Weekly Health Watch with why kids need to get dirty to stay healthy, a health tip to stay motivated at the gym, new research on girls and obesity and more.

Dirt is a four-letter word to many moms, but letting your kids get dirty is actually good for them, according to a new report from the National Wildlife Federation, "The Dirt on Dirt: How Getting Dirty Outdoors Benefits Kids."


But here's a dirty little secret: Children who spend the better part of their free time in the company of their sterile hi-tech gadgets rather than playing outside are more vulnerable to obesity, ADHD, vitamin D deficiency and depression.


There's a growing body of research that suggests overprotecting kids from dirt and germs may actually inhibit their physical health and resilience.


* Children's stress levels fall within minutes of seeing green spaces, according to a 2004 study in the American Journal of Public Health.


* When children are exposed to germs and pathogens during infancy, their risk of cardiovascular inflammation in adulthood is reduced, according to a 2010 Northwestern University study.


* A friendly bacteria found in soil helps produce serotonin, which enhances feelings of well-being, much the same way that antidepressant drugs and exercise do, according to a 2007 Bristol University study.


While common-sense sanitation practices like washing hands and using hand sanitizer when necessary shouldn't stop, you'll be doing your children a favor if you encourage them to go outside and get dirty.


-- Family Features


New Research: Decrease in injury-related deaths


Death rates from unintentional injuries among children and adolescents from birth to age 19 declined by nearly 30 percent from 2000 to 2009. However, suffocation rates are on the rise, with a 54 percent increase in reported suffocation among infants less than 1. Poisoning death rates also increased, with a 91 percent increase among teens aged 15-19, largely due to prescription drug overdose.


-- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Did You Know?


About 1 in 1,000 people have a bleeding disorder. However, 75 percent receive inadequate treatment, no treatment or treatment that doesn’t work. -- CDC


Health Tip: Create a vision board


Chances are you have a few pictures of yourself that show off your best shape or your athletic prowess. Use those photos to create a vision board that motivates you to keep your commitment to the gym and exercise. You can use a bulletin board, whiteboard or "pin" it to a fitness board on Pinterest.com. Find some empowering quotes, too.


-- Life Fitness


Number to Know


2050: By 2050, the number of people affected by dementia is likely to rise to more than 70 percent. Worldwide, nearly 35.6 million people live with dementia. This number is expected to double by 2030.


— World Health Organization


Children’s Health: Social stressors put girls at risk


Researchers found that girls who experienced more than one social stressor at home –– maternal depressive symptoms, maternal substance use, intimate partner violence, housing insecurity, food insecurity or paternal incarceration –– were at increased risk of being obese by age 5. Girls with more than two stressors were at an even higher risk of becoming obese. No significant associations were noted among boys.


-- American Academy of Pediatrics


Senior Health: Older people sleep better


Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine conducted the world’s largest study of sleep quality and health, and they found that the older you are, the better you sleep. In fact, the study analyzed participants from 18 and older, and those in their 80s often had the fewest complaints of all.


-- AARP.org 


GateHouse News Service