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During the past 30 years, childhood obesity has increased by 30%, and is likely to continue at this alarming rate without appropriate intervention on the part of parents. With less frequent physical education classes, shorter duration recess periods, and more classroom time, we cannot expect our schools to effectively address the serious issues associated with physical inactivity among pre-adolescent and teenage youth.

Although some children play active sports such as soccer and basketball, and others perform vigorous recreational activities such as swimming and skiing, the majority pursue passive pastimes, such as computer games and texting. While it is undoubtedly too challenging to completely change our youth culture, there are some relatively simple things that parents can do to help their sons and daughters become more physically fit.

Perhaps the best approach that I have seen is the one presented in this book. The training program and teaching techniques so clearly discussed in the conversational tone of Abbie Gets Fit provides an excellent model for parents to safely and successfully enhance their children’s fitness. Just as important as the impressive physical outcomes, the together time experienced by Doug Werner and his daughter Abbie make this effective exercise program one that every parent should consider.

—Dr. Wayne L. Westcott, Ph.D., CSCS

  • Healthy American Fitness Leader Award, 1995,
    President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports
  • Lifetime Achievement Award, 1993, IDEA:
    International Association of Fitness Professionals
  • Fitness Research Director, Quincy College
    Quincy, Massachusetts


The sedentary character of modern life is a disruption of our nature, and it poses one of the biggest threats to our continued survival. Evidence of this is everywhere: 65 percent of our nation’s adults are overweight or obese, and 10 percent of the population has type 2 diabetes, a preventable and ruinous disease that stems from inactivity and poor nutrition. Once an affliction almost exclusively of the middle-aged, it’s now becoming an epidemic among children. We’re literally killing ourselves and it’s a problem throughout the developed world, not merely a province of the supersize life-style in the United States. What’s even more disturbing, and what virtually no one recognizes, is that inactivity is killing our brains too—physically shriveling them.

—Dr. John J. Ratey, MD

  • Author, Spark—The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain


Overweight and obese children are discriminated against and teased by their peers more than children of normal weight, leading to isolation and depression. This is associated with a greater frequency of suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts. Overweight youth may become preoccupied with their body weight, which may lead to eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia. Isolated children are more likely not to have other kids to play or exercise with.

—Paula Quinene

  • Author, Obesity in Children and Exercise,
    June 19, 2010
  • Read more: Livestrong.com


Walking, like other exercise, can help you achieve a number of important health benefits. Walking can help you:

  • Lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol)
  • Raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the "good" cholesterol)
  • Lower your blood pressure
  • Reduce your risk of, or manage, type 2 diabetes
  • Manage your weight
  • Improve your mood
  • Stay strong and fit

All it takes to reap these benefits is a routine of brisk walking. It doesn't get much simpler than that. And you can forget the "no pain, no gain" talk. Research shows that regular, brisk walking can reduce the risk of heart attack by the same amount as more vigorous exercise, such as jogging.

The Benefits of Walking
The Mayo Clinic Staff
Read more: MayoClinic.com


Youth Physical Activity: The Role of Families

Being physically active is one of the most important steps to being healthy. Families play an important role in helping youth learn to be active and stay active throughout their lives. How Does Physical Activity Help?

  1. Builds strong bones and muscles.
  2. Decreases the likelihood of developing obesity and risk factors for diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
  3. May reduce anxiety and depression and promote positive mental health.

Read more: US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Get Active

Physical activity is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle. In combination with healthy eating, it can help prevent a range of chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer, and stroke, which are the three leading causes of death. Physical activity helps control weight, builds lean muscle, reduces fat, promotes strong bone, muscle and joint development, and decreases the risk of obesity. Children need 60 minutes of play with moderate to vigorous activity every day to grow up to a healthy weight.

Read more: Let's Move - America's Move to Raise a Healthier Generation of Kids

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