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Health Education: 3 Ways to Motivate Your Children to Stay Active

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It seems like every other day we are hearing about a new weight loss program that promises fast results. Considering that as many as 40 percent of women and 24 percent of men in the U.S. are trying to lose weight at any given time, many are looking for the right program to help them lose the excess weight.

The World Health Organization estimates that over 300 million adults are obese worldwide and even more disturbing is the number of severely obese children has nearly doubled in the U.S. between 1965 and 1980 (source: Alternative Medicine). A healthy diet and plenty of physical activity are important to keeping your weight in check and, even more importantly, minimizing the risk of health ailments and diseases.

Though many assume that obesity is due to overeating, it is in fact a complex interaction between one's culture, environment, exercise habits, and eating styles, as well as one's genetic makeup according to Timothy Birdsall, N.D. Research has found that obesity does run in families, which could be partly due to genetics but also influenced by dietary and lifestyle habits and choices learned as a child (source: Alternative Medicine).

The Importance of Physical Exercise

One of the most important tools we can teach our children is the importance of physical exercise. Children are naturally active and love to run around as one can see on a playground. As they get older, we find more challenges to ensure they are staying physically active as school demands might interfere, or lack of active role models and just everyday busy family life.

Despite these factors, there are things parents can do to help establish healthy exercise patterns that will last into adulthood which potentially could help them live a healthier and more productive life. I have always believed in the saying, "Health is wealth."  It is pretty difficult to enjoy the other aspects of our life if we don't have our health.

3 Ways to Get More Physically Active

Here are some tips to help motivate your children:

1.) Choose an age-appropriate activity.

Otherwise your child could become bored or frustrated. The Kids Health website provides excellent age-appropriate activities for your preschooler, school-age child or teenager. (Source: kidshealth.org).

2.) Provide many opportunities for them to be active.

Taking your child to a playground or involving them in sporting activities are key. Provide kids with choices to see what they really enjoy. For example, we tried a Ta Kuan Do class with some neighborhood friends. Half of the kids loved it, the others — including my daughter — did not like it at all. However, after we attended our first soccer class, she walked in the door with her shoulders back and announced that "she LOVED it." By giving them opportunities to try out different sports, they can find what they truly enjoy doing.

3.) Keep the focus on fun.

Again this goes back to finding physical activities they enjoy. I've heard from my husband's co-worker who coaches Little League Baseball that he can always tell when the child is there because his parents want him to play, and not necessarily because he enjoys the sport. Find an activity that your child really enjoys doing as they will more likely continue this activity into adulthood.

According to Kids Health, it is recommended that children six to 17 years of age do at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day. The activities could include riding their bike in the neighborhood, free play at home, recess, and active time at school or structured sports. I think most parents can attest to the fact that their children fall asleep faster if they have had a full day of activity. Which is a good thing for everyone (source: KidsHealth.org).

What can you do to motivate your children to stay active?

References:

  1. Goldberg, Burton, Trivieri, Larry, and Anderson, John., Alternative Medicine - The Definitive Guide.  2nd Edition. Celestial Arts.
  2. Kids Health Website: www.kidshealth.or


Melissa Northway, M.S. Human Nutrition, is a mom to a very active redhead, writes and owns Polka Dots Publishing. Her storybook app Penelope the Purple Pirate was inspired by her daughter's love for adventure and she wanted to write about a strong female character that serves as a positive role model for girls and boys alike.  Penelope is a sort of modern-day Pippi Longstocking! You can read more at: www.melissanorthway.com and follow her @melissanorthway. And check out Penelope on Facebook as she loves to hand out pirate booty to her followers!

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