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Get Your Child Off the Couch!

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, “…an estimated 17 percent of children and adolescents ages 2-19 years of age are overweight.” There are many factors that have contributed to this statistic, one of which is lack of exercise.

Most kids complain about having to turn off the T.V. or video games. They’d rather be holding a remote or game controller than a football or jump rope. But getting kids off the couch and into the great outdoors has many health benefits. It helps keep children busy so they are less likely to snack when they aren’t hungry, keeps them active which burns calories, and encourages a healthy lifestyle which benefits them in the future.

The American Heart Association estimates that most kids get 4 to 6 hours of computer, gaming, or T.V. watching a day. Experts recommend less than 1 to 2 hours daily. So how to get the kids up and moving? Here are some suggestions from the AHA:

  • Make a list of alternative activities, such as playing sports outside, walking pets, or going on a bike ride. If necessary, write them down and keep the list by the T.V. to remind your child the next time he/she heads for the tube.
  • Be active as a family. Play catch, go rollerblading, or plan a relay race. Kids enjoy spending time with parents. This also sends the message that exercise is important.
  • Remove the T.V. from the bedrooms and don’t allow your child to watch television during meal times.
  • Limit the number of hours they watch T.V. by planning the shows ahead of time. Let your child pick one or two shows and only watch those.
  • Don’t use television or video game time as a reward.
  • Set a good example. If you sit on the couch or stare at the computer for hours at a time, it sends a mixed message to your child. The best way to change your child’s behavior is to “practice what you preach.”

For more ideas on how you and your family can get active and have fun together, Web MD has even more great suggestions.