Physical activity and healthy eating habits are essential components of a healthy lifestyle.  Parents and caregivers play a key role in making healthy choices for our children and teaching children to make healthy choices for themselves.

Children need 60 minutes of play every day to grow up to be a healthy weight.  Phsycial activity helps control weight, builds lean muscle, reduces fat, promotes strong bone, muscle and joint development, and decreases the risk of obesity.  Engaging in physical activity as a family can be a fun way to get everyone moving.  Studies show that kids who believe they are competent and have the skills to be physically active are more likely to BE ACTIVE!  And those who feel supported by friends and families to become active, or are surrounded by others interested in physical activity, are more likely to participate.

Here are some great tips from Let’s Move! to help you raise fit kids:

1. Give your children toys that encourage physical activity like balls, kites, and jump ropes.

2. Encourage your children to join a sports team or try a new activity.

3. Limit TV time and keep the TV out of your child’s bedroom.

4. Facilitate a safe walk to and from school a few times a week.

5. Take the stairs instead of the elevator when you’re with your children.

6. Walk around the block after lunch or dinner…or both!!

7. Make a new house rule: no sitting still during television commercials! Get up and move around.  See who can do the most jumping jacks before the show comes back on!!

8. Set aside time on the weekends to spend together doing a fun family activity – such as a family park day, swim day, or bike day.

9. Go exploring!  Find a new trail to hike or bike together.

10. Volunteer to help with after school activity programs or sports teams at your child’s school.

11. Eat more fruits & vegetables:  Kids should eat five fruits and vegetables each day.

12. Reduce fat & sugar:  Give your kids water instead of soda or other sweetened beverages, switch to low or non-fat milk, choose lean cuts of meat and bake or grill them instead of frying.

13. Eat healthier snacks:  Leave a bowl of fruit out and have veggies cut up and ready to eat in the fridge for snacks.  Save “treats” for special occasions.

14. Watch portion sizes:  Kids are smaller than adults and should eat smaller portions.  Use smaller plates for your kids, and don’t force them to “clean their plates” if they are full.

15. Eat together as a family.

16. Be sure that your children get the sleep they need.  Most children under age five need to sleep for 11 hours or more per day, children age five to 10 need 10 hours of sleep or more per day, and children over age 10 need at least nine hours per day.

Learn more about how engaging in outside activities can be fun and affordable for families through Let’s Move Outside, which promotes a range of healthy outdoor activities for children and families across the country.

Photo Credit: ymcacapecod.org