In today’s society, parents are faced with many choices when it comes to extra-curricular activities for their children. It seems that children are often over-scheduled, bouncing constantly from soccer, to baseball, to music lessons, to theater class, to dance, gymnastics, and swimming. Many children are becoming a jack-of-all-trades, yet a master of nothing. As your children approach the tween years and the teenage years, it is beneficial to start narrowing down the variety of extra-curricular classes, thus allowing your children adequate practice time each week for a couple of select activities. Doing so allows your child to excel in those particular classes and to master those particular areas of expertise. In looking at the myriad of activities to choose from, aquatic sports are definitely worth a second look, whether it be competitive swimming, water polo, diving, synchronized swimming, etc. There are many benefits of being involved in aquatics.
There are few sports that can teach self-discipline better than swimming can. From waking up at 5:00am for morning practices, to swimming that extra 100 yards, when it feels that your body cannot do even one more stroke, to doing hypoxic training in order to increase lung capacity, swimming teaches people that they can have mind over matter. This self-discipline carries over into academics and work ethics as well. The majority of swimmers excel in school, and as they get older they excel in the work-force as well. Scientists have even done studies that prove that swimmers tend to score higher in mathematical reasoning skills than non-swimmers do.
Many people think that the word “teamwork” being associated with aquatics seems counterintuitive; however this is simply not the case. In sports such as water polo and synchronized swimming, teamwork is absolutely essential. Water polo players have to constantly be aware of each other, just like basketball and soccer players do, and synchronized swimmers must not only be aware of each other but they must become one unit with each other, moving seamlessly together in perfect timing. Competitive speed swimmers must work together in relay races and each must contribute his or her very best to the team. Again, this teamwork mentality helps swimmers to excel in both academics and later on in the work-force.
Swimming is a low-impact exercise, which helps people to develop long-lean muscles. It is easy on the joints, and promotes heart health. Swimming is also great for the respiratory system, and doctors even recommend swimming for people who suffer with asthma. Many aquatic sports are actually considered both an aerobic exercise and an anaerobic exercise.
It is a little-known fact that aquatic scholarships are some of the easiest scholarships to get. This is due in part to the fact that swimming is a niche sport. There are fewer people competing for the same number of scholarships compared to other sports such as football, baseball, etc. Colleges such as Stanford, Perdue, UCLA, Texas A&M, and many others often award substantial scholarships to swimmers, thus significantly alleviating the college-debt burden for many families.
Aquatics is one of the fastest growing sports in existence today. In fact, Nielsen Estimates reported that 4.7 billion people tuned in to watch swimming in the last Olympics, compared to 120 million people who tuned in to watch the Super Bowl this year. The benefits of swimming are numerous, thus parents should definitely consider aquatics, when choosing their child’s extra-curricular activities.
Katrina Brandhagen is the Owner/Director of All Star Swim Academy in Henderson. For more information on swim lessons for students of all ages and abilities call 702-565-3824 or visit www.allstarswimacademy.com.
The number of us with allergies is increasing and there are now 50 million Americans alone who have some form of allergy. Although it’s more common for allergic reactions to develop in children, sensitivities can develop at any age, and they can range from mild to life-threatening. With thousands of known allergens, people can react to everything from pollen, plants and animal hairs to food, drugs and even metals. Despite this diversity of reactions, some allergies are a lot more common than others. Here we take a look which allergies occur most often, what causes them and why allergies are on the increase. As you’ll see though, with some lifestyle adjustments it’s possible to successfully manage allergies and it may also be possible to reduce the risk of your children developing them.
Which allergies occur most often?
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, the most common allergy is to triggers in your indoor or outdoor environment, which affects around 40 million Americans. Based on statistics from the American Academy of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology, hay fever, which is an allergy to pollen from grass, weeds and trees, affects close to 8% of adults and 10% of children in the US. However, pet hair, moulds and dust mites are also a common cause of allergies around the home. While these contribute to the greatest number of allergies among adults, skin allergies are more common in children, affecting around 13% of under 18s in America. Although thousands of skin allergies exist, the skin of children and adults commonly reacts to plants, fragrances used in items such as soaps and cosmetics, metals, dust mites, animal hair and latex.
Children are also more likely to have food allergies, which affect around 8% of children compared to just 2% of adults, as it is often the case that youngsters outgrow their sensitivity to certain foods. Interestingly, close to a third of children with food allergies react to more than one food, which can make managing their multiple food allergies more complex for parents. As the FDA explains, milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soya, wheat and shellfish are responsible for more than 90% of food allergies in America, though more than 150 other foods can also trigger a reaction. However, it’s important to distinguish between food allergies and food intolerances, as while the latter produces unpleasant symptoms, they usually develop slowly, are not life-threatening and normally allow you to tolerate a given amount of the food in question.
As many as 10% of us may also have an allergy to medication, though most of us are oblivious to this fact, only finding out when we are prescribed the drug for the first time. Finally, Government information tells us that about 3% of adults and 2% of children are allergic to insect stings, including bees, wasps, yellow jacket and ants. Although it’s most common to experience pain and reddening of the skin site with an insect sting allergy, a small number of people develop a severe reaction, which can prove fatal.
Why do allergies develop?
