The CDC says that fewer than two in 10 Americans get the recommended levels of exercise and more than 25 percent don't devote any time to physical activity. Unfortunately, we're passing poor fitness habits onto our children.
Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years and 58 percent of kids spend less than four days a week playing outside. So, what can we do about it? Get moving!
Get Moving May! is an initiative designed to help combat these issues implemented by the Emmy Award-winning syndicated daytime talk show The Doctors. In conjunction with National Physical Fitness & Sports Month, and in partnership with The President’s Challenge, The Doctors is encouraging people of all ages to get moving and get on the road to a healthier lifestyle.
Dr. Jim Sears of The Doctors took time out of his busy schedule to talk to us about Get Moving May! and how to get active with your family.
SheKnows: Can you tell us a little bit about Get Moving May!
Dr. Sears: The goal of the initiative is to get people healthy and moving more often. We are just asking people to make an effort this month to get out and do something active every single day. By doing something each day this month, we hope people will establish habits that will continue. It doesn't have to be something big — just something. Walking around the block every day or just walking the kids to school can make a huge difference.
We ask on the show, if you could choose between being active and eating healthy, which would you choose? It's actually true that if you are active, you will be generally leaner — no matter what you eat. Of course, if you eat healthy, then even more so. But the most important thing is getting out there and being active. You can even overcome the so-called "fat gene" by being active. That gene doesn't really get expressed if a person is regularly active. On TheDoctorsTV.com website, you can find plenty of tips for being active, nutrition guides and other information.
SK: Can you provide some tips for parents trying to balance their kids' electronics usage and physical activity?
Dr. Sears: As a parent of teenagers and a kindergartener, I experience that every day. If you have rules and expectations of the kids, they'll know there's a limit on how much screen time they can have. In our house, it's one hour per day. And they understand one hour of screen time requires one hour of moving time. They can do it before or after. If they want to play games for an hour, then they need to do something for an hour too — ride their bikes, play in yard — anything active. This is just something that we've done for years and they've learned to expect it. And they know it's non-negotiable.
We also try to do video games that keep the kids active too — like the Wii Fit or Dance Dance Revolution. I even play along with them and the games are highly active. We just try to make sure that the kids aren't slumped down for too many hours in front of a screen.
SK: Many parents want to put their kids in team sports and organized athletics, but it can be very costly. What are some alternatives?
Dr. Sears: Hockey and football especially can be very expensive because there is a lot of equipment. But for younger kids, there are a number of sports that are more reasonable — particularly soccer. Kids need an hour a day of [being] active at the minimum. Soccer is great for that — I was thinking one day while I was at my son's soccer practice that by getting in two practices a week plus a game — that's three hours right there.
Another way to get the kids to be more active is by doing stuff together as a family — going for a hike, walking after dinner, swimming. Swimming is a great full-body workout and a lot of communities have a cheap or no-cost community pool. Swimming is also a good option because there's hardly any swimming injuries and it's low stress on the body.
Another thing I see a lot out here in California is families who surf together. Kids can start very young and I see people of all ages surfing. Sometimes there's a 60-year-old on one side of me and a 10-year-old on the other. I love when families do something together like that. Being active together provides a great sense of bonding and camaraderie as a family. Plus when the kids see the parents doing something active and healthy then they aspire to do that too.
It takes a little effort, but if you look around there are a lot of community events and activities that families can do together. For example, here in California, there are mountain bike racing events all summer long with competitions for adults and kids. Parents and kids should work together to find fun, engaging activities that they can do together outdoors as family. Everyone just needs to get moving!
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