Diet and Nutrition

Get Fit With Your Family to Prevent Childhood Obesity

Get Fit With Your Family to Prevent Childhood Obesity

Childhood obesity has increased considerably in the recent years. In developed nations, the rate of childhood obesity has gone up from 11% to 30%, while in developing countries, it has leaped from 4% to 14%. This crisis can be solely attributed to the inactive time spent in front of the television, computer screens, and videogames. The best way to get over this is to involve one's family in activities that might keep them healthier.

Steven Blair, PhD, an expert in the epidemiology of exercise at the University of South Carolina, feels that the modern world tends to support a sedentary life. “A little creativity can help to bring the whole family in the same platform to be more active," adds Blair.

“Many studies have shown that children tend to become more active if their parents are active," says Jennifer Huberty, PhD, associate professor of physical activity and health promotion at the University of Nebraska in Omaha. When parents are active, it gives their children the confidence to be active and also teaches them a range of skills that they need to be healthier. According to behavioral activists, exercise or any other fitness program can be made fun by turning it into a sportive competition. Family members can be the competitors and if the family is large, teams can be created to make it a fun-filled activity.

Motivation to a fitness regime also comes with a reward. Good rewards may include something that will encourage the activity, like a new pair of running shoes or a new pedometer. Making physical activity a part of everyday life also seems to work wonders in encouraging physical activity among family members. Children can be made a part of rigorous household chores. Vacations can be made fun with activities like canoeing, hiking or bicycling.,

Here are some tips to get started with family fitness regime:

  • Household chores that burn more calories, like vacuuming, gardening, washing the car, or clearing the basement, can be made into a family activity in the weekends. This chore can also be converted into a game with rewards like dinner at a favorite restaurant.
  • Explore the local park and enjoy a family hiking.
  • Walking the dog offers an opportunity to be active and encourage everyone in the family to take turns in taking the dog out. If you don’t have a dog, offer a neighbor the services of taking their dog for a walk, if they have one.
  • Many do not feel that dancing is an exercise, but whether it is ballroom dancing or a country dance, it provides all the benefits of exercise. It burns calories and improves the functioning of the heart.
  • Join a gym that offers special rates for families. This will encourage other family members to work out together. Having tangible goals for each of the family member and tallying the results regularly on a chart where everybody can see will provide good results.
  • Increase the activity level gradually by challenging the family members to see who puts in more steps in a week. Keep a track of the results to feel the changes after the activity.
  • Assigning one of the family members as the director of activities will ensure that all the members continue with the program.
  • Plan a vacation with lots of activities, like hiking, cycling, or swimming. You can also plan a walking exploration of the city that every member can participate.

According to the latest Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, kids should engage in a minimum of one hour of aerobic activities per day. Out of this, at least three weeks should be vigorous activity. Including strength training will help to build up the muscles which in turn will burn more calories.