Simple Steps for Increasing Physical Activity

Is your child a couch potato? Physical activity is essential to lose weight or maintain a normal weight. If your child is a TV junkie, obsessed with video games, or a full-time Internet surfer chances are he or she is not getting enough physical activity. With all the advice you hear about weight loss, diets, and fitness, there is one fundamental reason why kids get fat:

They eat more calories than they burn

So how can you get your kids off the couch and burning calories? Here are some simple ways to add activity to their daily schedule, and maybe lose a few pounds yourself!

Take a family walk. Even if this is just 20 or 30 minutes after dinner, it can make a difference in your child's level of fitness.

If your children earn an allowance, try to add chores that have a physical component, such as mowing the lawn, raking leaves, or sweeping.

If every time you ask your child to go outside and play he or she whines to let them finish one more video game or chat for five more minutes with a friend, you need to set the rules in advance. Most kids spend 20 hours or more a week watching TV, playing video games, or surfing the web, and not much time running, playing, or getting physical. Make a deal with them: for every 3 hours they surf the web or watch TV, they have to do 1 hour of something physical. Physical doesn' t have to be exercise per se. Your child can add physical activity throughout the day in a number of ways.

If they promised when you bought that cute puppy that they would walk the dog, make them stick with the promise. Buy a frisbee and they will get even more exercise playing catch with the dog.

If you have a workout routine, why not include your children? If they learn young that this is a normal part of daily life, they are more likely to incorporate exercise into their lives permanently.

If it is safe for your child to walk home from school or from the school bus stop, let them walk instead of picking them up. If you and a number of other parents live within a mile of the school and don't like your kids to walk home alone, why not start a "walk pool" instead of a car pool! Each week a different parent joins a group of kids to walk home from school.

Always remember that children learn most everything through example. So if you serve as a good example of a person who cares about fitness, they will value fitness in their lives.

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