This blog post was published in Healthier Generation’s blog.
As #Commit2Ten brings national attention to the critical role physical activity plays in preventing childhood obesity, I would like to keep the conversation going with some other benefits – mainly academics. Studies show that kids who get the recommended amount of daily physical activity also do better in school. Healthy kids have higher attendance rates, get better grades and behave better in class. That’s why we are challenging the nation to start moving today to support the active lifestyles our kids need to live healthy lives tomorrow.
One of the best places to teach good physical activity habits is at home, and parents can set a great example for the whole family. So, what can families do to increase the amount of physical activity they get each day?
5 Steps to Create an Active Home
1. Make exercise a family routine.
- Walk or bike to school together.
- Take a family walk around the block each night after dinner.
- Play upbeat music and dance your way through family chores.
2. Play together. Instead of going to a movie or restaurant for your next family outing, plan something active.
- Discover free and low-cost physical activity options near your home (parks, bike paths, hiking trails, tennis courts or community swimming pools).
- Spend an afternoon at the local playground.
- Play a round of miniature golf together.
3. Set family fitness goals.
- Post goals on the refrigerator along with a way to track everyone’s progress. Cheer each other on as goals are achieved!
- Train together for a charity walk or run.
- Get pedometers and have a contest to see who takes the most steps in a given week.
4. Exchange “screen time” for active time.
- Limit recreational screen time including computer, tablets, video games, and TV, to two hours or less per day.
- Encourage your kids to sign up to participate in some form of physical activity. Everyone can find something they enjoy.
- Support your child by making a commitment to attending practices and showing up for games or performances.
5. Break it up. You don’t have to get all of your physical activity in at once.
10 Steps for Your PTA to Increase Physical Activity
PTAs and other parent groups also have an important role to play in ensuring kids have access to quality physical education and opportunities for daily physical activity during the school day.
This school year I encourage your PTA to:
- Advocate for quality physical education that meets national guidelines and state standards.
- Encourage participation in the Presidential Youth Fitness Program.
- Join your school wellness committee.
- Raise funds for new athletic or playground equipment that promotes physical activity.
- Organize a “clean up our playground” event.
- Form walking or running clubs for students and families.
- Host Fire Up Your Feet, turkey trots, walkathons or other fun runs that raise money for schools.
- Create a walking school bus or bike train—groups of students who walk or bike to school together – with parents rotating supervision duties.
- Organize a Safe Routes to School program to create a safer environment for children to walk and bike to and from school.
- Participate in Walk to School Day (October) and Bike to School Day (May).
Bonus: Download the #Commit2Ten Toolkit for ideas to get more active today as well as sustain that activity throughout the year.
Remember: Exercise is most effective and more fun when it’s done as a group. You’ll promote your child’s health and learning, and feel better too!
Laura Bay is the president of National PTA, an educator from Poulsbo, Wash. and mother of three adult children.