March is National Nutrition Month, when the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reminds everyone to return to the basics of healthy eating. It is also the time of year when the Academy celebrates expertise of registered dietitian nutritionists as the food and nutrition experts.
Today's kids watch as much as 35 hours of television per week. But parents (and grandparents) can help change this cultural norm and motivate kids to move more. How? By leading by example and getting in the exercise game too!
Support Your Kids' Activities
Be a role model for your kids. Present physical activity as an important time to take care of your body and health, rather than a chore. Find activities you enjoy and be active for at least 30 minutes five days a week. Remember, adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week, and children need 60 minutes of moderate- or vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity each day.
Praise, reward and encourage your kids' physical activity by providing activity-related equipment, games or outings. Plan time in a day's schedule to engage in 60 minutes of physical activity each day, which can accumulate with shorter chunks (at least 10 minutes at a time) throughout the day.
- Head for the nearest park, swing set or jungle gym after school.
- Jump rope with your kids or organize a neighborhood jump rope group.
- When foul weather strikes, play active indoor games.
- Organize your family room or living room for more activity. Think kid's yoga or dancing to music after dinner.
- Make time for a half-day family activity each weekend, such as a family walk, bike ride or tennis match. Ask your kids which activity they most want to do.
- Play a backyard game such as freeze tag or Frisbee.
- Set up a backyard net for badminton or volleyball.
- Play catch or soccer with your kids or organize a neighborhood game.
- Encourage kids to participate in active chores such as light housework, raking leaves, sweeping the walks or cleaning the garage. Make the chores fun to do — turn on the radio — and do the chores with them.
- Take a nature hike to collect leaves and rocks to make a collage.
- Walk or bike to the local library to borrow a book.
- Encourage fun physical activity time during kids' free time. Next time your kids say, "I'm bored," offer to shoot hoops or play catch.
- Enroll your kids in organized activities. These are a great way for kids to get fit. Encourage participation in a variety of activities such as soccer, swimming or dance.
- Gather the family together and play interactive computer games that require physical activity.
- Get up early with your kids to walk the dog before school.
- Limit the extracurricular time your kids spend in front of a computer or TV to less than two hours daily.
- Use dance DVDs for some physically-active TV time or encourage dance video games that involve the whole body to play.
- Keep the TV in the living room and not in kids' bedrooms. This will help decrease how much they watch as well as what they watch.
- Turn off the TV during meals.