Meet Mark

Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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Category: Raising Healthy Children

Are Your Children Sleep-Deprived?

It’s about that time: the start of the school year. Bleary-eyed kids everywhere are dragged from bed, thrown into clothing, handed an energy bar and glass of juice, and shuttled off to spend hours sitting at a desk. They come home, do hours of homework, squeeze in some screen time, squeeze some vaguely edible goo into their mouths, update their Facebook status, post a few Instagram pics, and climb into bed by 10 PM sharp, Snapchatting their way to the land of Nod. Then it starts all over again.
I’m exaggerating, a bit. Things aren’t this bad—childhood Facebook usage is actually down! But too many children aren’t getting enough sleep.

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How Much Exercise Do Kids Need? Plus, 30 Activities to Get Them Moving

There’s good news and bad news. The bad news is that kids aren’t getting enough physical activity.

Inadequate amounts of physical activity are a strong risk factor for obesity and metabolic dysfunction in kids.  It’s most likely causal, too, because as much as people question the usefulness of only exercising to lose weight, there’s no question that exercise and physical activity in general is important for preventing obesity from occurring. 

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Primal Starter: Talking to Kids About Health

It’s pretty easy for kids to grow up not having a clear understanding of health. Hey, most adults don’t get it either. If I’m not sick, I must be healthy, right? Health as a concept can be a random swirl of disconnected images for kids: food pyramids, sweaty gyms, sports icons, a salad bar. How do they put it together? What does it mean to be healthy? To feel healthy?

In the vast array of images and messages out there, kids have to be pretty thrown by the paradoxical shape of it all. On the one hand, there’s infinite fun to be had in downing every variety of fast food, sodas, energy drinks, chips and other snack abominations (just look at the youth-centered commercials). On the other, there are tabloid articles about celebrity crash diets and stories of their three hour a day workout routines. Our culture encourages either disregarding or punishing the body—making a joke of physical health or exercising/depriving ourselves into the ground. The result? As a culture, we don’t have the most comfortable relationships with our bodies. It’s little surprise that many of our kids absorb this mindset.

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10 Basic Human Skills the Younger Generation Isn’t Learning

There are many reasons to be thankful for the cushy existence modernity affords us. War and other extenuating circumstances aside, you probably don’t fear for your life on a daily basis. You have clean water to drink. Food is widely available, and it’s affordable. You survived infancy, childhood, and adolescence, which is quite special on a historical scale.

But there are downsides. Food has gone industrial. We increasingly live our lives in the digital realm and ignore the physical. Perhaps the most recent change relative to that shift has been the physical neutering of our kids. This has happened more broadly across all ages as countries shift away from manual labor toward more of an information economy, but it’s become incredibly pronounced in the generation coming up. At least when I grew up kids still wandered the streets in search of adventure, testing themselves out physically, undergoing mental and physical challenges, breaking bones and straining muscles, and learning about movement from the best teacher of all—hands on experience. Now? The lucky ones will get gymnastics or martial arts or dance training a couple days a week. But most languish indoors, prevented from the kind of free-form exploratory play human children have enjoyed for thousands of generations.

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Dear Mark: Better Rest, and a Parent’s Nightmare: Tablets and Pickiness

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering two questions from readers. First, does “better rest” exist? I think it does, and I give the two “types” of rest I find to be the most effective. Second, a parent writes in with two common issues—pickiness at the dinner table and an obsession with tablets. What can a parent do to deal with a kid who only wants pasta and rice? And how to handle tablet obsession?

Let’s go:

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The Definitive Guide to Children’s Nutrition

Feeding infants is quite simple. There’s a ton riding on you getting it right, of course—a developing immune system, the fact that the kid’s growing an inch a week, a permeable blood-brain barrier, synaptic pruning—but the answer is usually always “feed them more breastmilk.” Even if you can’t nurse, you’ve got formula, which, for all its limitations, is a decent proxy for breastmilk and getting better all the time. Feeding children, however, is a different ballgame altogether.

I’ve gotten a lot of requests for a post about children’s nutrition, so it’s long overdue. When it comes down to brass tacks, kids really are just small people. They aren’t a different species. They use the same nutrients their parents do. They need protein, fat, and glucose just like us. So in that sense, feeding kids is simple: Give them all the nutritious foods you already eat and know to be healthy.

But it’s not easy.

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