Can Parents Improve Their Children’s Adult Health and Longevity? (Archived Pedcast)

Can parents improve their children’s longevity? Does physical fitness in childhood predict your children’s longterm health?  Doc Smo answers these questions.

Topic Introduction:

So here is something that you and your children should think about.  Unless your child develops a major illness, each and every morning that your child gets up out of bed, they are a little stronger, a little faster, and they are a little smarter than they were the day before.  During the previous day, their little bodies had a chance to grow new cells in all of their organs.  Compared to the day before, their hearts got a little bigger as did their lungs, their kidneys, and their brains. And of course, you are not paying attention if you don’t notice the tremendous increase in their cognitive abilities– they get smarter everyday. There is this steady march of growth and increase function all during childhood that halts sometime between 20 and 30 years of age. Today, we are going to explore this phenomena in a little more detail and talk about why this aging/growth curve has tremendous relevance for your children.  So sit back, crank up the mp3 player or computer and listen to today’s pedcast that I call “Making Kids Fit for Life”.

Music intro:

Childhood is about growth and change:

Do you remember how thrilling it was, as a child, to acquire new skills? I remember how exciting it was when I learned how to swim and dive, when I developed enough balance to ride a bike, hit jump shot from 15 feet, or hit a twist serve on a tennis court. I could literally feel my body getting stronger, faster, and more agile by the day. My growth and development physically seemed to increase up until my twenties and then the party was over. Yes, I continued to get more knowledgeable well into adulthood, but my physical growth stopped. Research confirms these facts. Current evidence confirms that humans reach their peak physical capacities between 20-30 years of age. Peak cognitive ability comes a little latter, about age 30-40 years of age.  What this means is that up until our physical peak, each day your child is a little stronger, faster, able to burn more oxygen, do more physical work etc. After that peak day, no matter how much we wish it weren’t so; there is a very slow but steady decline in our physical prowess, no matter how many yoga classes we go to, how many weights we lift, or how many miles we run a week. The rate of decline is biologic and predetermined. So here is the big take home point that we all need to understand and that is relevant for your children– Since physical decline is inevitable in adult life, it is vital that children maximize their peak physical abilities when they are young.  The higher a child’s physical capacity is during their childhood, the longer and healthier a life they can have.screen-shot-2016-09-10-at-10-56-19-pmChildren who eat well and get lots of exercise develop plenty of spare heart function, lung function, kidney filtering power, liver metabolic power in their formative years. Common sense tells us that by exercising, breathing hard, sweating, chasing one another, climbing trees, eating good food, getting enough quality sleep, and expanding and challenging their cognitive abilities, children can force their organs to develop to a higher peak capacity than if they sit playing video games, eat low quality processed food, or disturb their high quality sleep with TV and texting late into the night.

Parents need to take action:

Here is the great news–kids, your kids, can improve their long-term health and longevity. Good health as an adult is, to some degree, a choice.  Make sure your kids know that! You and your child need to understand the graph of physical capacity versus age, and think about it as you make decisions about your child’s activities, diet, and sleep habits.


We have all heard the expression, Use it or lose it. Well, it is extremely true– a fundamental truth of childhood. Pack that little truism into little Johnny or Janie’s head before they leave your care. Remind them that by keeping them active you are improving their longterm health and longevity. Maybe they will see why you are so interested in getting them to turn off the TV and video games and get outside to play. Not only is moving what children were meant to do, but the physical activity outdoors they experience will give them health that will carry with them their entire adult life. Here is a Doc Smo pearl for you to remember:  It’s a terrible mistake for parents to underestimate their influence on their kids or it’s corollary, Wisdom kept to oneself is wisdom wasted. Make sure you take a few minutes regularly to share your life wisdoms with your children. You will both benefit from the effort.

If you have enjoyed listening to today’s installment of, Portable Practical Pediatrics, take a few minutes to write a review on iTunes or send a comment to my blog, We have designed this blog so that it is easy for you to share your thoughts and share podcasts with friends and relatives. So what are you waiting for? This is your host, Doc Smo, asking you to remind your children that they will never become fit, if all they do is sit. Until next time.