Our job as pediatrics is to care for the wellness of your child inside and out. Part of that challenge includes keeping kids fit and active, a lofty feat in this modern age of iPads and endless Netflix shows to marathon. Perhaps the answer is simply to prescribe kids more exercise!
In a recent story posted on NPR, Washington D.C.’s Dr. Robert Zarr instructed his 13-year-old patient, Kelssi Aguilar, to get off the school bus earlier. Zarr is a pediatrician through Unity Health Care who has a penchant for adopting new experimental forms of treatment designed to engage kids.
Kelssi was less than enthused by the advice of her pediatrician, believing she would be late in the time it took to walk the four blocks to school. Ironically, Kelssi wound up arriving to school ten minutes earlier than usual the first day she followed the doc’s orders.
At the time Kelssi was instructed to start walking part of the way to school she was clinically obese. At the time this story was published, Kelssi was considered only slightly overweight – a critical improvement in her health.
Zarr reports that as much as 40% of of his patients are overweight or obese. This moderate epidemic has encouraged Zarr to explore new and specific ways to tailor fitness advice to kids, including mapping out every park in the District of Colombia – a list that includes 380 parks altogether.
Mapping these parks has allowed Zarr to tailor his ‘park prescriptions’ specifically to the interests and geography of his patients. It’s an interesting twist on keeping kids fit that more cities are looking to adopt in the near future.
Pediatrics like Zarr reiterate that not all parks are safe – children looking to stay fit shouldn’t exactly jump into a program without their parents doing a decent amount of research. Generally speaking, parks are safer relative to how many people visit at one time.