More than 50% of us are overweight. A recent report indicated that obesity and physical inactivity could cost the state of California more than $21 billion this year.
Another alarming fact is that our children are growing fat along with us. The child obesity rate has more than tripled in three decades! Don't let your children fall into this category. Follow some of these suggestions and your children will be on their path to keeping their bodies healthy for a lifetime.
Leading By Example.
The first suggestion is going to be difficult for some folks, but it is the most important. You need to lead by example. For example, if your kids never see you exercising, or they notice that you spend your evenings watching the tube while consuming bags of chips.
They're not going to be inclined to take up jogging as a hobby. In contrast, it probably won't be effective using the drill-sergeant approach either. Ordering the family out of bed every morning at 5:00 a.m. for a five-mile run will not be accepted by the majority of the family.
Setting The Example
Make Exercise A Priority.
So what should you do to set an example? Joining a health club and actually going there a few times a week is good. Just buying a membership isn't. If your kids see you setting aside time to make exercise a priority, they'll learn it's important.
Jogging, bike riding or walking are good examples too. A gym membership isn't necessary but taking the time to do some sort of exercise is.
Involving Your Kids
The Importance Of Play.
In addition to allowing your kids to witness you exercising, let them join in. If you're going for a run, let them do a short distance with you. Go for a walk with your kids.
They might like to ride their bikes in the neighborhood while you take a stroll. Go for a hike in the hills on the weekend. Take a light lunch and have a picnic. (No, don't bring chips, cookies and soda!) If your children are old enough, include them in the gym's membership and workout with them.
When children are young, just play with them. Run and play with your children. Have them chase you. Play hide and seek or leap frog. They'll have a blast and so will you. You will also have a good workout too. The kids will ask to do it again - guaranteed!
Should You Have Your Kids On Structured Exercise Routines?
Should you have your kids on structured exercise routines? As stated earlier, drill-sergeant approaches are not recommended. There will be a few teenagers out there, however, that really like to exercise.
They might find the benefits pay off in a sport they're participating in. If that's the case, encourage them but don't force them.
Don't try to relive your high school glory days through your children. Keep health and fitness as the goal.
Very few kids will make it to the pro ranks in any sport, concentrate on improving their self-esteem. They will become more confident as their bodies develop. Remember, to prevent injuries monitor their exercise habits closely.
Encourage A Healthy Diet
Exercise is only part of the healthy lifestyle. Teaching them to eat healthy is another very important aspect. If you're eating fried pork rinds, your children probably aren't begging for broccoli as snacks.
Cut down on the junk food. (Your kids might be surprised that Doritos and Pepsi do not NEED to be consumed everyday.) You don't have to eliminate these foods entirely.
Save junk food for special occasions. Have fruits and vegetables available at all your meals and for snacks. Stop eating fried foods and foods out of a box or a can. Limit the trips to fast food restaurants to once a month or less.
Let Me Get On My Soap Box.
I've noticed a trend over the years when it comes to kids being involved in extracurricular activities.
The number of "soccer parents" seems to be steadily increasing. Shuttling child athletes to games or practices several times a week is normal. Letting your kids exercise in team sports is great, but many families don't have the time to make a meal.
They'll stop at a fast food restaurant for burgers and fries several times a week. This is a huge contributor to our overweight kids. Your children might be burning 300 or 400 calories during a practice.
If you refuel them with 1,000 or more calories from fast food, which is mostly saturated fat and sugar, that's a net calorie gain of 600. They could gain a pound of pure body fat in less than two weeks!
You might want to shuffle some priorities, folks. Okay, I've stepped down off of the soap box now.
Brown Bag It!
If you're not packing a lunch for your child at school, you might consider doing so, especially on "hot dog" day. You'll have control of what they eat.
Many kids like a lunch packed for them. A sandwich, a piece of fruit or two and some nuts will give them plenty of energy for the afternoon.
| Foot Note:
The teachers would appreciate it if you refrain from soda, favoring all natural juice instead.
Here's one last thing that you might be wondering about. What do you do for the child that would rather play video games or watch television than exercise?
One suggestion is to set limits. Only allow them to play for a couple hours on the weekend and not during the week. You could also trick them. Bribe them if you prefer to call it that.
You know that new game they want that's called SuperGizmo Slayer III? Tell them you'll buy it for them - once they've ran and logged 25 miles. Here's the catch, though.
You run it with them.
Remember the lead by example thing? That's only two and one-half miles per day for 10 days. Wait. That's too easy. Make them WORK for it. That's the game EVERY kid HAS to have. Make it 50 miles!
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