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STEPtember: Small Steps to Encourage Your Kids to Achieve a Healthy Weight

By Florida Department of Health, Office of Communications

September 05, 2013

Summer break is over and kids are back in school. As you encourage your children to achieve academically this year, encourage them to also pursue regular physical activity. Staying active is essential to healthy brain function, development and academic performance. Activity is proven to strengthen bones and muscles, lower the risk of developing chronic disease and improve cardiovascular health. It also helps to reduce stress, increase feelings of well-being and self-confidence.

Most experts agree that children and adolescents ages 6–17 need 60 minutes of physical activity every day. Florida Department of Health 2012 data shows that 29.9 percent of Florida’s middle school students and 37.7 of Florida’s high school students are not receiving adequate daily physical activity.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that as children age, they are less likely to take part in adequate physical activity so it’s important to encourage your children to make healthy choices and adopt healthy behaviors. Active living can help children maintain a healthy weight and lower their risk for developing chronic conditions.

Work, school and other responsibilities can make it challenging for parents and kids to participate in sufficient physical activity. The key to including physical activity in your family’s daily routine is to start with small, measurable goals that can be built upon over time.

A few simple ways to get your kids active include:

  • Walking to school if it is located nearby and along a safe route.
    (See WalkBike to School or Walking School Bus)
  • Participating in after-school activities such as track and field, swimming, cheerleading, dance team, tennis, golf or other activities.
  • Taking advantage of community activities such as exercise and healthy eating initiatives at your local Florida Department of Health, community sports, walk-a-thons, and community beautification activities like gardening and tree planting.
  • Engaging in family physical activities such as after dinner walks, nature hikes, scavenger hunts, gardening, jumping rope, biking, dancing, yard games and bowling.

Physical activity can be as simple as washing the car, playing with pets or walking through the mall with friends. The most important thing to emphasize with your kids is that by moving more and sitting less, they are building healthy habits now that will improve their health for the rest of their lives.

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