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Here’s why it’s important to teach kids the value of being active throughout their lives.

Childhood obesity is growing at an alarming rate in the United States. Today, about 1 in 5 children ages 6-19 is overweight or obese. This number has more than tripled since the 1970s, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Childhood obesity has both short-term and long-term effects on physical and emotional health. Health experts recommend that kids get at least an hour of exercise or physical activity daily to prevent obesity and to keep bodies healthy and strong.

One great way to get your kids moving more is to make fitness a family affair. If you engage in fun physical activities together, your kids are more likely to stay active and to model their attitude towards fitness after yours. And if you teach them early about the importance of being active, you’re more likely to set them up for a lifetime of healthier habits.

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“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 activities the entire family can enjoy together for some heart-pumping,

calorie-burning and laugh-out-loud fun:

  1. Grab some wheels. Bike riding is a great physical activity for kids and parents, too. Ride around the neighborhood or consider joining a family-friendly bike event. Just be sure everyone is wearing their helmets.
  2. Play games. Remember those games you loved when you were young that kept you running around outside for hours? Play them with the kids for a family-friendly way to be more active. Tag, hopscotch and manhunt are just a few options.
  3. Just dance. Put on your favorite music and move! Nothing says “fun” like a family dance party. This is a great indoor activity on rainy days and can keep kids of all ages entertained for hours.
  4. Put one foot in front of the other. Head to the park or a local trail for a family-friendly hike. Make a game out of spotting different types of birds, trees or flowers.
  5. Dive right in. Kids and water go together naturally. Even leisurely swimming gets the heart pumping or you can challenge family members to swim laps or do exercises in the pool. If there’s no pool around, a sprinkler or hose can keep everyone moving – and laughing.

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Date Last Reviewed: February 14, 2019

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

Medical Review: Andrew P. Overman, DPT, MS, COMT, CSCS

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