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Children love to move. They need to move. A child who sits around all day is up to no good or is driving his parent crazy!  Kids need lots of physical activity to maintain good health and a body weight that is right for them, along with plenty of healthy food options.  Lack of daily physical activity encourages childhood obesity.  These perspectives and guidelines may help your child become more active:

The Physical Prescription:  Duration, intensity, and type of activity do matter. While any movement is better than none, experts recommendat least one hour of physical activity per day, both planned activity and free play. Walking the dog is not enough– experts want to see children sweaty, red-faced, and breathless each and every day. If you are relying on school efforts, be aware that daily recess and physical education varies from school to school and may not be a significant contributor to your child’s daily activity level.

Nurture with Nature:  The number one predictor of physical activity in children is time spent outdoors.  Get outside routinely as a family and encourage your child to play outside as often as possible.

Get in Gear:  Let your child pick out their own active wear, shoes and sports aids.  Whether an independent exerciser or part of an athletic team, children enjoy having gear that supports their activities.  Who doesn’t love running to music or shooting baskets in the driveway?  Having the right gear can rally excitement around being active and can promote physical movement.  For the teen, gym memberships, pedometers, and exercise groups/classes can be a positive motivator, as well.

Walk your Talk:  More than 40% of a child’s health is determined by behavior. That’s more than genetics, healthcare, or social influences. You areyour child’s behavior barometer—your child will do what you do. So get moving!

Breaking Down Barriers: Identify any roadblocks that may get in the way of your family’s activity level, such as busy work schedules. Find solutions, not excuses, for dealing with these road blocks and how it will fit into your unique family circumstances.

Be Tech Savvy:  If your child is having a difficult time giving up video games, try compromising with ones that are more active and interactive.  Hands-on video games, TV exercise programs, and interactive websites can be the beginning of increased activity for your child.

Physical activity is a necessary part of being healthy and having a healthy future.  And often, one avenue of activity is not the magic pill—it is a conglomeration of several efforts, each and every day.  How does your child stay physically active?