Bloomington, IL,
10:44 AM

Our Kids Need to Get Moving, or It will Cost Us

Inactivity in American children could cost billions over a lifetime

A new study, published in the journal Health Affairs has attached a hefty price tag to the issue of inactivity in American children.

According to the study, only about 40% of children get 25 minutes of high-calorie-burning physical activity three times a week, which could result in $1.1 trillion in direct medical costs over the course of their lifetimes.

This is something Erin Kennedy, OSF HealthCare Center for Healthy Lifestyles Manager, says could be changed with a little early intervention.

“Exercise should be fun, and when you start at a young age it will not become a chore, but it will be something that people look forward to,” she said. “That’s what our communities need. We need to want to be physically active, and want to be outside of that house.”

Erin Kennedy 3

Researchers came to these findings by developing a simulation model to represent all U.S. children ages 8 to 11 years old. These kids are often sedentary at school, with physical education and recess time shortening, or in some cases disappearing altogether.

According to Kennedy, when classroom activity doesn’t cut it, the responsibility rests at home.

“It’s the parents who have to take the ownership and have the kids go outside,” said Kennedy "And not only ‘Hey kids. Go outside and play.’, but you know what? This is good family time. We are going to spend an hour a day after dinner, before dinner, whatever it may be, and we’re going to play together.”

Erin Kennedy 2

It’s never too late to start making your family’s health and well-being a priority with some extra activity. Kennedy says the time to start is now.

“We always start from today,” she said. “We think, ‘what can we do today that is better than yesterday?’ As long as we have that thought process in mind, it doesn’t matter what happened in the past. Starting forward and looking forward and saying, ‘Today I’m going to make a difference.’.”

Erin Kennedy 4

The Center for Healthy Lifestyles is located at OSF HealthCare St. Joseph Medical Center. It aims to help community members achieve healthier behaviors and make informed health care decisions through education, counseling and diagnostic services.