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Responding to Exercise-Deficit Disorder in Youth: Integrating Wellness Care Into Pediatric Physical Therapy

Faigenbaum, Avery D. EdD; Chu, Donald A. PT, PhD, ATC; Paterno, Mark V. PT, PhD, MBA, SCS, ATC; Myer, Gregory D. PhD

Pediatric Physical Therapy:
doi: 10.1097/PEP.0b013e31827a33f6
Special Communication

The Problem: The decline and disinterest in regular physical activity among contemporary youth have created an immediate need to identify and treat these youngsters before they become resistant to our interventions.

Key points: Exercise-deficit disorder is a term used to describe a condition characterized by reduced levels of physical activity that are inconsistent with current public health recommendations. Pediatric physical therapists are in an enviable position to identify and treat exercise-deficit disorder in youth, regardless of body size or physical ability.

Recommendation: If pediatric physical therapists want to become advocates for children's health and wellness, there is a need to address limitations in the physical therapist professional curriculum, educate families on the benefits of wellness programming, and initiate preventive strategies that identify youth who are inactive, promote daily physical activity, and encourage healthy lifestyle choices.

In Brief

This paper presents a challenge to the profession to assume a greater role in managing what the authors' term exercise-deficit disorder among children who are otherwise healthy.

Author Information

Department of Health and Exercise Science (Dr Faigenbaum), The College of New Jersey, Ewing, New Jersey; Athercare Fitness and Rehabilitation (Dr Chu), Castro Valley, California; Division of Occupational and Physical Therapy (Dr Paterno), Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio; Department of Pediatrics (Dr Paterno), College of Medicine, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio; Sports Medicine Biodynamics Center and Human Performance Laboratory (Dr Myer), Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio; Departments of Pediatrics and Orthopedic Surgery (Dr Myer), College of Medicine, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio; Athletic Training Division (Dr Myer), School of Allied Medical Professions, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio; Departments of Athletic Training, Sports Orthopedics and Pediatric Science (Dr Myer), Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions, Provo, Utah.

Avery D. Faigenbaum, EdD, Department of Health and Exercise Science, The College of New Jersey, 2000 Pennington Rd, Ewing, NJ 08628 (

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

© 2013 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.