Sure, getting your child physical helps balance calories. But it also helps develop coordination and self-confidence. Diet and exercise habits that start now are more likely to follow your child into adulthood. Get the whole family involved in physical activity.

Some activities will be difficult if your child is overweight. Her size may make movement difficult, uncoordinated, and embarrassing. One of the reasons many adults don’t like to exercise is because as children they were made to work out as a form of discipline. You can keep exercise fun. Studies show that the exercise habits made in youth are the habits you’re most likely to keep as you become adults.

  • Take walks together after dinner.

  • Plan nature walks, hikes, and canoe trips for the whole family.

  • Encourage your child to join school or community athletic programs — but only if she enjoys the activity. If it’s not fun, the child won’t do it, and it won’t engender lifelong habits. Volunteer to coach or, at the very least, go to games and practice sessions.

  • Take up sports that the whole family can do, such as inline skating, cross-country or downhill skiing, and backpacking

  • Get a pedometer for each family member. It’s a tangible way to promote and encourage physical activity.

  • Get a rope and start jumping. Stage a family tournament.

  • Encourage children to ride bikes and swim at an early age, and show them how. Dust off your bike, too; put on your suit and get into the pool with your kids.

  • Turn off the TV. Better yet, unplug it. And limit computer and video game time.

  • Ask your child what he liked best about doing a favorite activity. You may be surprised to find out that you’re the draw. Exercise can provide a focused opportunity for conversation between the two of you.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Jane Kirby, RD is a registered dietitian and member of the American Dietetic Association. She is the food and nutrition editor of Real Simple magazine and owner of The Vermont Cooking School, IncTM in Charlotte, Vermont. Jane is the former editor of Eating Well magazine and the food and nuitrition editor for Glamour. She served on the dietetics staff of the Massachusettes General Hospital in Boston, where she  completed graduate work in nutrition. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Marymount College.

The American Dietetic Association is the world’s largest group of nutrition and health professionals. As an advocate of the profession, the ADA serves the public by promoting optimal nutrition, health, and well-being.

This article can be found in the category: