The Family That’s Fit Together

Get your kids moving to set them up for a lifetime of health.

An obesity epidemic is sweeping our nation and it does not discriminate. Sadly, over one-third of children today are obese or overweight and this is leading to a number of other health problems, including a diabetes epidemic.

But obesity doesn’t happen by accident and it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s entirely preventable. As parents, you can set your kids up for a lifetime of health by teaching them one simple lesson—the value of physical activity.

Fit Family

Face it—it’s easier to stay fit than it is to get fit. By instilling in your children a love of activity and movement, you’re setting them up for a lifetime of success. But how do you get a generation of technologically inclined children to move? It’s easier than you think. Make it a part of your family dynamic and you’ll raise active kids who become active adults. Follow these guidelines to become a fit family:

Limit screen time. Place limits on sedentary time spent watching television or playing video games in order to create time for other more active endeavors. Yes, the kids will whine and groan—until they’re outside having so much fun that they’ve forgotten all about that Gameboy. You’re the parent. Set limits to serve your child’s best interests.

Focus on activity rather than sports. Not all kids are soccer superstars or athletically inclined, but that doesn’t mean they can’t still be active. Playing tag, riding bikes, playing at the park, or even visiting the zoo are fun ways of promoting physical activity without a focus on sports.

Make it fun. Maybe organized sports are fun for your children. If so, sign them up. However, if not, find something fun that gets them moving. Think outside the box. Try bowling, skateboarding, running through the sprinklers, gardening, hopscotch, jumping rope, sledding, building snowmen, or making snow angels. Anything other than sitting still is fair game.

Provide indoor alternatives. Don’t fall into the trap that indoor time equals sedentary time. Even a low-key game of ping-pong trumps television in terms of physical activity. Teach your kids to focus on activity, even if the activity is as simple as engaging in a board game. You’ll be teaching them a lifetime habit of gravitating toward activity rather than sedentary time.

Be a role model. It always bears repeating—children imitate the adults in their lives. Be an active, engaged adult. Let your kids see you choosing physical activity. Involve them in your fitness goals. If you’re training for a local half-marathon, let your kids help you track your progress—and cheer you on from the sidelines. This will leave a lasting impression.

Join a community. Get involved in your community. This may mean digging in the community garden, helping pick up trash on community clean-up days, or volunteering for a local event. Being a part of a social community promotes physical activity. A local YMCA or community recreation center may offer many child-centered activities.

Be active with your children. Take a family bike ride or walk. Play a rousing game of tag. Play with your kids at the park rather than watching from the sidelines. Kids want your time and attention. If you’re being active, they’ll join in.

Fit Forever

Although it may take some initial chiding to get kids moving, it will be easy to keep them moving once you’ve instilled the habit. Physical fitness is a core value; by teaching your children the value of fitness from an early age, you’re setting them up to be healthy and fit forever. Get moving!