Adults Healthy News Kids Teens — 01 October 2012

By: Jodie Shield, RD

The key to getting kids to be more physically active is to focus on the fundamentals – family and fun.  The best way to do this is to make sure the entire family is involved.  After all, it’s hard for anyone to make changes on their own.  Creating family habits around daily physical activity can make it easier for your child or teen to reach and maintain a healthy weight. Also, be sure to factor in fun. Just like kids eat food because it tastes good, the same logic applies to being active.  According to a Fitness for Youth survey, the two main reasons kids participate in sports and exercise are to have fun and to socialize.  Here are several ideas to help you take action and get your family started with physical activity for a healthy lifestyle. For more ideas check out my new book, Healthy Eating, Healthy Weight for Kids and Teens.

  • Be the family team captain. Kids look up to their parents as role models. If you make daily physical activity a priority, your child or teen will follow your lead. Kids are more likely to limit TV and computer screen time if you do, and if they have fun family alternatives. And remember, as captain you get to call the plays. Kids will be more likely to listen to your request  to “go outside and play!” when you join in.
  • Turn chores into fun activities. Rake leaves together and take turns jumping in the piles. Shovel snow together and build a snowman or fort. Wash the car and have a water fight. Garden together and see who can pull the most weeds.
  • Plan an action-packed family adventure. Spend the weekend bike riding, horse back riding, or hiking together. Plan a family vacation to the beach, canoeing, or camping.
  • Celebrate special days with live action. Plan birthday parties, graduations, and family reunions around fun activities like bowling, playing softball, or going to a park or playground. Play active party games such as musical chairs, freeze dance, horseshoes, and relay races.
  • Join a fitness center. Sign up for a family membership to your local park district, YMCA, or gym. Look for places that offer classes like yoga, basketball, wall climbing, martial arts, and weight lifting.
  • Participate actively in charity events. Sign the family up for active fundraising events like 5-K runs and walkathons.

Kids and parents: grab your sneakers and get moving!  What’s your family’s favorite “fun”physical activity to do together?



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About Author


Jodie Shield, M.Ed., R.D., L.D.N. Jodie Shield has been a consultant and spokesperson in the field of nutrition for over two decades. A former national media spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association (1989-1995), she has worked extensively with the Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center and taught nutrition and medical dietetics at the University of Illinois. Currently she is a complemental faculty member of the College of Health Sciences in the Department of Clinical Nutrition at Rush University in Chicago.

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