The statistics on childhood obesity are frightening. Children between the ages of 2 and 5 have become twice as likely to be obese compared to 10 years ago, according to the Institute of Medicine’s Committee on Prevention of Obesity in Children and Youth.
Preparing healthy meals and snacks and watching portion size are two steps toward preventing childhood obesity. The next important step is staying fit through physical activity. Try these ideas from the President’s Council on Fitness and Sports to help your family reap the benefits of exercise.
- Make physical fitness part of your daily routine.
Take a 10-minute activity break while you watch TV. Climb the stairs instead of taking the escalator or elevator. If possible, walk instead of drive to the park or store or to see friends.
Working hard and getting sweaty help your heart pump better and give you more energy. Play tag or hopscotch, jump rope, or dance for some fun aerobic exercises.
- Play with friends and family.
Plan at least one special physical activity for the family each week—such as a bike ride, a walk in the park, or a game of soccer or basketball.
- Make sure your school includes physical education.
Find out what types of physical activities your child’s school provides. How often do children go outside? What types of games do they play? What kind of equipment do they use?
Parents need to make sure they and their families engage in plenty of physical activity to stay healthy.
- “Overweight in Children and Adolescents” from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides statistics, parenting tips, and suggestions for better child health.
- “10 Tips to Healthy Eating and Physical Activity for You” from the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports has tips for getting fit and a handbook for getting 2- to 6-year-olds into movement and exercise.
- “Packing Fat” from Science News for Kids. The best parenting advice is to be a good role model for increased physical activity and a more healthful diet.
- “Fighting Fat in Your Kids” from Dr. Woolard.com provides great tips on getting your child active and motivated.
- GetKidsInAction.org for kids and parents has good information. Many areas on this site provide activity ideas for parents and kids to do together and for parents to model healthy activity for kids.
- “Fighting Obesity Through the Built Environment” from Environmental Health Perspectives. Is our environment making it easy to be obese? This Government publication from the National Institutes of Health provides ideas for change.