Why does one ride a bicycle? For fun, transportation, exercise, personal fame, or for a specific cause? This summer I had the pleasure of hosting a pair of touring cyclists during their overnight stop in Cambridge, Idaho. Super fun, energetic, and wearing matching Team Henry jerseys, these two are riding across the United States to raise awareness and educate children about healthy lifestyles.
Their stop was short but they left an impression on me. At my hospital job recently, while trying to roll over a 500-pound adult patient, I started thinking about their mission to encourage children to exercise and eat a healthier diet. During my past 20 years in direct patient healthcare, I’ve noticed an alarming increase in the size and weight of the adult population. Twenty years ago, a 300-pound human was huge, but these days we don’t even bat an eyelash at that weight. The now off-the-scale obese patient weights around 400-600 pounds, sometimes even more. The hospital inventory of equipment also grew in size to accommodate patients up to 800 pounds. The hospital beds, gurneys, wheelchairs, and commodes are at least twice the width as twenty years ago.
Call me old-fashioned. I remember as a kid a large soft drink was 12 ounces. These days 7-11 sells a team big gulp that you can fill with 128 ounces of Pepsi or whatever belly wash you desire. That’s a gallon, and 1,024 calories (the “average” adult daily caloric intake should be around 2,000). I also remember playing outside non-stop for hours in the summer from sunrise to sunset. We’d finally come home at dark when we heard Mom yelling our names at the top of her lungs from a couple of blocks away. Middle and last name included, mind you, and we were in trouble for not wanting to come inside to go the bed. Times have changed for kids. I rarely notice some of the kids that live near us playing outside. If they do venture outside, it’s often only to hop onto an ATV and ride less than a quarter of mile to get the mail.
Okay, now back to the cyclists. Dr. Pierre Rouzier, a sports medicine physician from Amherst, Massachusetts, and his good friend Roger Grette left the Oregon coast in June. They are riding all the way to Boston, 4000 miles. Team Henry has been stopping along the way at libraries and bookstores to talk to kids about healthy lifestyles and to donate copies of a book Pierre co-wrote called Henry Gets Moving.
The book inspires children and families to eat well and get active. Today, more than 17% of children and 36% of adults are obese. Childhood obesity has doubled in 30 years and quadrupled in adolescents. The solution to this disturbing problem is so simple: burn more calories than you consume. An excellent free calorie tracker on-line is MyPlate. This tracker will make you think twice about what you put in your mouth or feed your children when you enter data daily. It’s shocking how fast calories add-up when you start counting them. The tracker also helps you keep track of calories burned. I like this tool, and there are plenty of other free ones available on-line.
Pierre and Roger are still on the road pedaling to Boston. You can follow the rest of their journey on their Facebook page and Instagram site. You can buy the book Henry Gets Moving on Amazon for yourself, your children, or to donate to your local school.
GO TEAM HENRY!