Like parent, like child

[This is the fourth in a series of articles here at FitNotesNH on the role exercise plays in preventing and/or helping to improve certain medical conditions.  We’ve explored diabetes, arthritis, stress and more.  Look for the FitWise logo! Our hope is that you will learn along with your fellow Wellness Center members.]

Childhood obesity is epidemic, and a number of factors contribute to it. But researchers at Duke University have found that parents play a big role in establishing healthy exercise and eating habits in their children. If parents aren’t exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet, their children are less likely to as well.

Encouraging your children to exercise and eat healthy is as easy—or hard—as doing it yourself. Kids mimic what they see, and if they see you head for the sofa after supper, they’ll probably imitate that behavior. On the other hand, if you take pleasure in physical activity, they’ll learn that as well. Here are some tips for training your kids to exercise.

Do it together. You’ll both benefit from the activity.

Set a pace they can handle. If your child wants to run with you, plan your route so they can run a shorter distance and not get overwhelmed.

  • Make it fun. Run, jump, dance—it doesn’t have to be an official “workout.” As long as you and your child are moving, you’re both getting exercise.
  • Find what works. Some kids are competitive and need the excitement of group sports. Other will gravitate towards non-competitive activities like hiking.
  • Make it easy. Keeping something as simple as a jump rope or hula hoop handy can inspire kids to get moving.
  • Be sneaky. Find ways to work exercise into your everyday routine, such as climbing stairs instead of taking the elevator.
  • If your kids are into video games, steer them towards motion sensor games that get them up and moving rather than simply exercising their thumbs.

Creating a healthy environment for your kids means demonstrating how much fun exercise can be.

 SOURCES:

http://www.dukehealth.org/health_library/news/parenting-and-home-environment-influence-children-s-exercise-and-eating-habits

http://www.webmd.com/parenting/raising-fit-kids/move/slideshow-kids-love-exercise

 

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