While it is our immune system’s job to attack bacteria, viruses and other microbes, as the University of Rochester explains, some people are particularly sensitive to other physical factors within the environment and mount an attack against these allergens. This causes the immune system to produce increased numbers of white blood cells and antibodies. The next time the allergen is inhaled, eaten or comes into contact with the skin, the immune system recognizes it as a threat and antibodies bind with the allergen particles. Our bodies then release histamine, a natural chemical which is responsible for the allergy symptoms you develop. Although it isn’t known exactly why some people develop allergies and others don’t, if your parents have allergies, you are more prone to develop them. Having asthma or eczema also increases your risk of allergies too.
Why are allergies now more common?
Some researchers suggest that there is not a true rise in the number of us with allergies, it simply appears that way owing to the greater awareness of allergies among the public and healthcare staff, leading to greater reporting and diagnosis. However, it is unlikely that this can explain the rate at which allergies are rising, with significant rises in allergy numbers reported by the CDC over little more than a decade.
Although there are several theories for why more of us have allergies these days, one of the most popular is known as the “hygiene hypothesis”. While this cannot necessarily account for the rise in all types of allergy, as the University of California discusses, it is relevant to allergies involving food, pollen and other environmental components. According to this hypothesis, changes to our environment means we are now exposed to fewer germs during our early years, which affects the way our immune system develops, making our bodies sensitive to substances that do not actually pose a threat to us. Factors such as reduced family size, living in urban environments, overly clean homes and overuse of antibiotics may all make us more susceptible to allergies.
How are allergies treated?
Although there is no cure for allergies, the best way to avoid a reaction is to prevent contact with the known triggers if possible. While this is manageable with a food allergy – even if this means carefully checking all food labels, avoiding cross-contamination and taking extra precautions when eating out – this is not as easy when an allergen is present in the wider environment. As the National Institutes of Health informs us, taking antihistamines can help you treat the symptoms if you come into contact with the allergen. Antihistamines are available as tablets, eye drops, nasal sprays and even injections for more severe cases. However, if it’s not possible to avoid the allergen, you may also want to discuss having an allergy shot with your doctor. With more severe reactions that lead to anaphylactic shock, the American Academy of Family Physicians advises you will also need to carry an EpiPen with you, as this delivers a life-saving shot of epinephrine, which opens up your airway and helps to regulate your circulation. It’s also important to wear a bracelet or necklace advising of your allergy in case you aren’t able to administer your own epinephrine.
The Valley Health System urges all Southern Nevada residents to protect their health by reading the following heat safety tips, and learning the signs of heat illness.
- Stay inside during the hottest parts of the day; run your errands in the early morning or later evening.
- If you are outside, wear light-colored, loose fitting clothing, a hat and sunscreen. Protect your feet by using sunscreen and wearing water shoes or flip flops.
- Cool your car as much as possible. Crack the windows for ventilation. Cover your steering wheel and car seats so they are cooler to touch. Protect your hands when touching door handles or opening/closing the trunks.
- Some medications may cause you to be more susceptible to the heat. Listen to your body and don’t push yourself.
- The very young and the elderly are more susceptible to heat; keep a close watch on younger children and create a communication plan with older relatives and friends so they know how to reach you in case of emergencies.
- Protect your skin. Wear hats or use umbrellas to fend off the harsh sun rays. Replenish sunscreen to avoid sunburns. Be sure to apply sunscreen to scalps, tips of ears, tops of feet and whatever your clothes or bathing suit doesn’t cover. Don’t forget the back of your neck, arms and legs.
- Schedule hydration breaks throughout the day. When playing outdoors, it’s important to take water breaks every 20 to 30 minutes. Because our perspiration evaporates so quickly in Southern Nevada, we may not be aware of our water loss, so set the alarm on your phone to remind you to take a drink. Always bring extra water when running errands.
- Think before you drink. Water is the best source to rehydrate your body and, if you are actively exercising, sports beverages can help replace the salt and minerals lost during exercise. Alcohol and soda can dehydrate the body, so sip those in moderation during the summer months. Take advantage of water-based foods such as watermelon, cucumbers, zucchini and tomatoes to keep hydrated.
- Beat the heat and stay cooler by seeking shade, wearing a hat or carrying an umbrella, placing a cold towel around your neck and behind your knees, running your wrists under cold water, sitting in front of a fan, jumping in a swimming pool or taking a cool bath or shower.
- Know the signs and symptoms of heat illness:
- muscle cramping
- heavy sweating
- cold, pale and clammy skin
- a fast but weak pulse
- nausea or vomiting.
What to do: immediately take steps to cool down the body and if they don’t feel better, seek immediate medical attention.
- a body temperature above 103 degrees
- hot, red, dry or moist skin
- a rapid and strong pulse
- possible unconsciousness.
What to do: Immediate medical attention required. Call 911. Take steps to cool the body but do not give the person fluids.
Youth sports provide an exceptional opportunity to not only help our kids become more complete as players in whatever given sport they choose to engage in, more importantly, it provides many opportunities for personal growth, and a sure way, with proper care, personal attention, and inspirational guidance, to become more complete as people – the young men and women they are becoming.
With Game Time Basketball Camps, we have an exceptional basketball program. One of the finest you will find in the world. It is basketball instruction tailored to the individual level of players we serve. From beginners who have never played to seasoned advanced players.
But it is beyond just basketball.
We have learned through many years of experience, how to challenge each player just right at their level, so they learn their way, they become engaged, inspired, and then even begin to reach out to help others, while having lots of fun doing just that.
Come and join us in that process, in our shared mission with you the parents, and help your kids get better today as a player and a person.
Coach Gil Llewellyn
Owner & Founder
Coach David Vik
Regional Camp Director