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Pediatricians lead way to active summer

Pediatricians at Mayo Clinic Health System in Red Wing are stepping out of the exam room and hitting the walking path this summer to motivate children to get active.

The doctors will be in Bay Point Park at 5:15 p.m. Mondays through July 27 to lead family walks and demonstrate the importance of regular exercise.

“We plan to walk a few laps and have a conversation about healthy habits — and have some fun,” Dr. Peggy Decker said.

The program is for children “of all shapes and sizes,” the Red Wing pediatrician said, as well as family members, friends and the local community.

“It’s more fun to be active with a buddy, and we’ll hopefully be a familiar face there,” she said.

The walks will be held alongside Get Ready to Ramble, a weekly walking and running program in Bay Point Park administered by staff from Mayo Clinic Health System and Red Wing Family YMCA.

The goal of both programs is to encourage participants to walk or run in the River City Ramble fundraiser held Aug. 1 in Red Wing.

Decker said meets will be informal and feature brief highlights from the daily 5-2-1-0 concept:

•Eat five or more fruits and vegetables;

•Spend two hours or less on recreational screen time;

•Do one hour or more of physical activity;

•Replace sugary drinks with water and low-fat milk.

“We do not have a lecture and a PowerPoint presentation, and there will be no quiz,” she joked.

Attendees also will have the option of signing up for a prize drawing at the end of the program.

Childhood obesity

Decker said the purpose of the walking program is to address growing concerns over pediatric obesity.

The number of overweight children in Minnesota ages 6 to 11 tripled from 1980 to 2007, and more than tripled for children ages 12 to 19, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

In 2010, 15 percent of ninth-grade boys and 11 percent of girls were classified as overweight, or having a body mass index above the 85th percentile. An additional 12 percent of boys and six percent of girls were obese, having BMIs above the 95th percentile.

But Decker said families shouldn’t focus too heavily on numbers, and instead look at physical activity as a fun, integral part of a healthy lifestyle.

“It’s about using your body, feeling comfortable in your body and getting some of those health benefits,” she said, including lower blood pressure and improved mood.

Reading program

To help promote the importance of physical activity to local children, Mayo Clinic Health System is holding a reading program for day cares. A staff member will come out to read the book “Good For Me and You” by Mercer Mayer, part of the Little Critter series.

The book covers healthy eating options and exercising for fun, not to win or be the best.

Child care providers interested in the book reading can contact Pam Horlitz with Mayo Clinic Health System at 651-385-3302.

Michael Brun

Michael Brun joined RiverTown Multimedia at the Red Wing Republican Eagle in March 2013, covering county government, health and local events.  He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls journalism program.

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