Let's Get Our Kids More Active - Remember, Exercise is Medicine at all Ages!
Cycling CME - Exercise and Kids!
As many have discussed, lack of physical exercise and poor cardiorespiratory fitness are major public health concerns. This lack of fitness contributes to many of the chronic diseases that assault our patients and health care system daily: hypertension, obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, to name just a few. Unfortunately, the genesis of these diseases is often traced to unhealthy behaviors of children. Many children have already developed at least one of the risk factors for cardiovascular disease by age 12. This includes obesity, elevated cholesterol or high blood pressure. Unfortunately, this trend continues, as inactive kids become inactive adults. We all know exercise is important and childhood is a critical time to develop healthy behaviors such as regular exercise and proper diet to address these issues. As Bob Sallis has reminded us (2009), starting in the 5th century, Hippocrates discussed the importance of both food and exercise in maintaining optimal health. Let’s continue to be components of this mantra.
The benefits of exercise are so obvious, they may be overlooked in our procedural and pharmaceutical driven health care system. Physical activity helps control weight, reduces blood pressure, improves lipid profiles, reduces the risk of developing diabetes and improves bone health. In addition, exercise decreases risk of depression and improves cognition. Sibey (2003) et al concluded there is a significant positive improvement in perceptual skills, academic achievement and academic performance associated with exercise in children. Given all these findings, health care providers have an obligation to talk to their patients of the benefits to exercise!
Despite the obvious importance of exercise, the rate of physical activity continues to decrease. During a 7-day survey in 2013, only 29% of high school students participated in 60 or more minutes of physical activity over 7 days. In addition, 15% of the students had not participated in 60 minutes of physical activity on any day during the 7 days of the survey. Less than 45% of high school students attended physical education classes during an average week and the percentages have decreased significantly over the last few decades. (CDC)
Given all these findings, let’s be vocal proponents of physical activity in children. As health care providers, we are an important part of the dynamics of many families. Let’s remind them that exercise will help their children in the following ways:
1. Maintain stronger muscles and bones
2. Maintain more optimal body weight
3. Improve performance and concentration in school
4. Decrease risk for cardiovascular disease
5. Decrease the chance of Diabetes
6. Improve outlook on life
7. And on and on it goes
Let us be vocal advocates of exercise for the children in our care at every visit!
May 28, 2015 - Cycling CME
Baranowski et al. Assessment, prevalence and cardiovascular benefits of physical activity in Youth
Sallis RE. Exercise is medicine and physicians need to prescribe it. BJSM 2009