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Turning Family Time into Active Time

For a lot of families, Sunday afternoons are a time to be together at the movies or the mall. As enjoyable as those outings may be, start thinking about spending some of that family time doing physical activities that all of you like.

Some overweight children are so averse to exercising that the first step in the right direction needs to be taken with their families. They may feel much more comfortable being active with their parents and siblings than with their peers, at least to start with. So why not play catch in the backyard, or dust off the tennis rackets in the closet and spend an hour hitting a tennis ball at the neighborhood courts?

Rather than going to the movies, take a family hike in the hills near your home. When the whole family is involved, your overweight child is more likely to join in. Once he starts losing weight and gets more accustomed to moving his body, he may be more willing to step out and join a swimming program at the YMCA or take karate lessons at the local martial arts studio.

Spend a few moments thinking of other activities that your entire family can do together. Remember, the activity should be fun.

Suggestions For Active Family Activities

  • Go to the park and throw the football back and forth.
  • Play tag in the front yard.
  • Go to the community pool for a family swim.
  • Buy a kite, put it together as a family activity, and fly it in the park. While you hold onto the kite string, let your child run with the kite until the wind catches it and sends it aloft.
  • Take a family bike ride.
  • Wax the car as a family activity.
  • Go to the mall—not only to shop, and certainly not to spend time at the food court, but to walk from one end of the mall to the other.
  • During the holiday season, take a family walk in the evening and enjoy the holiday lights on the homes in the neighborhood.

When you join in, your child will see that you believe physical activity is important, and you’ll become his most important role model.

Talking With Your Pediatrician

Before your child moves from a sedentary to a more active way of life, and particularly if he has any health problems, talk to your pediatrician. Your pediatrician will be able to tell you how to ensure that exercising is a safe and enjoyable experience for your child. Above all, ask the pediatrician whether your child has any physical limitations that you need to keep in mind. For example, many parents think that children who have asthma can’t play outdoors on a cold day, or they’ll risk having asthmatic episodes. Your pediatrician can help you and your child plan for safe outdoor activity by including this option in your child’s asthma plan.

Last Updated
A Parent's Guide to Childhood Obesity: A Road Map to Health (Copyright © 2006 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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