One big complaint of many parents is that their children spend too much time inside on the computer, playing video games, texting, and watching television. With our high-tech culture, children grow up thinking that technology trumps many outdoor activities plus any sort of exercise. As a result, childhood obesity is on the rise. In fact, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in the last 30 years childhood obesity has increased 50% in children and has tripled in teens. This is largely a part of lack of physical activity coupled with inadequate eating habits.

Parents as role models

If parents are sitting around during their free time playing on the computer or watching television, chances are their children are doing the same thing. If you as a parent want your children to get active and healthy, be a good role model for them. Make a commitment to get out in the yard and get active by yourself or with your children. There are plenty of ways you can engage in physical activities with your children. Get out there and engage in 30-45 minutes of physical fun with your children on a regular basis. Here are some activities to choose from:
• Play catch with a baseball, football, Frisbee, etc.
• Play soccer.
• Play a game of kickball or whiffle ball.
• Go to the park and play on the equipment with the children or chase them around.
• Play freeze tag.
• Go for a bike ride together.
• Go for a walk together.
• Go roller skating or roller blading.
• Go swimming.
• Jump on a trampoline.

These are just some examples of how you can get out there with your children and get some exercise. You can also enroll them in classes or team sports, like gymnastics, dance, baseball, soccer, karate, football, and more. Have a talk with your children and give them a list of activities that they can choose from to try out. Let them know that regular exercise is very important for their mental and physical health.

Limit technology time

As a parent, it is up to you to limit your children’s technology time. There are many children who get addicted to technology and cannot seem to get away from it. They might get home from school and watch 2 hours of television, spend 1 hour on the internet, play some video games, and then fall asleep watching more television. Monitor the time your children are spending on technology and decide on a reasonable time to engage with it. You have every right to tell them that they can only watch 1 hour of television in the evening and spend 1 hour on the internet (or whatever amount you decide). This will give them a couple of hours to get outside and play. If there are neighborhood children, encourage your kids to get out there and play with them. Put up a basketball hoop or soccer nets. Sometimes kids just need a bit of encouragement to start and then they will find out that they love a certain sport.

Some kids naturally love to run around and be physical and others may struggle. Do what you can to encourage your children to get regular exercise and provide opportunities for them to do so. Get out there on occasion and have fun with them yourself, as all of you will benefit mentally and physically by doing such.