According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of children in the United States ages 6–11 years old who were obese increased from 7 percent in 1980 to nearly 18 percent in 2012. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents who are between the ages of 12 and 19 years old and obese increased from 5 percent to nearly 21 percent over the same period.
These days, increased focus on technology has led to a lack of exercise and movement in schools, so it’s more important than ever to be a healthy role model for your children. They see you get up and go to the gym, work out at home, or go for a run. They also notice when you quit your exercise routine or your healthy diet.
Since children tend to mimic adults, it’s important that you are their healthy role model, whether you think they are watching or not. Not only are you able to be more active with your children when you develop your own healthy habits but your children are also likely to continue to make similar choices throughout their lives.
Here are some tips for creating healthy habits for you and your family:
Break up homework time with an activity that requires movement. Kids get restless, so give them breaks to work out their energy. This will help them focus better, making homework time easier. If homework time is right after they arrive home from school, you might want to give them some free time to be active before starting homework as well.
Limit TV and video games and encourage active play. Too much of a good thing can always be bad. Balance is the key to everything.
Have your children help with meal planning, shopping and cooking. Including your kids in the planning and preparation of a meal not only provides quality time with your children but also sets a foundation for how to do these things when they grow up and have to do it on their own.
Exercise with your kids or make time to play an active game with them weekly. We have all seen the viral videos today of young children imitating their parents doing squats, burpees, flips, etc. Some think it’s cute but you should be asking yourself if you are setting examples like this for your own children. What do you do daily that you see your kids imitate? Are they positive or healthy?
Follow through on your own commitments. Parents constantly tell children that they can’t quit once they start something. Are you leading by example? What have you started but didn’t finish? Did that situation teach your child that giving up was OK?
Next time you decide whether you sleep in or get up to work out, remember it’s not just for you but also for your children who look up to you.