Get up, get moving, get active with your family

Get up, get moving, get active with your family

25% of the world's children are considered to be obese, and the number of overweight children continues to rise. The main reasons are: 

  • Lack of physical activity. Countless children aren't getting enough physical activity or exercise. 
  • Bad eating habits. Many children eat too much junk and fast foods, which are high in fat and calories.

Families play a vital role in promoting healthy active living. Our friends at have come up with a few suggestions for getting your family active:

  • Get your whole family involved in regular physical activity and healthy eating. It is easier when everyone in your family does it together.
  • If your children aren't active, add to the time each day that they spend on physical activities and sports in small increments, such as 5 minutes a day. Children should spend at least 10 minutes on "vigorous activity," which makes their hearts race, and makes their bodies feel warm.
  • Make regular activity a part of your child's everyday routine. It's easier and less time consuming than relying only on planned, organized activities.
  • Encourage your children to take part in activities that involve moving and not activities that involve sitting. Set restrictions on how much time they spend watching TV, playing video games, and surfing the Internet -- no more than one hour a day is optimal. 
  • Organized sports by themselves (such as a soccer team or a hockey team) aren't enough to keep children actively healthy. Encourage them to also find out about activities they can do and enjoy every day, such as walking or cycling to a friend's house or jumping rope. 
  • If you drive your children to school, try walking instead, or organize a walking group with your neighbours. If the children see you doing physical activity they will want to join in!
  • Get your children involved in activities around the house: carrying the groceries, raking leaves, carrying wood, or vacuuming their room. 
  • Eat healthily and in moderation
  • Reduce the amount of high-fat and high-calorie foods you bring into your house. It's easier for your children to make healthy choices if there's no junk food around to tempt them. This is true for adults too; I find it hard to choose an apple over a bag of chips!! I think we all do. If you do bring home foods like chips or cookies, buy smaller portions of them. 
  • Get your children to help you choose these healthy foods. 
  • Supply your children with healthy snacks. Instead of high-fat foods like chips and chocolate biscuits, offer them fruit and raw vegetables, like celery and carrots. They might say they don't like it but you never know until you try! 
  • Encourage your children to drink water instead of juice. Juice has just about as many calories in it as soft drinks. Set a limit on juice and soft drinks. Aim for no more than 1-2 a week; this will vary for every child because all children are different sizes and weights. 
  • If your children eat at fast food restaurants frequently, help them resist the temptation to upsize their meals. Stick with small portions, and don't go out as often.
  • Help your children accept their body. This problem will become a part of your child's life in their teen years, especially in girls. Instead of dieting, encourage them to get active. Dieting turns into an up and down cycle of weight gain and weight loss that is not healthy or good for them. 
  • If your child is overweight, it is important that you talk to your doctor. They will help you with setting realistic weight-loss goals, and with developing a plan to achieve those goals.

Be a role model!

Your children will learn most about healthy active living from you. This is the most important part of getting your child more active and healthy. Your child takes after you. I refer back to the saying "monkey see, monkey do", because it is exactly what it is!

Being active…

  • Helps children relax
  • Increases children's flexibility
  • Builds strong bones and strengthens muscles
  • Helps children get to and sustain a healthy weight
  • Promotes good posture and balance
  • Promotes positive attitudes
  • Improves children's fitness levels
  • Helps children feel better about themselves and their bodies.

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