Kids and Exercise – the importance and when to start

The problem:
For many years health professionals, nutritionists, primary care providers, and government agencies have focused on the obesity trends of adults. Their focus has ranged from primary prevention, which is aimed at inhibiting the development of the disease, to early recognition of the disease and the development of the traditional healthcare model and philosophy.
But at the turn of the century, many found that the trends in childhood and adolescent obesity were increasing at an alarming rate and contributing to the many adverse health effects that these children were then developing as adults. Most clinical research agrees that well over half of overweight children will also be considered overweight as adults and in turn develop many of the associated health risks including diabetes mellitus, heart disease, and increased cholesterol.
The solution:
Decrease in exercise and physical activity is the second main contributing component to rising BMIs in a child. So, families should embrace their power to change unhealthy lifestyle habits. Start with swapping out screen time for exercise!
The specifics:
Studies show that starting around the age of five, children should aim for a minimum of 3-5 hours per week of moderate to vigorous activity. Put the focus on increasing both the quality and quantity of physical activity. If you’re able to walk together, go ahead and let them try jogging for intervals during the walk. If they don’t like jogging, have them bike or roller skate along with you while you prep for the big race!
The bonus:
Children who regularly participate in organized play and physical activity tend to make additional subsequent healthy choices! So, use the fuel analogy (like, say, the stuff that Lightning McQueen needs to make him go) to help teach your kids about healthy food choices that will fuel them for their exercises.

Want to learn more? Nurse Practitioner Kristen Richardson is an arthritis specialist with the BJC Medical Group office at Barnes-Jewish St. Peters Hospital. When not enjoying her own fitness time, she works hard to make sure that all her patients have healthy joints so that they can keep moving too! You can get more information about how to deal with problems with your joints or tips on how to keep them healthy by contacting her at 636-916-9020 or visiting