Reviewed by Renee Alli on February 09, 2012

Sources

Terri McFadden, MD; Pediatrician, Emory University American College of Sports Medicine, National Institutes of Health.

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Video Transcript

Narrator: When it comes to having fun, Madeline Girardot carves out her own niche but her vigorous workout is also modeling a healthy lifestyle that can last well into adult hood. Staying active is key to physical and mental health yet many kids aren't getting into the game. obesity and related illnesses like diabetes are skyrocketing among out youth.

Terri McFadden, MD: We're seeing now, in children who are six to eleven, obesity rates about 16 to 20 percent. And that rate has tripled, some people say quadrupled, depending on what data you use, in the last 30-years.

Narrator: A good deal of that data blames sedentary activity like watching TV.

Terri McFadden, MD: I have started to talk to families about having kids earn TV time and screen time rather than having it as an entitlement. That perhaps for every minute they spend outside playing some active game they earn time To actually spend time in front of the television.

Narrator: Physical activity also gives kids a way to hone motor skills such as hand-eye coordination and helps them build self-confidence.

Valeria Makeeva, Fencer: It teaches you persistence and, well, trying working hard for a goal — because in fencing it doesn't come at once you actually have to work for it and you work. For that in other aspects of your life too.

Terri McFadden, MD: Kids thrive from being an expert at something. I think families need to find the activities that work best for their children, be that fencing, be that dance, be that cheerleading even — you want the kids to be active. Kids can get outside and walk around the block with their parents. In addition to Being a great exercise it's a good quality time and a good quality interaction between the child and their parent.

Narrator: For WebMD, I'm Damon Meharg.