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Tips for starting kids on the path to a healthier lifestyle.

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It’s never too early to teach kids that exercise is good for their physical and mental health. Children age 6 and older should get at least an hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Additionally, it is recommended that they do some muscle- and bone-strengthening activity a few days a week.

There are plenty of ways to get kids moving, no matter what their age or interests. Kids don’t have to be involved in organized sports to be more active if that’s not their thing. The key is to find activities your child likes so they’re more likely to look forward to doing them.

You are your children’s best role model. If being physically active is important to you, it’s more likely they’ll follow in your footsteps. And one of the best ways to show your kids that exercising can be fun is to do it together.

“From video games, to lack of daily PE classes in the majority of schools, to an overall more sedentary lifestyle for many American families, many children today are not getting the important physical activity that they need on a daily basis. When families set aside time to have a daily physical activity for all family members, they are modeling those healthy behaviors that we hope children carry into adulthood.”

-Mindy L. Calandro, MD, Pediatric Medicine

Here are 5 easy ways to get the whole family moving more:

  1. Play more. Exercise doesn’t have to be structured and should not be something to be dreaded, especially for kids. Moving more should be all about playing more. Fly a kite, go on a scavenger hunt, run through a sprinkler or play a game of wiffle ball.
  2. Find activities that fit your child’s interests. If your child loves to dance, turn on some music and have a dance party. Have kids that love to explore nature? Go on a hike to collect leaves or rocks.
  3. Plan active family outings. Substitute an evening of TV with a walk around your neighborhood. Spend an afternoon at the zoo. Explore a local park. Get kids involved in planning activities so they look forward to doing them.
  4. Park farther away. Kids begging to go to a movie or the mall? That’s okay! Just don’t choose the closest spot so you all get in a few extra minutes of walking on the way to and from your destination.
  5. Check off your to-do list together. Get the whole family on board with tasks that get you moving, such as raking leaves or washing the car. You’ll spend quality time together while you get things done – and you’ll be doing something good for everyone’s health. You can even make a game out of it to add to the fun.

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Date Last Reviewed: June 17, 2019

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Julie Halvorsen, DO, FAAP

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