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Fitting Exercise into Your Family’s Schedule

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Over the past twenty years, overweight amongst children and teens has doubled. Furthermore, overweight has been linked to an increased risk for type 2 diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Children learn by modeling the behavior of their parents. By maintaining a physically active lifestyle with your family you can improve the health of your child while preventing him or her from developing a lifestyle of sedentary behavior.

  • Put exercise into your family’s schedule -actually schedule it into the calendar.
  • Make it routine: schedule a time each day as you would other appointments.
  • Include activities you enjoy so you will look forward to your exercise.
  • Keep your exercise equipment (shoes, bike helmets, rollerblades) visible and easily accessible.
  • Use social accountability -make play dates with other parents include an outside outing.

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, adults (age 18 and over) should strive to achieve 30 minutes of physical activity five or more days a week and children should strive for 60 minutes of activity a day. The biggest problem facing families is how to fit this into their already full schedules. Try some of the exercise tips below to help your family reach their goal.

Everyday

  • Get outdoors: take evening family walks
  • Walk or bike to school
  • Include running, jumping, hopping, and climbing
  • Walk the dog – they need exercise too
  • Walk to the store
  • Park the car further away
  • Take stairs instead of the elevator
  • Play in the garden

On the Weekend

  • Hire a babysitter to spend time with your younger child while you exercise with the older child.
  • Take a family trip to the beach or park and spend the day actively playing.
  • Schedule a family outing such as biking, walking, rollerblading, or hiking.

Cut Down On

  • Watching TV
  • Playing computer games
  • Browsing the Internet
  • Sitting for more than 30 minutes at a time
  • Video games
  • Watching DVDs and/or movies

All it takes is 30 days to make fitness a habit. So what are you waiting for?



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About the Author

Christina currently provides outpatient counseling to both adult and pediatric populations in Virginia. Christina is also the lead nutrition educator for 7-3-3-1 Healthy Families Having Fun, a family-based lifestyle intervention program. Christina holds a co-chair position for both the Partnership for a Healthier Alexandria Healthy Lifestyles Workgroup and the Northern District Virginia Dietetic Association State Legislation. Christina’s passion lies in providing nutrition education to underserved populations and in working towards policy change to support the role of the dietitian in promoting health.


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