Today's kids have the best-conditioned thumbs of any generation. Lightning-quick reflexes, too.
Problem is, those are the only muscle groups that Xbox and PlayStation hit. And sending five texts in one minute doesn't count as an aerobic workout.
No measure of surround sound and virtual effects can turn the couch into a ball field or a basketball court. Despite all our technological luxuries, the pursuit of fitness still requires exercise and play -- you know, physical activity.
By and large, we weigh too much and exercise too little. It's no longer exclusive to adults either. Childhood obesity has become a national epidemic and one of the country's biggest public health challenges.
One of every three children in the United States is overweight or, worse, obese. In 1980, just 6.5 percent of U.S. children aged 6 to 11 years were considered obese, but that percentage rose to nearly 20 percent by 2010.
With guidance and education, we can put our children on a path early in life that increases the likelihood of them living longer, healthier lives.
That's what the Fitness Fun Fair for Kids aims to do. From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18, at the Vaughan Athletic Center in Aurora, kids and families take center stage at this gala event that will spotlight health and fitness among the younger generation.
And, like the best things in life, the Fitness Fun Fair is free to all who attend.
"Any form of play is beneficial," said program coordinator Jen Manos. "Exercise is more than just going to the gym and walking on a treadmill. It's about being active on a regular basis and making it an enjoyable lifestyle."
But for many children, biking to the playground and playing kick ball in the back yard have given way to watching TV, playing video games and spending endless hours online. Sedentary lifestyles among children -- once unthinkable -- are becoming all too prevalent.
The Fitness Fun Fair will teach children and families that exercise is a way to take care of body, rather than a chore that must be performed. By promoting activities that incorporate play, kids are more inclined to get involved and stay involved, setting the foundation for a lifetime of fitness, health and good fun.
"The park district emphasizes fun in its youth exercise programs because the whole idea is to help kids be active and get fit," said Manos. "The more they enjoy it, the more likely they are to exercise on a regular basis."
The open-house format at the Fun Fair allows families to bounce around among numerous activities that include an inflatable obstacle course, ZumbAtomic sessions, KitFit demos and loads of other activities designed to endear kids to exercise, er, play. Also, the park district's performing arts school will perform scenes from "Mary Poppins" and a youth choir will sing Disney hits.
More than 20 health-conscious vendors will be on hand as well to promote the most important qualities in life -- good health and happiness.
Call it play. Call it exercise. Better yet, call it a lifestyle. The kids won't know the difference. They'll just reap the rewards -- for a lifetime.
Jeff Long is the public relations manager for the Fox Valley Park District. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.