioral problems, hyperactivity, and difficulty in concentration with kids and teens. Also, coffee should definitely not be substituted for nutritionally healthier beverages such as milk and water. One other thing – because coffee is a diuretic and increases urination, this can lead to dehydration. Even worse, increased urination causes loss of calcium, which can lead to bone loss, since calcium is essential for bone growth. That old wives’ tale that coffee drinking will stunt one’s growth – well, maybe it’s not an old wives’ tale after all.
Forbidding your daughter from drinking coffee will only make her want to drink it more. My advice is that you encourage her to drink it, as well as all caffeinated, high-sugar beverages, only occasionally, in moderation – and not as substitutes for healthier beverages, especially water. You might even take it one step further and suggest that she and her friends take up active after school hobbies like intramural sports, biking, or even walking around the mall.
Today was National Coffee Day. Actually, I celebrate national coffee day every day – but yesterday I enjoyed a whole lot of company in that commemoration. In fact, some 54% of the population in the United States drinks coffee on a daily basis. Lucky for all of us – half a dozen coffee joints from McDonalds to Dunkin’ Donuts distributed free cups of coffee to anyone who asked. And since there’s been a bit of buzz lately about the assorted health benefits of coffee, I decided to pack up my iPad and do some research while enjoying various and sundry free cups of jo all over town.
One of my first surprises lay in the discovery that coffee is actually a fruit. Specifically, the coffee bean is extracted from the cherry fruit. Who knew? And interestingly enough, the longer coffee is roasted, the weaker is the strength and impact of its caffeine, so that darker roasts deliver less caffeine than lighter roasts. I love the lighter roasts, which just might explain why I come across as being somewhat hyper.
Okay, very hyper.
During the 17th century in England, coffee houses were known as “penny universities” where a cup of coffee cost a penny and engaging conversation was held. Come to think of it, this might be where the expression “a penny for your thoughts” originated.
Coffee itself, before all the cream and sugar are added, boasts some surprising health benefits:
- The smell of coffee alone provides an olfactory-approved aromatherapy.
- Folks who drink 4-cups of coffee a day are less likely to have health issues such as certain cancers, stokes, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Parkinson’s disease and dementia.
- The caffeine in coffee, when not ingested in high quantities, can be quite beneficial to some. However, decaf may be healthier for those who need to watch their caffeine intake because it raises blood pressure and epinephrine known as adrenaline.
- Coffee is rich in magnesium and chromium, which help the body regulate insulin.
- Studies have shown that drinking coffee can reduce the severity of symptoms in people who suffer from poor eyesight and tinnitus.
- Coffee drinkers report experiencing improved mental acuity, and thus, improved performance at work, school or sports.
- Drinking coffee is a very social and calming activity for some and therefore throwing down a cup or two opens the door to conversation and relaxation. For many, day without coffee is a day without sunshine.
- Coffee aids “” Drinking coffee seems to stimulate the muscles of one’s colon.
Are there any negatives to drinking coffee? Well, if you’re drinking coffee in public, make sure you know where the restrooms are. Coffee is very effective as a diuretic. Coffee also contains acids which can irritate the lining of the stomach, therefore causing upset – so, know your limits. Finally, adding the “extras” (i.e., creams, sugars) into your coffee rings up quite the caloric punch, so beware!
I don’t know what I’d do if I ever had to give up coffee. My morning brew is like warm hug from a good friend on a cold day. How I do LOVE my coffee!
Q: Your recent post on yoga interested me because I, too, have been under a lot of stress lately and think I’d like to try yoga for its calming benefits. Unfortunately, one of my stresses has to do with my finances and it seems as though yoga is fairly expensive, not only for the classes, but the equipment too. What would you say are “must haves” in terms of gear for someone just starting out in yoga? ~ Giselle – Parker, CO
A: Actually, Giselle, you’re in luck, because “essential” yoga gear is relatively minimal. And it makes sense – since yoga, after all, has been around for thousands of years, long before Lululemon was around. Yoga is an exercise for mind, body and spirit, so that’s really all you need. But if you can swing it financially, there are just a few items that will make learning yoga a little easier:
- Yoga Mat – one that’s around ¼ inch thick so that you have some cushioning on hard surfaces. Your mat will serve to define your space for poses as well as provide traction so that you don’t slip. Some studios provide mats, but for $20-$30 you can buy your own and not have to share perspiration with the yogi who was in class before you.
- Yoga Blocks – a helpful prop that will assist with correct alignment and for poses for which you can’t, as a beginner, reach the floor with your hands.
- Yoga Straps – which are especially helpful for beginners who aren’t yet terribly flexible. The straps assist with an assortment of poses for which your arms and legs aren’t long or limber enough.
- Comfortable, Breathable Clothing – nothing fancy, but the kind that allows for a full range of motion, without revealing “too much.” You’ll want to avoid super “slick” pants that are made of Lycra or similar fabrics, as these might cause you to slip.
The last thing in the world you’ll want to do is cause yourself more stress over expensive yoga gear. Most discount stores like Target and Walmart will have reasonably priced equipment and clothing that will fit your needs. Namaste, Giselle, and good luck!
In honor of Global Employee Health and Fitness Month, I’m starting a MOVE-ment to encourage people to take ownership of their health. No need to join a gym, or start a new diet, or register to run a race. Simply make a promise to yourself to practice a healthy lifestyle by:
- Moving – incorporating 60 minutes of physical activity in each and every day
- Eating a healthy and balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, protein, calcium, and whole grains
- Drinking plenty of water (8 X 8 – eight 8-oz servings of fluid daily)
- Getting plenty of sleep (7-9 hours each night)
- Limiting your screen time to an hour a day
Log on to the Global Employee Health and Fitness Website to join the movement.
Click on “Sign Up,” to register. Then scroll down to the Activity Board and click on “MOVE-ment: Take Ownership of Your Health.”
Click on “Join” to do your part in taking ownership of your health and improving the health of the nation. Invite your family, neighbors, co-workers and friends to join too – together we can make America healthy!
Score a touchdown with this full body ball workout!