We’ve all heard it in media stories and maybe seen it in our own lives. Technological advances and safety concerns have conspired to create sedentary kids. For many of today’s young people, outdoor play holds little appeal against the glittery pull of video and computer games. Add to that the worries associated with stranger danger and it is easy to see why run and play has become sit all day.

We all know kids need to move more and what better time to help them get started than now? Obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes, formerly unheard of in children, have become epidemic.  We can do better. The key is balance. Introduce small changes over time to help kids build healthy fitness habits for life.  Why not start by trying one of the ideas below?

Be the change you’d like to see

Every parent knows kids give more attention to what you do than to what you say. If you want your children to be more active, start by being more active yourself.  Try shooting hoops together, swimming, biking or even taking a walk after dinner at least once each week to start. A bonus – not only will you improve your fitness you will also improve your relationship. Children of all ages want personal attention from parents and some even find it easier to open up during casual time together.

Make fitness fun

Structured activities can make it easy to stay fit. Encourage your child to try out for a team sport. He or she will shape up and get great lessons about competition, practice, team work and fair play.

Run for it

Obesity epidemic aside, running seems to be at an all-time high. Many communities sponsor 5-k races almost every weekend.  Children as young as 10 can participate and will likely be thrilled by the excitement of the crowd. Increasingly, there are also special races for even the youngest runners.  Make it a family affair and stay for the after race festivities.

Play games

Technology isn’t all bad. Most kids love dance videos and WII fit games, so encourage them to get up and play. Join in as often as you can.

Join the gym

There is something for everyone in the family at the gym. Tumbling and gymnastics, spinning, yoga, basketball and aerobics, the list is endless.  Introducing your child to a fitness community normalizes exercise and reinforces its importance while making healthy living more fun.

Fitness is so important at every age. Parents can take young children for walks or to the park. Older children might enjoy karate lessons or a hike and light picnic. Even the busiest families can build fitness into their routine by working in the yard, walking the dog or joining a gym. When it comes to encouraging fitness in kids, parents have to figure out how fitness fits into their lives because their kids are watching and they learn what they live.