Fit Tip: 3 steps to get healthy with your kids

Running, jumping, climbing and exploring. These words were once synonymous with children and their activities. In the last 10 years, however, children have become more used to sitting on their computers, texting on their phones, playing video games, and watching TV. Children are rarely seen anymore with their friends having fun on playgrounds. Sadly, this has caused a massive decline in their health. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported that in 2010, more than a third of children and adolescents were either overweight or obese. These issues can quickly escalate into heart disease, diabetes, bone and joint problems, as well as poor self-esteem. How can a parent or caretaker help their kids prevent or reverse these problems? Just, follow these three easy steps.

  1. Make movement fun together. Prioritize fun and playful movement as a family. It is important to teach and show children how healthful and fun it is to move and it’s even better to do it with them. Try playing different sports, enjoying outdoor activities or creating fitness challenges together like joining organized group training programs. Children quickly learn to enjoy the feeling of movement and associate it with being fun without thinking of it as “exercise.” This happens first and foremost from leading by example. So, frame being active as a positive experience and kids will learn to do so, too. Action Step #1: Take your family outside and participate in any activity. Don’t call it “exercise” and make it fun. No ideas? Try walking, hiking or an informal game of kickball.
  2. Cook healthy foods together. Kids are notorious for living on pizza and ice cream. Who can blame them? If you watch only 30 minutes of children’s TV you will notice constant commercials advertising “food-like” substances looking so delicious that kids beg you to buy them. And, what about those “kid’s menus” in restaurants? They are merely junk food, too. These foods are directly responsible for many of the ill health effects that children suffer from today. How do we change this? Cook healthy foods together as an activity. Include children in the cooking process and explain how and why healthy food choices will be really helpful to them. Teach them to cut up vegetables and apply seasonings to meat. This will get them involved into the process and learn to understand how much fun cooking healthy food can be. Action Step #2: Find a healthy cooking class in your area and take your kids along. This will give your children great skills with handling and preparing food that’s good for them.
  3. Limit electronics together. It today’s world of technology, children can find fun without ever leaving their couches. But, passively watching TV, texting and playing video games comes with a huge cost to their health. Less and less children are engaging in physical activities with their friends like playing tag or basketball. Today, kids are missing out on developing their brains and bodies. According to neuroscientist Daniel Wolpert, the reason we have brains is to use them first and foremost for movement. Moving in fun and playful ways is critically important for a child’s healthy brain development, which will enhance their school performance and benefit them in life. Action Step #3: Limit your children’s use of TV, video games, and cell phones. Instead, encourage them to play outside with friends and get them involved in an organized physical activity. Over the centuries, gymnastics, martial arts, and ball sports have taught children the values of camaraderie, discipline and perseverance.

In a world of technology and junk food, you can still influence your children to be active and eat right to stay healthy and live longer.

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