In mid-October 2016, my travels took me to the Midwest and St. Louis, Missouri. I was there to give a keynote talk at the annual meeting of an organization called Parents as Teachers (PAT). This is an amazing organization that promotes the optimal early development, learning and health of young children by supporting and engaging their parents and caregivers. They do this by providing an evidence-based, research-informed home visiting model and by being a center for innovation in promising practices to meet the evolving needs of families to help them raise successful children. They work with an internationally recognized network of organizations and professionals to support thousands of families in all 50 states, as well as many other countries, through a proven parent education model, featuring intimate in-home visits with parents and children.
I spoke to this group about the many and varied health benefits of physical activity in kids. I also told them about what I see as a real paradox with regards to youth sports and physical activity in children today. While too many kids are sedentary and often on a path to developing chronic diseases at a young age, the kids who are doing regular exercise are often playing on multiple teams and in multiple games, which can lead to overuse injuries and burnout with sports. We seem to have lost that middle ground where kids play sports for fun and socialization, rather than to try and compete for a scholarship. It’s important to remember the goal for all kids should be 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise each day, with half of that time spent doing vigorous activity. Kids should also engage in both muscle and bone strengthening exercises on at least 3 days each week, as part of the 60 minutes each day.
I was excited by the response I got to this message, from both conference attendees and from the senior leadership of the PAT organization. They seemed to be in complete agreement with my message and committed the organization to putting a new focus on promoting physical activity to both the parents and children they serve.
Of course, while I was in St. Louis I made sure to get my walking in each day. The weather was unseasonably warm and beautiful, which allowed me the chance to get in some great walks outdoors. I particularly enjoyed walking by the famous Arch and doing a walking tour of the Busch Brewing Company. St. Louis is a very walkable city and has some great sites to see via walking.
I hope this blog finds you healthy and walking every day. Keep walking my friends!