This article is about the condition of paediatric dynapenia from early age to the later years of life. The long-term cost it has on you and your family and how you can help it.
The condition that you haven’t heard about.
It’s not spoken about enough and it’s actually a lot worse than we think.
It’s known as ‘Paediatric Dynapenia’.
First of all, Dynapenia is the age-associated loss of muscle strength that is NOT caused by neurologic or muscular diseases.
“Dynapenia is the age-associated loss of muscle strength that is NOT caused by neurologic or muscular diseases.”
Dynapenia is historically associated with adults with a ‘poverty of strength’. Unfortunately, there is a global trend that youth are at risk for the presence of dynapenia.
How does Dynapenia apply to me?
Paediatric Dynapenia if you haven’t heard of it is not a virus or a disease. It is an acquired and treatable condition in youth characterised by muscle weakness and neuromuscular dysfunction which is not caused by neurological or muscular disease.
It has a broad range of consequences for the children who it is found in.
A study by Laurson et al (2017), presently both boys and girls complete on average 6 less repetitions of pull ups on average compared to the 1980s.
You may think “oh well, do I really need to do that many chin ups in my life?”. It’s about the principle of being strong. And here are the reasons why it should be on your mind;
In adults, the combination of dynapenia and obesity can result in a higher risk of functional decline and death.
Dynapenia is a muscle weakness or low muscle strength (a component of sarcopenia).
Obesity is an increase in body fat.
There is a synergistic relationship between dynapenia and obesity which limits performance in adults and youth.
Recommendations and the cost if you don’t
Physical activity guidelines recommend 60 mins of moderate-to-vigorous activity per day. A portion of which should be vigorous activity at least 3 days per week.
In Australia, 81% of Australia children do not meet the recommended guidelines for physical activity. 25% of all Australian children are overweight or obese.
Across the rest of the world the numbers are relatively similar. The idea that we are a ‘highly active’ country in a healthy lifestyle statistically, do not speak bounds.
The accumulation of sedentary lifestyles cost the Australian Health Care System $13 Billion a year. When we talk about ‘saving money’ from not going to the gym or not competing in sport, it’s not really saving any money, it’s putting our body in debt until our wallet eventually takes up the slack from a hip or knee replacement or chronic pain condition, or regular trips to the chiropractor or physio.
Would it not be far easier and more functional to just be regular and consistent exercise from the get-go?
Having a mix between ‘purposeful’ (structured program) and ‘non-purposeful’ (non-structured) exercise will ensure that there is a mix between building a robust and resilient body with progressions and being able to keep your body moving and also enjoying the journey with one another.
Being able to tie all this in with your family is going to be really crucial to building healthy habits and actions along the way, including the ability to learn how to progress and create positive change along all ages of our children’s life.
Health is very much taken for granted until it’s suddenly not.
Arguably, one of the biggest periods of transition for our health is during the adolescent years. Hormones kick in, some kids get taller and stronger, others get wider and heavier. Not to mention sport becomes more serious, they learn what exams and study are and friendship groups start to become divided. There is a lot on their plate.
The last thing they need to think about is their physical health when their mental health is getting poked by a large stick every day.
It’s important to talk about adolescents because adolescents are when the greatest decline occurs in Moderate-to-Vigorous Activity (MVPA), with females demonstrating a greater decline than males. MVPA is going to create the biggest improvements in an individual’s health along with strength training. What seems as another stress now, is only going to be a bigger stress later as being weak as an adolescent = increased risk of mortality, psychiatric issues and musculoskeletal issues later in life.
Much of this is thrown together because of an increase in total screen time. As total screen time increases, the time spent accumulating MVPA decreases.
How you can help
There is no upside of not doing exercise and resistance training throughout our entire life. As an adult, its crucial for not just yourself to be a fully functioning strong and healthy human, but your children too.
Actions speak louder than words.
There is no ‘pill’ to fix this condition of Dynapenia and Paediatric Dynapenia, it’s a matter of being action-orientated and actually putting in the consistent work. It’s like you tell your kids when studying for a test, “don’t leave it to the last minute”.
If you leave it until your kids are in the adult years and yourself when you’re in your later years, there is no ‘re-sit’ or opportunity to make up for lost time. The damage is already done and will only get worse if left untouched.
The great thing is there is not ‘too late’ to start. There is only now and the future. If you want to be the person and family you want to be in the future, all you have to do is start from now.
Enjoying time outside with the family, strength training and a regular short and sharp conditioning session is going to ensure that you stay as far away from the hospital as possible and can enjoy as much active time well into your life.
If you want to know how you can specifically apply your family to a program and what you need, read my blog about the 3 things that your family needs for healthy, happy tribe.
Until next time,