Active Kids, Healthy Life: The case for bringing back the fun

This guest post was written by our good friend Josh Billings, PT, MPT, the Medstar Sports Medicine Running Program Coordinator and Regional Director, and dad of three.

As a healthcare leader in the Baltimore/DC region, MedStar Sports Medicine proudly makes significant investments in programs that help build stronger and healthier communities.  Many people recognize MedStar Sports Medicine as the medical team of the pros (Ravens, Orioles, Capitals, Wizards, DC United) as well as the majority of our local college athletic programs (UMBC, Towson U., Loyola U., Morgan State, Coppin State, Stevenson, Goucher, CCBC), but the grand majority of athletes we work with are adult recreational athletes (weekend warriors) and kids.  

MedStar Sports Medicine has developed programs specifically for Running and for Youth Sports and we are excited to bring these two worlds together as a part of CCR’s Kids XC Series this Fall. For those with kids who have participated in a race previously, you know what a fun event it is. Getting kids active in a fun, low-stress, family-friendly environment is what youth sports should be all about.


Research shows conclusively that active kids grow up to do better in life.  The Aspen Institute has compiled research showing kids who gain physical literacy go on to have higher test scores, less drug use as teens, are more likely to go to college, have higher earnings and lower health costs.  We also know that active moms are 2x more likely to have active kids, passing on these benefits for a lifetime to the next generation.

Unfortunately, all of us with kids also know the reality of today’s youth sports world is not always so rosy.  Inadequately trained coaches, physical injury, and a system often focused more on the needs of adults than kids, has resulted in a dramatic decrease in fun and therefore participation. As US Olympic Coaching Director Chris Snyder has said, “At any age, when the fun goes missing, the athlete goes missing.”

70% of kids drop out of sports altogether by age 13.  That is a scary statistic for all of us, and one that has become increasingly important to reverse for the well-being of our kids and communities. We need to add the fun back into sports with programs and events that help create active healthy kids, such as the Kids XC Series on Sunday afternoons this Fall.

Look to this blog over the next eight weeks for MedStar Sports Medicine experts to more deeply explore some of the recommendations and programs that can help improve these challenging trends.  

About the Author: Josh Billings, PT, MPT


Josh received his BS in Biology from Susquehanna University in 1995 and his MPT from University of Delaware in 1997.  Josh was a middle distance runner in college and started the first Running Injury clinic in the Baltimore area, incorporating his manual therapy skills with video gait analysis and use of the Alter-G Anti-Gravity Treadmill.  He has grown that program to include 15 Running Injury Clinics throughout DC, MD and Northern VA.

He is especially passionate about working with youth athletes and making positive changes in youth sports programming through education and in his role as Community Outreach lead in MedStar’s Youth Sports Medicine program.

In addition to his clinical interests, Josh is also the Regional Director of 7 MedStar National Rehabilitation Network clinics in Anne Arundel County and South Baltimore.