SolveYourProblem Series: Childhood Obesity
OMG, My Child Is Way Too Fat. Help Me!



Top 3 Ways To Get Your Child Active & Off The Couch

There are two primary causes for childhood obesity. The first is a poor diet. The second cause for childhood obesity is a sedentary life. While the American lifestyle poses some challenges, overcoming childhood obesity or preventing it is a simple matter. The first step may be to help children become more active.

When you move your body you burn calories. You also learn the joy of being active. Today children are often found sitting in front of their computer. They're found using their iPod or playing their video games. Or they're just sitting in front of the television. This is unhealthy and a sure way to gain weight. The key is to get your child active. Here's how:

#1 Help your child find an activity they enjoy.

Exercise doesn't need to be "exercise." In fact, you'll be hard pressed to convince a child to join you at the gym for a spin class or to run around the track. However, football, dancing, martial arts and tennis are fun activities your child can enjoy. The key is to find an activity your child is interested in. Here are a few options to consider:

  • Dancing – break dancing/hip hop, ballet, tap, jazz
  • Ice skating/Hockey
  • Football
  • Tumbling/gymnastics
  • Rock climbing
  • Skateboarding
  • Martial Arts/Muay Thai/Jiu jitsu/karate
  • Soccer
  • Basketball
  • Tennis
  • Bicycling/Mountain Biking/BMX/Cyclocross
  • Swimming

The list really could go on and on. There's no end to the number of fun activities a child can learn and participate in. Check out your local YMCA for options and leagues.

#2 Support your child through the discomfort.

It's tough to try a new sport or activity. It's even more difficult if you're not used to moving your body. It can be embarrassing if you're overweight. It can be embarrassing if a little exercise makes you feel out of breath. However, a child is never going to move beyond the embarrassment and discomfort without a little push.

Parents and adults need to support a child to be motivated and confident, and to work through the challenges and struggles. They will come out as better people in the end. And imagine how great they're going to feel when they persevere and learn a new activity. They'll have fun and lose weight in the process.

#3 Get active with your child.

Sometimes the only way to get a child to be more active and to support them is to exercise with them. Ride bikes together. Go for walks and on hikes together. Take a martial arts class together. It's a great opportunity to be a role model for your child. It can also be a bonding moment. Children learn by the actions of the adults around them. When you embrace movement and activity in your life, your child can too.

In addition to the tips and strategies outlined here, consider putting a limit on electronic devices. Limit the time a child can watch television, surf the internet, play video games or use their iPod. Experts recommend no more than two hours a day. That's still a lot of time. However, your child won't miss the electronics if they're out having fun and getting active.

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