It can be extremely challenging to motivate your sedentary child to become more active. But the need has never been more important. In the past 30 years, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents.
The health ramifications of eating too much and not getting enough exercise can be serious. Kids who are obese are likely to be obese as adults and are therefore more at risk for adult health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer and osteoarthritis.
Physical activity not only helps with weight control, but also leads to multiple benefits in and of itself, including improved blood sugar control, heart health, and benefits for self-esteem and emotional health.
If you are trying to find ways to get your children to become more active, consider the following:
- Get active yourself! Set a good example for your child by establishing exercise as a time you spend together.
- Establish a new routine together: go for a daily brisk walk around the neighborhood.
- Go to the park and use the jungle gym equipment.
- Get a family gym membership.
- Set limits on screen time for the entire family.
- Find an organized sport or activity that your child shows interest in and sign him or her up.
The activity doesn’t have to be competitive; dance lessons or horseback riding classes can be great fun as well as a great workout, without the pressure to “win.”
Remember, any physical activity is beneficial. Start slow and don’t set up unrealistic expectations. You can best help your child by deciding to make physical activity a family priority.
This Scripps Health and Wellness tip was provided by Dania Lindenberg, MD, a pediatrician at Scripps Coastal Medical Center in San Diego.