How to encourage kids to be more physically active

SAN DIEGO COUNTY – When today’s parents reflect on their childhood, many likely recall seemingly endless days spent playing outdoors. But when today’s kids become tomorrow’s parents, chances are their recollections won’t recall nearly as much time spent idling the days away under the sun.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 17 percent of American children and adolescents between the ages of 2 to 19 are obese. The rise in overweight or obese children is likely a byproduct of several factors, not the least of which is that many of today’s kids prefer to play a video game on the couch instead of going outdoors and being physically active.

The potential ramifications of youngsters choosing a more sedentary lifestyle are dangerous, as it increases their risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, respiratory ailments and joint problems, among other things.

What’s more, numerous studies have found that obese or overweight children are more likely to become obese or overweight adults, which highlights the importance of embracing a physically active lifestyle as a youngster.

Parents know it’s not always easy to get kids to be more physically active. But the following are a few tips parents might find useful when encouraging their kids to embrace a more active lifestyle

• Give toys that encourage physical activity. Instead of buying the latest video game console, give kids balls, bicycles, jump ropes, or a swing set.

• Reduce time spent in front of the television. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents limit their child’s time in front of the television to one to two hours per day, and that includes the time children spend playing video games.

• Remember that physical activity should be fun. Not all kids are athletic, and some will likely bemoan participating in recreational sports leagues. But that doesn’t mean parents should give up on encouraging physical activity.

• Set a positive example. Parents should demonstrate that they are physically active themselves. Go for a nightly bike ride or a walk around the neighborhood with your youngsters in tow.

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