Increasing physical activity has the potential to improve weight loss and maintenance. Studies indicate that an increase in sedentary activities, particularly television viewing, and an overall decrease in physical activity are contributing to an increased incidence of overweight and obesity in children and adolescents.
Strategies to increase physical activity should include increases in structured and non structured physical activity and reductions in the amount of time spent in sedentary activities.
Kids need about 60 minutes of physical activity a day, but this doesn’t have to happen all at once. Several short 10- or even 5-minute periods of activity throughout the day are just as good. If your children are not used to being active, encourage them to start with what they can do and build up to 60 minutes a day.
Here are some ways to help your child move every day:
- Set a good example. Show your child that you are physically active and that you have fun doing it.
- Encourage your child to join a sports team or class, such as basketball, dance, or soccer at school or at your local community or recreation center.
- If your child feels uncomfortable participating in activities like sports, help him or her find physical activities that are fun and not competitive, such as dancing to music, playing tag, jumping rope, or riding a bike.
- Be active together as a family. Assign active chores such as making the beds, sweeping/raking, or vacuuming. Plan active outings such as a walk through a local park.
Kids spend a lot of time sitting down watching TV, playing video games, or using the computer or hand-held devices like cell phones. The following tips may help cut back on some of this inactive time:
- Limit screen time to no more than 2 hours per day.
- Help your child find fun things to do like acting out favorite books or stories, or doing a family art project.
- Encourage your child to get up and move during TV commercials and discourage snacking when sitting in front of a screen.
Activities that kids choose to do on their own are often best. Your child may enjoy trying the some of these activities:
- Catching and throwing a ball
- Climbing on a jungle gym or climbing wall
- Jumping rope
- Playing hopscotch
- Riding a bike
- Shooting baskets
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