Parents, Encourage Physical Activity!

8 03 2012

Spring and summer approach, and we begin to see the winter coats and boots come off and a new appreciation for summer activities blossom.

I am thankful to reside in the lovely “Aloha” state of Hawaii, where beautiful weather conditions grace us daily, although in any locality, it is difficult at times to keep our kids excited about their fitness and encouraged to stay healthy and active.

According to Duane Alexander, M.D., Director of NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), “Lack of physical activity in childhood raises the risk for obesity and its attendant health problems later in life.”

As parents, we cringe at the thought of our children dealing with the long-term life health issues related to obesity, so what can we do to offer a healthy lifestyle? Lead by example.

The Weight Control Information Networks asserts, “Parents have an effect on children’s physical activity habits as well. You can set a good example by going for a walk or bike ride after dinner instead of watching TV. Playing ball or jumping rope with your children shows them that being active is fun.”

These activities can start at nearly any age. My daughter recently turned one year old. After work each day our favorite moments together are playing in the park. We practice “running” (as well as a toddler can), crawling up a steep hill, jumping, climbing, etc. Everything I do, she copies. It is a fun game for both of us!

The same can be done with elementary-age kids. I remember my dad teaching my sister and I how to play baseball. It was the biggest excitement of my day! He would play with us as a reward after we patiently waited for his personal workout to be complete. He encouraged us to play in the same general area as he was exercising to show that he felt physical fitness was important. Years later we competed in 5k races together laughing along the way. He showed me that exercise can be fun, and I enjoy it to this day.

Take the time to enjoy physical activity with your children; it will benefit their lives into adulthood and beyond!

Alexander, D. (2008, July 15). Children’s physical activity drops from age 9 to 15, NIH study indicates.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2010, April 07). How can I help my child be more active?  

By Melissa Parnell – Melissa will appear as an occasional guest blogger on this site. She is working on a graduate degree in Human Services with a concentration in health and wellness. She minored in health and wellness in college and is an AFAA (Aerobics and Fitness Association of America) certified personal trainer.

Image courtesy of Melissa Parnell








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