By Michael Torchia
Fitness is a Family Affair
The numbers of overweight children are increasing, and many parents are rightly concerned about their children's weight and how it affects them. The good news is that parents can help their children live healthy, active lives.
Overweight children respond better to the word 'activity' than to the term exercise, because some children associate exercise with sweat and work, things they may feel are negatives. To really make an impact with overweight children, parents must help them increase their level of activity throughout the day.
Some parents underestimate the health risks of excess weight to their children. Overweight children tend to become overweight adults. Childhood obesity can result in increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, stress and high blood pressure, diseases we traditionally associate with adults.
Strategies to create a family fitness program:
- Make time for the entire family to participate in regular physical activities that everyone enjoys. Try brisk walking, bicycling or swimming.
- Plan special active family outings, such as a hiking or playing sports.
- Assign active chores to every family member, such as, washing the car or mowing the lawn.
- Limit the amount of TV watching and other activities that require sitting for long periods of time.
Suggestions to get your family create healthier eating habits:
- Implement a healthy meal program (rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains) for the entire family, not just for select individuals.
- Plan times when you prepare foods together. Children enjoy participating and can learn healthy cooking and food preparation.
- Limit the frequency of fast-food eating to no more than once per week and gradually try to eliminate it.
- Avoid using food as a reward or the lack of food as punishment.
Parents can establish a lifetime of healthy eating habits for themselves and their children by focusing on increasing daily activities and improving food choices.