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How to Encourage Family Exercise

How to Encourage Family Exercise


It sounds almost like a comedian's gag: How do you get a couch potato off the couch?


But there's nothing funny about the punch line, especially when that snack-munching bag of laundry propped up in front of the television is just a teenager or younger.


Or when the National Center for Health Statistics says that nearly 15 million youngsters in this country between the ages of 6 and 18 are overweight. Or that the number of overweight children has nearly tripled since 1980.


Health officials agree: The overweight children of today are the most likely to become tomorrow's fat adults and place themselves at risk for a variety of health problems, including high blood pressure, heart attacks and diabetes.


It still brings us back to the main question: How do you get a young couch potato off the couch? The answer has a lot to do with the old adage that you will have more success moving a piece of string if you pull it rather than push it.


Experts at the American Heart Association say it takes commitment: Parents need to make time in their busy schedules for long walks, bicycle riding and physical activity that the whole family can enjoy. One of the best things parents can do is teach children life-long exercise habits.


It might surprise you, but the kids themselves seem to agree. A recent survey conducted by the Gallup organization found three out of five kids who exercise regularly said they did so because their parents and family encouraged them to do so.


If you tell your kids to exercise, they won't do it, experts say. Depending on the child's age, you need to say "Let's go play" instead.


How to begin? Try an after-dinner walk, a morning jog, raking leaves or playing soccer or touch football as a family. You can even join a gym and work out together.

Wellness Library Health Ink and Vitality Communications © 2016


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