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Keep kids active with school's return

Livingston County News - 9/7/2017

The new school year brings a chance for children to start some good new habits.

During summer, children may have been involved with hours of bike riding, swimming and playing with friends. Keeping children active throughout the school year is essential.

Making sure children get at least one hour of activity a day can improve their health and help instill good behavior. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 17 percent of 2- to 19-year-olds - 12.7 million youths - are obese. This makes developing a love for exercise an important component in children's health.

Helping your child get the recommended amount of daily physical activity requires everyone to rethink the idea of exercise. A good workout doesn't necessarily mean running laps or lifting weights. Think of exercise as an active lifestyle, and you'll be able to fit in more than you think.

Here are 10 creative ideas to help you turn every day into an opportunity to get fit - and have fun - together.

1. Make exercise a family activity. The entire family should take a walk, play basketball or ride bikes after dinner, for example. Building activities into your daily schedule ensures exercise won't get put off.

2. Add activity to daily tasks. If the grocery store, ice cream shop or a favorite restaurant is within walking distance, try walking instead of driving.

3. Enroll your child in an organized activity. Football, soccer or swim teams do not work for every child. Gymnastics, martial arts, dance or yoga can get children moving, too.

4. Practice good behavior. Engaging parents in the effort to get kids to do more exercise is the biggest key in getting kids to become more physically active. Children who see their parents being active are more likely to be active themselves.

5. Sneak activity into your daily routines. Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator. Turn commercial breaks into fitness breaks. Or park farther from your destination.

6. Crank up the music and boogie down. Hold disco nights with your kids and neighbors. Move the furniture aside, fill the CD player with dance tunes and let the kids take turns using a flashlight as a strobe light.

7. Walk or run for charity. Model the value of exercise and of giving back to society by teaming up with your children for a fundraising race.

8. Put kids to work in the yard. If autumn brings down leaves in your area, make a game out of catching them on a windy day -see who can catch the most yellow, orange, or red ones. Then rake them into piles and have fun jumping in them, or take turns completely covering one another in leaves.

9. Team up for gardening. Kids are great at digging up dirt, so let them turn over the soil and help you plant new bulbs. Research shows that gardening is as good as weight training when it comes to preventing osteoporosis, and if you're planting vegetables, it can make them more appetizing to kids.

10. Walk the dog or, if you don't have a pet, walk your neighbor's. New research from North American Association on the study of obesity shows that dog-owners had more fun losing weight and were able to keep it off longer than non-pup-owners.

You know exercise is important for your family: It can lower heart risks, control weight and help kids do better in school.

But don't expect your kids to understand - or even care - about those things. Your job is to make them see that moving more is fun. When exercise feels like play, your whole family will enjoy it more and be more likely to stick with it.

Lou Lombardo is a state licensed massage therapist. For questions, comments or more information you can contact him at (585) 734-2200 or at


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