I was hanging out with my 11-year old nephew last weekend, and while he is a fairly active kid, it struck me how different his summer days are than mine were at his age. Back then (you know, before electricity and the automobile) we got kicked out of the house in the morning, roamed the neighborhood, played baseball, kickball, tag or whatever else we could think of until the streetlights came on.
We used to go from screen door to screen door until we had enough for a "team." These days, the chances of getting enough friends together for a game of pickup baseball are pretty slim unless it's "MLB 12 The Show" and it's on some kind of video screen.
That's why Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center joined with the Red Sox and Covidien at the inaugural "Double Play: Health & Fitness," a wellness workshop aimed at teaching kids about the benefits of healthy eating and exercise.
"Teens and adolescents are spending on average five hours each day in front of a television or a computer of some kind," said Kathy Shillue, a physical therapist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, who took part in the workshop. "That doesn't leave much time for exercise. So learning to make good choices about the food they eat is important."
About 60 children from ages 8-14 joined Shillue, Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and Sox strength and conditioning consultant Mike Boyle on the field at Fenway where they went through an exercise program just like the players might do before a game.
"The message that we are trying to deliver to the kids is that you only get one body. You've got to learn how to take care of yourself," said Boyle. "It's important that they learn how to warm up. It's important that they learn how to eat. And it's good for them to learn now."
Good to learn that hot dogs, peanuts and Cracker Jack are OK every once in a while, but there are better menu choices even at the ballpark. Aramark, the Sox's concessionaire, let the kids step up and fill their plates with ingredients for healthy snacks and meals.
"We've found that the kids are eager to learn," echoed Shillue. "With good information, they may have a better chance of avoiding diseases like obesity and diabetes while keeping their bones strong as they grow."
And for those of us whose (vertical) growing days are over, the diet and exercise advice can go a long way to halting any horizontal expansion.
It was with that in mind that my nephew and I grabbed our gloves and headed outside to work on a double play of our own. Care to join us?
Gary Gillis is a contributor to MLB.com. The BID Injury Report is a regular column on redsox.com. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is the official hospital of The Boston Red Sox. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.