Jun 1, 2010

Kids Say No to Physical Activity

When I was a child, we played outside all day in the summer and all afternoon after school days. No one I knew went home and watched TV and, of course, there were no video games. It was a simpler time.

While this observation dates me, I had no idea of the extent that kids these days don’t do anything physical until I ran across some statistics that gave me cause for concern.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 62 percent of kids ages 9 to 13 don’t participate in any organized physical activity and 23 percent don’t participate in any free-time physical activity. No wonder youth obesity rates, and along with it, type 2 diabetes in children, have risen. In Texas, for example, about 20 to 30 percent of children ages 10 to 17 are considered overweight or obese.

The CDC data, from 2007, also point out that as children get older, their level of physical activity goes down: Only 17 percent of high school students participated in at least 60 minutes of physical activity on any given day and only 30 percent attended Phys Ed class daily, the CDC said. When I was in high school, we had PE every day or else you played a sport.

Boosting physical activity

Dr. Jon Oden, a pediatric endocrinologist at Children’s Medical Center who works in the Center for Obesity and its Consequences in Health (COACH) Clinic, had this advice for increasing physical activity in your child’s daily life:

  • Model good behavior as a parent by leading an active lifestyle.
    • Make family time physical activity time.
    • Help to facilitate physical activity among your child’s friends.
    • Limit TV, computer and video game time to no more than 2 hours a day.
    • Work with your schools to increase physical activity opportunities.
    • Work with your community to ensure there are places where children can be physically active.

If we all work together, maybe parents, schools and communities can help resolve this literally growing problem.