by Ronny Marie Tucker
First Lady Michelle Obama started the Let’s Move campaign to tackle the national issue of childhood obesity. The goal is to provide kids, schools, families and communities with simple tools to eat better, be active and live healthier. While parents and guardians play a huge role in the health and wellness of their children, there are several ways for children to make healthier choices on their own. The following five steps are ways your children can take the initiative to fight childhood obesity and be an example to their siblings and friends.
1. Move Everyday!
Kids should be physically active for at least 60 minutes everyday. Go walking, running, swimming, play basketball, jump rope, roller skate, run and dance or play Frisbee. Help them choose an activity they really enjoy so it doesn’t necessarily seem like exercise. Not only will physical activity help burn calories and possibly lead to weight loss, but it also relieves stress, improves self-esteem and helps with sleep. It’s summertime! Allow kids to get outside, gather some friends and play a game, such as tag, instead of staying inside playing video games.
2. Try a New Fruit or Veggie!
Fruits and vegetables supply the body with many vitamins, minerals and nutrients. Kids do not need to cut calories like adults because their bodies are still growing. Instead, they should focus on filling their caloric intake with healthy food choices like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, 1-2 percent dairy products and lean meats. Encourage them to grab a fruit instead of candy, snack on vegetables instead of chips or choose yogurt over ice cream.
3. Drink Plenty of Water!
Put down the sodas and soft drinks. Instead, drink water during your meals. Many of these drinks contain lots of added sugar–often considered “empty calories” because they serve no nutritional value. Try flavored waters, sparkling water or flavor your own water with lemon or a splash of fruit. Opt for 100 percent fruit juices whenever possible because fruit is naturally sweet.
4. Do Jumping Jacks to Break up TV Time!
Kids spend too much time in front of a TV and the computer, and fill most of their day with sedentary activities. Do jumping jacks or push-ups during commercials, stand at the computer instead of sitting or get audio books to play in your headset while you go for a walk. The campaign calls these “Let’s Move Breaks!”
5. Help Make Dinner!
Make dinner a family affair. Talk to your kids about foods they would like to try. Go grocery shopping together and cook as a team. Parents can use this time to teach kids about different vegetables or fruits, the process of cooking and how these foods will benefit our bodies. Kids can get involved by helping set the table, cutting up fruits or veggies or filling everyone’s glass with cold water.
For more information on the Let’s Move campaign, visit: www.letsmove.gov