Chiropractor and gym co-owner Stacy Irvine dishes out answers to your fitness and nutrition questions. Check back soon as we add new Q&As to our ongoing gallery.
A version of this article appeared in our December 2012 issue with the headline "You asked," p.78.
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Q: My four-year-old just finished a season of baseball and soccer, and now we’re moving on to hockey. I’m worried it’s too much. Is there such a thing as too much fitness for a kid this age?
— APRIL PATCH
A: Many children in this age group, especially boys, seem to be in perpetual motion all day. The most valuable activity is free play, which allows them to learn coordination, balance, socialization and creative thinking. You don’t need to be concerned about too much physical activity, unless you think he’s over-programmed. If he complains about going to all his practices and games, it can be a sign of overactivity. But if he’s having a great time, just make sure he gets enough sleep at night.
Q: What’s a good routine to build core strength after a C-section?
— HOLLY LAROCHELLE
A: Before you start thinking about core strength, it’s important that your body has recovered and your incision has healed. Regular daily activities, including lifting your baby, will engage your core already. Walking is a great exercise to start with, you can begin as soon as you feel comfortable and pain-free. Around six weeks, I recommend a visit with a well-qualified fitness professional who has experience training women post C-section. There’s a specific series of gentle exercises called hypopresives, which are designed to strengthen your pelvic floor and diaphragm. It’s a fantastic way to get your core musculature working again, without the risk of injury that can come with more aggressive core training techniques like abdominal crunches.
Q: How much exercise is recommended for a two- and-a-half-year-old child?
— JULIE JAMES
A: 60 to 90 minutes of activity a day is a good guideline for all children. For a two-and- a-half-year-old, this can be a bit challenging because they’re too young for most organized sports. Instead, walk to the grocery store or to a local playground (take a wagon along if they’re too tired to walk home). Each time you do this, they’ll be able to walk a bit farther. Swimming and gymnastics are also great activity options for kids.
Q: I have adopted a flexitarian diet and am eating meat only on the weekend. Are there any restrictions for children?
— ROBYN GILBEY
A: Most research indicates a diet with fewer meat products is healthier for everyone. Ensure there are enough healthy fats and protein in your diet, and if you feel you’re lacking something, you can supplement with fish oil and possibly a multivitamin. I find that smoothies (incorporating a vegetarian protein) are a great way to get everyone’s nutritional needs in, and kids love them. Discuss the decision with your children so that they understand why you’re doing it. When they’re on playdates or invited over for dinner with a friend, they’ll be able to articulate what types of food they prefer. (We also suggest that you speak to your doctor before introducing a new diet.)
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