Daddy, Is This Exercise?

Richard A. Howard, MD
Medical Director, Cardiovascular Lab
Broward Health
North Broward Medical Center

I recently purchased my daughter a bicycle. I bought it used, on Craigslist (This is not an advertisement for Craigslist, I’m just a spendthrift and they have some great deals!). We were riding around the neighborhood, she on her used bike and me on the bike I bought in college. She was clearly enjoying herself. She suddenly turned to me and asked in an uncertain and inquisitive tone, tinged with surprise “Daddy, is this exercise?!?” I assured her it was and that exercise, perish the thought, could actually be ENJOYABLE. But it got me thinking…

We have evolved into a culture that takes the easy way. We take the elevator instead of the stairs. We drive down the block to the store rather than walk. We play tennis inside on Nintendo rather than outside on a real court. In fact, when was the last time you saw your neighbors and their children outside playing? Probably following the last series of hurricanes! That, my friends and patients is one reason why our American waistlines are bulging. We all have seen epidemic of obesity in our society. 66% of all adults are overweight and 25% are obese. The epidemic begins earlier in life however. In a Time magazine cover story from June 2008, it was revealed that 32% (that’s one in three!) of all American children are overweight and around 15% are OBESE. No wonder we now find ourselves prescribing blood pressure medicine and cholesterol lowering medicine to our children! And no wonder I find myself treating heart attacks and placing stents in younger and younger patients (more on this in a later blog). Being overweight creates hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and diabetes in adults and children too. Staying active burns calories, keeps the weight off and can actually cure hypertension and diabetes.

We have unfortunately, as a culture, accepted obesity as being OK for ourselves. We shouldn’t however accept this for our children. We need to be positive role models for our children in all aspects of their lives. Show them how to swing a baseball bat, kick a soccer ball, take the stairs, walk to the store, and even ride a bike! You can get some great deals if you know where to look and get your kids (and yourself) active in the process. We owe it to them and may even enjoy it ourselves. And you don’t need to wait for the next hurricane either.


3 Responses to “Daddy, Is This Exercise?”

  1. Nancy Brown Says:

    An alarming 25% of all kids get no daily exercise! Check out The site serves up a free and fun daily, video workout each day. It’s all free and kids earn points they can redeem for prizes. It’s really a great new tool kids, parents and educators should be aware of.

  2. Adam Says:

    Yes, exercise can be fun – you’ve just got to find an activity you like. (for me, a treadmill or stairclimber is torture). And being in shape makes you feel better, preform better, and look better, too.

    On the other hand, this generation is producing a bumper crop of obese kids – and for some industries, that means “job security”.

  3. christine bucan Says:

    Great post and very true! We live in a condo and I always used that as an excuse for not going out and playing with my kids. But, we recently discovered how much fun it is to kick a soccer ball around the pool area. We make goals posts with the chairs and get quite competitive. It’s great exercise and my kids love spending time with me.

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