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September is technically National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. But, as parents, we probably should focus on childhood obesity every month, right?
Still, it’s important to bring awareness to such an important subject. As pant sizes in the United States keep getting larger, so do our kiddos. Their weight as kids can affect them throughout their lives.
Scary facts: One in three kids in the U.S. is overweight or obese. And, 43% of parents say their children would rather sit in front of the TV than play outside.
The Internet Takes Over
A couple of decades ago, before internet and electronics were everywhere, kids were always outside. I remember, as a kid, getting excited to play outside. I swam, ran, swung, played ball, played hide and seek in the woods. I would have spent all day outside if I could.
It’s so fun to get outside and just be silly!
I’m fortunate that my kids love being outside as much as I do. But, I was a preschool teacher once. As I excitedly lined up my class to get on the playground, many of them met me with groans – and even cries. It boggled my mind how many kiddos would complain when they had to step foot outside for outdoor education.
But, it’s the way of the world now. Why go outside when we have a perfectly good iPad to use, right? Children aren’t really the ones to blame. We responsible adults are.
Perhaps we glue ourselves to our own phones too much? And, are we really doing all we can to make sure our kids get outside?
Fighting Childhood Obesity, One Active Step(fan) at a Time
Fortunately, there are some childhood obesity warriors out there who work to bring awareness to the desperate situation. Stepfan Taylor is one of them.
The NFL running back grew up an overweight kid. He was athletic, but always self-conscious of his body compared to others. He’d even wear t-shirts in the pool to cover his body. By 6th grade, though, Stepfan decided to make a difference in his life by getting more active and eventually making it to the NFL.
After an injury caused Stepfan to put his football career on hold. But, the time off has given him the chance to turn to something else that’s deeply important to him: childhood obesity. He even became the co-creator of ROXs, a gaming system designed to get kids on their feet and moving around.
He also works to educate families on the importance of an active lifestyle for our world’s most vulnerable group.
Important Tips for Getting Little Butts Off the Couch
These tips are directly from Stepfan himself to help encourage children to get moving:
- Kids learn most of their traits from their parents by observing their behaviors. Make sure you are leading by example and joining in on physical activities when you can such as hikes, bike rides or taking yoga and aerobic classes together.
- Establish a regular routine and limit screen time. Set up a weekly schedule of when and how long children can watch television. Also schedule daily pre-or post-dinner family walks or other activities.
- Find or create interactive games that will not only get kids on their feet, but will get their imaginations working as well. If there’s a fun twist to an activity kids will be more willing to do it. ROXs Run&Scan is a new game that combines tech kids love with imagination and exercise. It’s basically a real-life video game where kids are the characters and must complete tasks and activities to earn points and win.
- Don’t raise kids to think of doing physical activity as a punishment. Reward them for doing homework or a household chore with a game of kickball or a visit to a park.
- A fun and productive way to get kids physically active is making household chores and lawn work into a fun game to see who can accomplish a task the fastest or put on some music that will get kids dancing along while completing tasks.
Parents: It’s Up to You!
Are you setting the example you want for your kids? Get off the couch, get outside, play a game of kickball with your kids.
I’ll be the first to admit that the last thing I feel like doing after work is exercising. But, I find that when I make it fun, I exercise without thinking. How do I make it fun? By getting my kids involved!
We have a running track at the end of our road. It’s our favorite spot to go for a friendly “race”. My son loves being in 1st place, so that motivates him to keep going when I’m on his tail. My daughter wants to keep beating her 1-mile run record. I just have a lot of fun seeing their motivation and getting myself healthy in the process!
We all need to work together to make our children healthier. Put down the game controller and create an obstacle course outside. I guarantee it won’t just be good for your body, but also for your mind!
Amy is a mom of two, freelance writer, and blog manager who works with family-focused businesses to improve their content strategies. You can find her published work on Reader’s Digest Online, MSN, Niche, Frugal For Less, and other lifestyle publications.