Friday Faculty Focus: Danae Dinkel


April 7th, 2017

Dr. Danae Dinkel poses for a photo. (Photo by Brandon McDermott)

KVNO reporter Brandon McDermott visited with Dr. Danae Dinkel on this week’s Friday Faculty Focus. Dinkel is an assistant professor at the Health Physical Education & Recreation building at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Brandon McDermott: Dr. Danae Dinkel thanks for coming on the show.

Dr. Danae Dinkel: Thank you for having me.

Brandon: Your research focuses on promotion of physical activity in girls. Why is it important to target girls, when it comes to promotion of physical activity?

Dr. Dinkel: If you look at any type of research, girls are typically less active regardless of age, income level, race and ethnicity. This was the primary reason that I decided to go back to the research. I grew up in a very physically active family, I was very blessed to have parents who put me in a lot of activities and played sports throughout my entire life. I then graduated from college, got out into the real world and realized that not everybody likes physical activity.

In a program that I was volunteering at there were little girls who thought it was gross to get dirty or to sweat. I just knew the benefits I had from as child and how much that helped me not only physically but also with self-esteem and other types of areas of my life. I just want to figure out how to help other girls achieve those benefits as well.

Brandon: Through the years you’ve worked with a variety of community programs and organizations which encourage folks to be more active. Can you talk about the work that you put in there?

Dr. Dinkel: I’ve worked across the family life span. When I first started as a graduate assistant here at UNO, while I was getting my Masters and my Ph.D., I worked for a program called Healthy Families which is for kids who are overweight and obese and their families. We did a 12-week program at the time, it’s still out there and available to any families who might be looking for assistance in learning about nutrition and physical activity behaviors and to work together as a family.

Brandon: What obstacles do children face in being active – children say between the ages of 5 and 13 -in what ways can we work as parents to get them outside away from video games and the TV?

Dr. Dinkel: Life is definitely different for kids in that 5 to 13-year-old range than it ever was for me. I don’t feel like it’s been a long since I was 13-years-old, but it definitely has been some time. It’s so much more prevalent for kids to have iPads or laptops for school – so it’s really easy to throw the games on there and let them play that. As a as a parent of a two-year-old, I guess sometimes you just need a little downtime as a parent.

But, I think the thing is that we as parents also have to realize that in order to encourage our kids to be more active that we also need to cut down on our TV time we need to cut down on our screen time in general. It’s so easy to have your phone with you at all times and tell your kids to go outside and stand outside where they’re being active, but you’re scrolling through Facebook.

Brandon: How about the same question for older folks – when it comes to our older generation, or older generations, how can they help stay active as they age?

Dr. Dinkel: I think a huge part of that is thinking about physical activity. I personally dislike the word “exercise,” I think it has a lot of negative connotation, so if you say the word exercise to somebody – it’s like, ‘I have to sweat, I have to be bending over, I have to have specific equipment on, I need to have my gym shoes, I need to have my workout gear on,’ and it doesn’t need to be like that. Some people are going to love to go to the gym – and they’ll go to the gym, they love it, they love the social aspect.

My grandma is in her 80s – she does really well with going to the gym or finding friends to be active with her, so finding that social support can be really big. Sometimes it might be – if you’re dealing with different comorbidities or chronic diseases – just finding a doctor or a personal trainer who can kind of make sure that you’re doing things right. It might be a little bit – not necessarily painful – but uncomfortable when you start out, but kind of getting over that hump. I think also again just finding something that you enjoy.

If you think back to your childhood or a time in your life when you really enjoyed being active or doing things with your families and maybe you can find those same activities and do it in a modified way with your grandchildren or your grandchildren and your children in different ways like that. The way that you’re going to be able to stay active and want to be active is really finding something that you enjoy and often times I think we think that “tag” or something that is stuff for little kids – but you can play it as adults – it’s also really acceptable then to incorporate the kids in there too. Think of those games like hopscotch or being outside and blowing bubbles, things that you did as a kid and sharing that with other generations can be a way to help you be active as well.

Brandon: Dr. Danae Dinkel thank you for the time.

Dr. Dinkel: Thank you.

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