Exercise Your Influence

We all know our children are like little sponges — they soak up everything.  We also know they inadvertently play “monkey see, monkey do”.  This is evident in that they repeat what they hear, mimic behavior and genuinely just want to be like us (the big people).  I’m sure most of you go out of your way to use proper grammar, exhibit good manners and overall demonstrate to your child how to be a good corporate citizen.  I think we also need to teach them healthy habits.

Let’s be honest, no one loves going to the dentist.  I certainly don’t, but just this morning my daughter and I went and I tried to showed the enthusiasm of a trip to Disney World.  60 minutes later we both had clean teeth, new tooth brushes and she had a trinket from the treasure box.  On the way out she says, “Mom the dentist is fun — look at my teeth, I look like Cinderella.”  (Meanwhile my gums were aching.)

I think the same holds true with exercise.  We exercise, show enthusiasm for sports and outdoor activity and our children will catch on.  It’s alarming to me how many children in this country are overweight.  According to Beaumont’s Healthy Kids Program, the prevalence has tripled over the past three decades.  Overweight children are at risk for developing problems such as:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Pulmonary/lung disorders
  • Depression
  • Low self-esteem

We all know its tough enough being a kid without something “different” about us.
Exercise is one of the best ways to fight obesity and keep everyone healthy. Your kids pay attention to what you do.  Whether you’re on a men’s softball team, play hockey with the girls, run or even go to the gym, let your kids know and tell them how much you like it and how good it is for you.  They’ll catch on.  When I’m on the treadmill my daughter runs in place along side me and often asks to try it once I’m done and the belt has slowed down.  She often talks about how good it is for her.

As you plan your weekly activities, try to schedule in some activities that will raise your heart rates, burn a few calories and allow for some good ole’ family time.  I see more and more families biking in our neighborhood and we go to the pool almost every day.  Maybe you could head to a metro park, play a game of tee ball or duck-duck-goose in your yard, or even try walking to local stores and restaurants instead of driving.  There are countless group activities from karate to ballet to soccer to swimming — and these classes are available for almost any age.  Now, I’m not saying your child has to become Chuck Norris or Michale Phelps, but it’s a good idea to get them enjoying being active early on.

What do you and your family do to stay active together?

–Sara Locricchio, Parenting Program Volunteer

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