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Kid Alert: Sidestep a Sedentary Summer

Kid Alert: Sidestep a Sedentary Summer

Childhood obesity, which has almost tripled in the past 30 years, has many of the same causes as adult obesity. Too much time spent watching TV, playing video games or using mobile devices takes away from physical activity. “Your level of physical activity as a child often predicts your exercise habits as an adult,” says Merih O’Donoghue, M.D., with Meritus Family Medicine-North Hagerstown.

To keep kids active and healthy, now and into the future, Dr. O’Donoghue offers these tips:

  • Establish a “no device, TV or video game” time—and stick with it.
  • Start a garden enlist your kids’ help in watering, weeding, staking and harvesting.
  • Buy a pass to a local swimming pool or take your kids to a playground. Climbing and jumping aid in muscle and bone development.
  • Enlist your kids as volunteers at an animal shelter or as the neighborhood “mother’s helper.”
  • Create a chore list and have your child unload the dishwasher, sort laundry, vacuum and dust. Offer rewards for a job well done.
  • Introduce your kids to lawn games like croquet, badminton, bocce ball, whiffle ball, corn hole, capture the flag and hacky sack.
  • Ask your kids’ help organize a neighborhood summer activity schedule. Events such as sprinkler and water balloons, dance off competition, street hockey, tug of war and basketball tournaments rotate from house to house.
  • Start a new family routine by going to the pool after work or taking a long summer stroll.

“Parents must lead by example,” says Dr. O’Donoghue. “If you spend a lot of time on your phone or watching TV, you’re sending a message that it’s OK to be sedentary.”

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Need-to-Know Facts

  • Fewer than 25 percent of children get the recommended 60 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per day as recommended by the American Medical Association.
  • Examples of moderate exercise include walking, biking and hiking. Playing basketball or soccer, jumping rope, running or swimming are all examples of vigorous exercise.
  • Kids spend nine hours a day on different types of media (CNN/Common Sense Media).
  • Less than 3 in 10 high school students get at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day (CDC).
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