N. Leigh Dunlap


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Help! The TV Ate My Child!

New toys. DVDs. Desserts. Long days free of school; they all add up to an excellent opportunity for kids to do… well, nothing much at all. If you want to avoid having extra butterballs around after the holidays, get those kids off the couch.

Regular physical activity benefits weight, muscular strength, cardio-respiratory (aerobic) fitness, bone density, blood pressure, anxiety and stress, self-esteem. According to CDC, USDA and NIH standards, school-age kids need at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day -- and shouldn’t park themselves for more than two hours at a stretch.

So how do you get them moving? Turns out, the best way is to get moving yourself. Kids whose parents lead a physically active lifestyle are significantly more likely to adopt one themselves. We’re not talking extreme family sports, either. A leisurely family stroll, a game of hoops, sledding, swimming or yoga; whatever your personal style, moving and playing together can make a huge impact.

  • Encouragement. Encourage your kids to be active. Suggest activities (it does help, eye-rolling notwithstanding). Cheer for them. Praise their efforts.
  • Involvement. Go to the games. Join the team boosters. Play yourself. Show them it matters to you.
  • Facilitation. Make it possible. Make sure they have access to facilities and/or programs. Don’t count on your kids getting the activity they need at school alone.
  • Role Modeling. Walk to work. Run your errands on bicycle. Stretch regularly. What you do is what they learn.

Kids:

try this entertainment bonus: Dare Dad to jump rope…backwards. Ask Mom to see if she can still touch her head to her knees. Challenge the whole family to some serious sledding. Be creative and make it up as you go along – but be prepared to take your turn.

Learn more, CDC BAM! Site resources:

physical activity cards

physical activity calendar