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Don’t Just Sit There: Active Kids Are Healthy Kids

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The health benefits of physical activity for children are well-documented, including stronger bones and muscles, lower obesity rates, and a lower risk of serious health concerns such as type 2 diabetes or blood pressure and cholesterol problems. Active children tend to sleep well and have better emotional outlooks, too. Plus, exercising can be just plain fun. Here are a few ways to get your kids moving and instill healthy habits for life.

Lead by Example
Telling kids to go outside and play while you sit in front of the television won’t motivate them to move, and it might build some resentment, too. Go outside and throw the ball around as a family, or take a turn being “it” in a game of tag. Model good habits such as choosing stairs over elevators, taking breaks from sedentary tasks to fit in a little exercise, and trying new sports and activities.

On the Playground
There’s nothing worse than dragging kids to the playground only to hear them complain that there’s nothing to do there. Don’t let your family ride the bench. Start a game of follow-the-leader, leading little ones up, over and through the  playground equipment. Use your imagination, too. Tell the kids the jungle gym is a pirate ship and they must climb aboard or challenge kids to see who can swing high enough to launch themselves into orbit on the swing set.

At the Park
Stretching out on a picnic blanket is one way to enjoy a public park, but to encourage kids to stay active, bring a ball or flying disc for them to play with instead. Check with your local parks department about bike trails or paved trails that allow skating for fun ways to take in some natural beauty on the go. Hiking, climbing and boating are other great family activities that help everyone get some exercise while enjoying the great outdoors.

Activities
Encourage kids to try new activities, helping them find classes and team sports they love. Dance, soccer, baseball, karate—the benefits of these activities extend far beyond just exercise to encompass social skill-building and higher self-esteem as well. Change activities with the seasons; swim all summer, try flag football in autumn, ski throughout the winter and play softball in spring. When planning family vacations, look for new ways to get active such as windsailing, snowboarding or snorkeling.

Making exercise fun instead of considering it a chore helps kids learn to love physical activity and carry that sentiment with them into adulthood. Laughing and playing in the park today not only creates memories your whole family will cherish, it also sets kids on the path to a long and healthy life.

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