Now that school is out for the summer, there are many kids that are very, very happy. And while you might be thinking that I am overstating the obvious…I’m not.
Because while every kid is glad summer means no more school; others are ecstatic because no more school also means no more bullying – at least for the next three months or so.
Yes my faithful, bullying is a real problem of epidemic proportion.
According the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, each day an estimated 160,000 American kids refuse to go to school because they are afraid of being verbally and or physically harassed by their fellow students and sometimes even their teachers. Many others attend school in a chronic state of anxiety and depression; and approximately 60 percent of American youth witness bullying at least once a day.
I know I am neither a psychiatrist nor a psychologist, but I do know what it feels like to be bullied and how to HELP overcome it. Granted, the bullying I, and maybe some of you, experienced or even bestowed on others when we were younger (hopefully) wasn’t nearly to level seemingly reported daily in the news today…but the effects are the same.
Victims avoid going to school, as mentioned, as well as suffer headaches and stomach aches; have a reduced appetite; experience aggression and depression; and often turn to violence on themselves or others in despair or as a form of retaliation.
So how does all this fit into a Body Designs? Well, one way victims can help “repel” bullies is to develop a positive body image and high self-esteem. It is no secret that bullies prey on those who they consider the emotionally, mentally and or physically weak. Now I am NOT saying that it is the victim’s fault. I am NOT! What I am saying is that when a bully senses there is someone he or even she can “conquer” their site locks and they move in.
It’s like in the wild when a lion attacks a herd of prey. It doesn’t go after the biggest, strongest and fastest. It attacks the little one that trails behind and can’t keep up.
So what is a parent (which I am not) or a mentor (maybe) to do? Well, first kids must KNOW that they are worthy of “respect” no matter how tall or short, heavy or thin, dark or light, or just different they may be compared to their peers. Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done. Next they need to feel good about themselves from within themselves.
As clients and readers, by now you should all know all of the benefits of exercise. And they include “building” a positive self-image and “increasing” one’s self-esteem no matter how young or old you are. And in case you’ve forgotten, here’s a quick review on how that is achieved mentally as well as physically.
Mentally: Exercise causes the body to release endorphins that interact with receptors in the brain that reduce the perception of “pain” whether physical or mental. Also, by mimicking the effect of morphine in the body, they also contribute to what is known as a “runner’s high” or the “euphoric” feeling often experienced during or after a training session. All this leads to an overwhelming sense of “joy”, minimizing any sense of depression or anxiety. Therefore, the more consistent the “stimulus” of exercise is repeated, the more positive the “trainee” becomes.
Physically: The obvious long-term physical benefit of resistance training is hypertrophy (muscle growth). However, even though new studies have shown that weight-bearing exercises can be performed by “trainees” as young as seven to 12 years old, any improvements in strength are NOT a result of building muscle. Rather, they are a result of neurological adaptation. Meaning that the body’s central nervous system gets used to the external stimulus and adapts, becomes coordinated and thus “stronger”. And I can tell you from experience that if I had been “training” at THAT early of an age, I would have certainly limited those physically “awkward” years.
So remember, resistance training, nutrition and cardiovascular exercise doesn’t only affect one’s physical characteristics. It also produces internal changes that are often times more difficult to measure yet more meaningful to achieve. Take it from your trainer, I was not the best jock in high school. I didn’t even start “lifting” until I graduated college. I wish I began sooner. As many of you know and can see, it has truly changed my life.
Am I saying that you should force your child to be the next Rocky, Bruce Lee or Arnold? Of course not. I am saying be sensible and have your kids participate in a true and complete exercise and nutrition program that can develop their emotional as well as their physical strength.
And, by all means, if you think your child is the target of a bully or becoming one him or herself, get involved before it’s too late.