Help Your Kids Be More Active

Photo Credit: Alina Zienowicz CC-BY-SA-3.0

Childhood obesity is a growing epidemic in the United States. A staggering 12.5 million children in the USA are obese. When children are obese they can suffer from many of the same weight-related illness as adults. Children can develop high blood pressure, high cholesterol, breathing difficulties like asthma and joint problems. Children need a healthy diet and plenty of exercise to avoid gaining too much weight.  It can be difficult to get the kids off the sofa, away from the video games or television shows and outside to play. Some children are less active than others or may not like playing team sports. If you have a sedentary child in your family, there are ways to get them up and get them moving. 
Set a good example for your child by eating healthy and getting plenty of exercise yourself. Many people like to sit in front of the television, feet up with a soda and a snack after a day at work. Your children are likely to follow your example. Make it a habit to take a walk around the block after work. Invite your child to join you. You can encourage your child to join you on walks by providing a reward after you return home. A refreshing cup of fruit sorbet or a cool fruit smoothie is a delicious, healthy treat after a walk.
Limit the amount of time your child spends on the Internet, in front of the television or playing video games. Children should spend no more than 2 hours each day on the computer, playing games or watching television. Inevitably your child will claim boredom and want to watch television or play a video game. Invite your child to join you in gardening, lawn work, playing a game of one-on-one in the driveway or play tag in the back yard. Give your child daily chores that require exercise, such as walking the dog, taking the trash to the curb or walking to the mailbox. Any amount of exercise is better than no exercise. Don’t put a television in your child’s bedroom. Kids tend to head straight for their bedroom after visiting the refrigerator for a snack where they lounge on the bed doing homework with the television turned on. Create a schedule that gets your child moving. Busy families can schedule one day each week when the whole family engages in some form of exercise. You can do many things together, from walking in the park, riding bikes, nature hikes or taking the dog to the dog park for a couple of hours of fetch and running. 
Enroll your child in team sports like soccer, baseball, softball or basketball. Children that do not enjoy team sports may be interested in karate or taekwondo. Try to find activities that you and your child can do together. The YMCA offers seasonal sports activities and most centers have a swimming pool that the whole family can use. Take advantage of community activities for your child. Community charity walks are a good way to get fit and raise money for a worthy cause. Whatever your fitness plan, your kids have to enjoy it if they are to continue and benefit from regular exercise. If your child complains or lags behind when exercising, find another activity that he or she might enjoy. Ask your child to share his or her ideas about games to play or places to go to enjoy some exercise and have fun. 

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