September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. While some weight gain as children get older is natural and expected as they grow, gaining too much weight can cause problems. Overweight and obese children are at greater risk for health problems as they grow older. Many factors can contribute to a child’s risk of becoming obese, including how physically active they are. Physical activity behaviors are shaped by our environment, which provides a great opportunity for families to help each other maintain a healthy weight!
Encouraging physical activity can help prevent your children from gaining excess weight. Here are some ways to get them moving!
- Set a good example by living an active lifestyle yourself. Include your children in your physical activity when possible. For example, they may enjoy taking a walk with you or unwinding after a long day at school by practicing yoga.
- Provide opportunities for them to be active at home. Keep riding toys, balls, and big blocks on hand for toddlers. Preschoolers may enjoy tricycles, hula hoops, balls, and yoga mats. School-aged children may like to have access to sporting equipment (basketballs, soccer balls, baseballs, etc.), weights, and resistance bands once they’re old enough, as well as exercise balls and mats for yoga and other body weight exercises. Also, having a safe environment for outdoor play can open a world of possibilities for physical activity, whether it’s your backyard or a sidewalk through your neighborhood!
- Limit screen time to help children get more active time in their day rather than sedentary screen time. When they do have screen time (watch TV, play on the computer, etc.) encourage them to take physical activity breaks. Try this workout that can be adapted based on your child’s age and fitness level. This is an especially great way to utilize commercial breaks!
- Incorporate physical activity into your children’s time spent outside of school, such as on nights and weekends. Once they’re old enough for organized sports, they may enjoy joining a sports team. Also, you can plan family outings to the park to find activities the whole family will love. Whatever activity your children choose, aim for them to get at least 60 minutes of exercise daily!
To learn more about how to prevent childhood obesity, visit https://www.cdc.gov/features/childhoodobesity/index.html.
How will you and your family be active today?