It’s a common sight to see adults working up a sweat at the gym, but now the clientele is getting younger as the nation fights the childhood obesity epidemic.
Doctors say one out of three school age kids are overweight or obese. Those are national statistics, but Iowa pediatricians say it’s a big concern because the Hawkeye state is following that trend. And, they say all kids need to exercise daily, no matter how much they weigh.
Kids at the Altoona Campus are moving. Personal Trainer Pat Smith says, “Alright let’s get warmed up.”
He teaches a six week youth hip hop class for kids 6 to 12. Nine-year-old participant Katalina Medina says, “It’s really fun. I like doing it a lot.”
Seven-year-old Gwen Willeford says, “It’s like Just Dance, playing it for a while.”
For 45 minutes once a week, these kids trade in the video games and just dance for real. Smith says, “There’s no pressure to do anything correctly. It’s just move around. Go nuts.”
Smith teaches a couple classes for kids at the campus. He says it’s important for people to move their muscles at early age, and he has to get creative to get them moving. He says, “You’ve got to match their energy levels all the time in order to keep up with kids. You’ve got to kind of let go and be a kid yourself.”
Whether it’s dancing or doing sports, doctors say it’s just important kids do something fun and age appropriate. Dr. Amy Shriver with Blank Children’s Pediatric Clinic says, “The way you should approach physical activity is based on your child’s developmental level. You want to focus on what motor skills they’re actually able to do.”
Dr. Shriver says the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends all kids exercise an hour a day. And, your kids should never go more than hour without moving around. She says, “You need to find ways to play with your children and make sure they see you playing and exercising so that becomes part of their lifestyle on a regular basis.”
That’s something the kids in the hip-hop class say they’re already learning, as they get an early start to a lifetime of healthy habits.
In addition to exercise, Dr. Shriver says kids need to eat well and get enough sleep. She says those are the three keys to establishing a healthy lifestyle at an early age.