The obesity epidemic in United States is the country’s most serious health problems. Adult obesity rates have doubled since 1980, from 15 to 30 percent, while obesity rates among children have more than tripled. Would you believe that more than one-quarter of health care costs are now related to obesity?
According to the Food Research and Action Center here are some reasons that have contributed to obesity:
- Increased consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages
- Increased snacking
- Larger portion sizes
- Higher calorie-density of foods
- More meals consumed or purchased away from home
- More exposure to advertising that encourages food consumption and promotes unhealthy foods
- Value-sizing of less nutritious foods (e.g., value meals at fast food outlets)
- Increased media use (e.g., television, video games)
- Limited access to safe, convenient recreation facilities or walking areas
- Limited opportunities for activity during the workday
- Limited time for daily physical education and recess in schools
I think in addition to the list mentioned above the way grocery stores are merchandised also plays a role in obesity. Some foods are marketed as healthy, low fat, or fat-free, but may contain more calories than the fat containing food they are designed to replace. It is important to read food labels for nutritional information and to eat in moderation.
We all know that unhealthy foods aren’t the only factor that contributes to obesity. Finding time to work out can also be a challenge. And for parents it can be especially difficult to find time to work out because of the full plates that they often juggle especially when kids are involved in extracurricular activities.
But, finding time for regular physical activity is so important that it should be a priority placed on your calendar, just like your kids’ softball game. A parent needs to exercise not only for them, but also for their kid’s benefit.
It’s important to set a good example.
If your children never see you engage in fitness or if they hear you complain about working out, then they are going to have a negative image of exercise. Let them know that you work out to stay healthy, to be strong and to have more energy and stamina (so you can keep up with them)!
The big question is how to make it a priority that fits in your schedule. Well, it’s actually easier than you may think. With a little planning you can find ways to incorporate workouts into the time you spend with your children. Regardless of what age your children are, there’s a way to find time to work out (often even with your kids)!
So in celebration of Family Health and Fitness Day USA on September 27th here are 10 fun ways to exercise as a family:
1) In the family room
Do jumping jacks or squats jumps and put on their favorite music.
Try doing step-ups on a stool while you wait for food in the microwave. Take turns and see how many each member of the family can do for a minute.
3) Go for a 15 minute pre-or post-dinner walks
To make walking more enticing sing to your favorite songs.
4) Turn TV commercials into fitness breaks
Invent names for simple exercises like squats, push-ups, and sit-ups, and then do them together till the show comes back on. Call them Super Star sit-ups or Ben the Builder muscle builders.
Autumn is around the corner. Make a game out of catching autumn leaves see who can catch the most yellow, orange, or red ones, then rake them into piles — give the kids child-sized rakes so they can help — and have fun jumping in them, or take turns completely covering one another in leaves.
Kids are great at digging up dirt, so let them turn over the soil and help you plant new bulbs. Research shows that gardening is as good as weight training when it comes to preventing osteoporosis, and if you’re planting vegetables, it can make them more appetizing to kids.
7) Walk the dog
New research from North American Association on the Study of Obesity shows that dog-owners had more fun losing weight and were able to keep it off longer than non-pup-owners. Don’t have a pooch? Offer to walk your neighbor’s dog.
8) Create an activity day
Take the family bowling, to a rock wall, to a water park or even to a high ropes course. These activities are fun and adventurous for the whole family and do not have the negative connotations of ‘working out’ that kids don’t want to hear. These events will not only keep your family physically active, but they will also give your family a chance to communicate and bond during a day full of fun challenges and fitness.
9) Video games
Not all video games are about becoming a couch potato. The Wii Fit and many others now have workout-themed games. Encourage your kids to get physical by skiing, dancing, balancing and more.
10) Water balloons
Make a game out of water balloons. Fill out balloons with water. A child and one of the parents’ pairs up with the child and toss the balloon to each other 3 feet apart from each other for two minutes. Count how many times the balloon was tossed and the team with the highest number wins.
After all that, you’ve groaned, sweated a bit, laughed and burned calories, while still getting stuff done and being with the kids. Plus, the tykes saw their parent actively pursuing a healthy lifestyle, setting the stage for them to also make fitness a priority in their lives.
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