Kids Fitness

Easy ways to keep your kids active

There are a number of easy ways to keep your kids active, but with the dangerous threat childhood obesity poses, does it really need to be easy? According to the Alliance for a Healthier Generation (www.healthiergeneration.org), "about 25 million kids (ages 2-19) in the United States are overweight or at risk of becoming overweight. That's nearly one of every three kids."

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Aside from the social distress of obesity are direct health issues like high cholesterol, high blood pressure and Type II diabetes. The Alliance website also states that experts believe this generation of kids may be the first generation in history to live shorter lives than their parents. The time is now, and I mean right now, to keep our kids active and help them avoid becoming or remaining overweight.

Several ways to combat childhood obesity and keep our kids active are:

1. Go to the playground. It's free! Some playgrounds also have open fields nearby. Those are excellent places for relay races and tag games where the kids can run around. In addition to the exercise, it also wears them out a little. Playgrounds help with social networking, too - for both you and the kids. When it comes to outdoor activities for kids - there are plenty to choose from.

2. Reduce the fast food intake. Studies continually reveal that routine fast food contributes to obesity. Instant gratification simply does not exist. Fast food is convenient, especially with today's hyperactive schedules, but it's important to slow the schedule down if need be to avoid potential health threats.

3. Enroll your kids into park / recreation sports programs. I'm not suggesting you poise your child for professional stardom as an athlete. Not everyone is athletically inclined. But they can still benefit from the practices and regimented conditioning.

4. Go for family walks together. Put one foot in front of the other. Visit a park or walking trail, or circle the block around your home. Getting creative, you can even go to the mall during inclement weather and walk. Best of all, this is another free activity.

5. Turn off the TV. Television can be entertainment, but for most, it's a distraction. Be brave and turn it off, even in the middle of a show, to get up and exercise. Reduce the time spent sitting in front of the TV for you and your kids.

These are but a few suggestions. Some may not work for your family; others will. Be creative, and the possibilities become almost infinite. I intentionally did not address medical issues. There are instances where obesity may be triggered by reasons other than overeating or inactivity. For those, I suggest consulting with a medical professional.

The epidemic of childhood obesity in the United States has but one true solution, in my opinion - one that's by far the most difficult solution available. Fortunately, it's also the most rewarding: parenting. As parents, we are the single most important factor in our child's health. We're the solution to childhood obesity, but only if we take action.

By Maurice Brandeis