How can I get my child to be more active?

September is National Childhood Obesity Month.  While researching on this subject, I was shocked to realize that our kids will not live as long as we do!!!!!!  What?!?!  Today’s preteens are expected to have a shorter lifespan than their parents. That is disturbing, yet not unsurprising, given that 75% of Americans are predicted to be overweight or obese by 2020 (OECD 2010). 

Data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development show that 1 in 5 children aged 5–17 is carrying excess body weight.   Obesity in children causes type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high bad cholesterol, low good cholesterol, and high triglycerides, ailments that we are used to seeing in adults, and for the most part is caused by their weight and inactivity.

In today's world of driving kids everywhere and the convenience of fast food combined with the popularity of video games, how do we, as adults, teachers and parents help combat this problem?  There are numerous programs out there, many you can fnd on the internet and many schools are introducing healthy eating programs to their regular curriculum, but we must bring this home!  Here are some suggestions:

  1. Take your kids grocery shopping with you and teach them to read the nutrition labels on food packaging, 
  2. Teach your children to create a  a balanced meal using the dinner plate split into three:  1/3 veggies, 1/3 protein and 1/3 carbs, 
  3. Start a daily activity chart in the family room or kitchen where everyone needs to log their daily activities! 
  4. Teach your kids the 80/20 rule, eat healthy and clean 80% of the time, 20% can be for pure pleasure!  
  5. When your child ask for candy, ask them what fruits and veggies they ate today, the recommened amount being 5 servngs of fruits and veggies!  If they can account for those servings, then allow some junk food, we all love junk food!  
  6. Plan a fun family activity and create a goal!  There are many local 5K's everywhere!  Just search local community events!  Sign up and start training.

Many studies have shown that by making our children accountable for their daily nutrition and activities, we empower them to make better decisions!  Lets empower our youth to be healthy!

Just as a sidebar, according to the President' Council on Physical Fitness the following guidelines for youth fitness is as follows:

Youth (ages 6—17) should do 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of physical activity daily, including at least 60 minutes of aerobic acitivity such as active recreation, including hiking, skateboarding, roller blading, brisk walking, dancing, playing tag or organized sports like soccer, swimming and tennis.  At least three times a week, it is recommended that they participate in muscle-strengthening acitivities such as tug-of-war, pushups, sit-ups, and swinging on playground equipment.  And last but not least, our children should be participating in bone-strengthening exercises, such as hopscotch, skipping rope, volleyball or basketball.