In 2017, the Exercise Medicine Program was launched within the Labatt Family Heart Centre at The Hospital for Sick Children as the first paediatric program in Canada dedicated to providing physical activity and lifestyle recommendations for children with heart disease.
Now in its fifth year, and with more than 200 patients currently enrolled, the program extends beyond cardiac patients to include children living with other medical conditions such as lung disease, rheumatology and endocrinology diseases, and cancer.
Physical activity and healthy lifestyle recommendations are typically not included in the medical care of these children, and the Exercise Medicine Program is the only opportunity for these young patients and their families to receive professional guidance on the benefits of regular physical activity, proper nutrition, and sleep.
A common misconception is that children with medical conditions are too sick to play or participate in sports. As a result, most of them end up leading a sedentary life which leads to serious detrimental effects on their physical and mental health.
Taking part in sports and playing with siblings and friends will not only make these children physically stronger but also more socially engaged. This will improve the way they look at their life.
An active child is an empowered child.