Whether it’s taking a family walk on a Saturday morning, or after dinner, or washing the car together, We Can!® encourages you to get active to maintain a healthy weight.
By getting active, you’re using calories you store up from everything you eat over the course of a day. Everything your family eats and drinks—from the cereal eaten at breakfast to the sodas they drank with dinner—is stored as energy. If this stored energy isn’t used, it creates an imbalance that can lead to weight gain.
However, balancing your food intake and activity IS possible, and it’s not as hard as you might think. Learn more about the energy balance equation. When we talk about increasing your physical activity, we’re not asking you and your kids to train like marathon runners (unless you want to, of course).
Strenuous physical activity can burn a lot of energy; however, everyday activities use energy, too. Simply parking further away from the grocery store and walking the extra distance can increase everyone’s energy output.
It’s up to you to choose the activities that are right for you and your family. Importantly, it’s also up to you to stick with it. We live in a world where it’s easy to be glued to our computers—sending e-mails, playing video games, shopping—both during and after work. And, it’s awfully tempting just to plop down in front of the TV after a long day at work, too.
It’s the same for kids. They spend hours sitting at their school desks, come home to sit and do homework, and then maybe they chat with some friends online or sit in front of the TV, texting. Health conditions like asthma sometimes discourage kids from engaging in physical activity, but these conditions don't have to stop your family from moving more. Check with your child's medical care provider to make sure your child's treatment plan allows your child's asthma to be well controlled. When asthma is in good control, most children can do any physical activity they choose! For more information visit the NHLBI's Lung Disease publications page, or the NHLBI National Asthma Control Initiative.
Add to the mix that studies show that people often snack when they’re in front of a screen (TV or computer), and you have a recipe for weight gain.
So, fight the urge to slouch on the couch. Instead, get up and go, and set an example for the youngsters in your life. Physical activity can do more than just keep your waistline trim, it can make you healthier by:
- Relieving stress
- Improving your sleep
- Making your bones and muscles stronger
- Making you feel full of energy
- Building overall strength and endurance
- Helping you feel good about yourself
- Giving you something to do when you’re bored
- Providing a way to connect to family and friends
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends in the
2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans that children and teens be physically active for at least 60 minutes on most, if not all, days. Learn more about how much activity you and your family should get.