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Has your child been loafing on the couch a little too much lately? Only 1 in 3 children are physically active every day. Instead of going outside to play, children and teens are averaging seven hours each day staring at screens, including TVs, computers, phones and tablets.
Kids are choosing screens over fitness, and it shows. Childhood obesity is the most common chronic disease of childhood. It affects a child’s health and well-being now and later in life. Kids who are obese often become obese adults, increasing their risk for serious health issues.
One of the most important things you can do for your child is to encourage healthy habits early in life, including regular exercise.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says: “Physical activity in children and adolescents improves strength and endurance, builds healthy bones and lean muscles, develops motor skills and coordination, reduces fat, and promotes emotional well-being (reduces feelings of depression and anxiety).”
Regular exercise lays the groundwork for a healthy lifestyle. It can help your child learn about the value of teamwork, practicing a skill and meeting challenges. It gives them chance to make friends and gain self-esteem. Healthy, physically active kids are also more likely to be successful in school.
The AAP recommends children 6 years and older should get at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day. It doesn’t need to be done all at once. Break down physical activity into shorter blocks of time. Also, your child doesn’t have to be an athlete. All kids can be physically fit, some just may need more encouragement than others.
How do you get your couch potato kid to fit exercise into their life — and love doing it? Try these 12 tips to get your kid off the couch:
Ask your child's physician about physical activities that are safe for your child. Make sure your child's clothing, equipment and protective gear are comfortable and appropriate for their activity. A proper-fitting helmet for biking is a must!
In addition to regular exercise, encourage your child to eat healthy and get plenty of quality sleep. Healthy habits early in life will set the foundation for a healthy, active life later.
Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness offers programs to help children and teens stay active and build healthy habits to last a lifetime. We offer numerous fitness classes for kids, including gymnastics for preschoolers, basketball clinics for 5- to 12-year-olds, extreme fitness training for teens, children's aquatics classes for kids from 6 months to 12 years of age, and many more.
Learn more about children’s service at Edward-Elmhurst Health.
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