The province’s doctors are partnering with RunNB, a provincial running organization, to get young people running.

The New Brunswick Medical Society is contributing $10,000 to ensure children in the province have opportunity to participate in RunNB-sanctioned races.

"One-third of children in New Brunswick are obese. That's a serious concern to doctors. And doctors see the impacts over the long term in our healthcare system," says Anthony Knight, the chief executive officer of the New Brunswick Medical Association.

"When a child is inactive as a young person they're more likely to be inactive as an adult. And that affects our health care system. So this is a great partnership."

It's not just the kids who could be in trouble. 

According to the Canadian Institute of Actuaries, New Brunswickers drink more, eat more and smoke more than the average Canadian.

'My favourite thing about running is that you have fun and it's really good exercise for your body.'— Eva Hatfield, 8

The study says the excess could bring health care costs to over $1 billion by 2020.

Academic studies aren’t needed to convince some young people about the merits of lacing up their running shoes.

Eva Hatfield, 8, and Adah Hatfield, 6, have already felt the benefit of the program.

The sisters ran in Fredericton's Fall Classic kids' race last year and they plan to run more with their parents Dan and Laura.

"My favourite thing about running is that you have fun and it's really good exercise for your body," says Eva.

Dan Hatfield said he hopes his daughters can get an active start to their lives.

"I hope that they can grow up running and being active a little bit more than I was as a young kid," he said.

"And I think that these types of events help them see adults and other kids being active and helps them model that same behaviour."

"Small Strides, Health Lives" program

The two organizations have joined forces in the "Small Strides, Healthy Lives" program. Each child under 14 who participates in a youth race gets a race bib and a finisher's medal, no matter their time. 

si-nb-hatfield-activity-220

Eva and Ada Hatfield exercise with their parents before going on a family run. (CBC)

The distances for each race are one to three kilometres.

RunNB is a volunteer-run organization with one seasonal employee.

The funding from a big organization like the medical society helps RunNB provide for the younger members of its community.

The children's program started in 2007 with sponsor Aliant and later, it was sponsored by Irving Oil Ltd.  Now, the medical society has stepped in after RunNB approached the doctors' organization.

The results show that more children are participating in running events around the province.  Since 2007, the kids’ races have grown by 1,000 participants.  In 2012, roughly 2,500 children raced through this program.