With the hot, muggy patch of weather weíve had in recent days, itís hard for any of us to feel overly motivated to get out to exercise. But for teenagers, leashed to a world of computers, televisions and other electronics, the lure of an inside, passive life is overwhelming.
That is at least one reason we are seeing a national epidemic of childhood obesity. The percentage of children age 6 to 11 years in the United States who are obese increased from 7 percent in 1980 to nearly 18 percent in 2010. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12 to 19 years who were obese increased from 5 percent to 18 percent over that same period. In Allen County, 33.9 percent of third graders are obese or overweight.
Parents or guardians of children face plenty of challenges in getting their kid off the couch, but there are some fairly simple ways to get them moving.
First, make sure there is a safe place for children to play. If you donít have a large yard or a safe neighborhood for walking, take them to a park or walking trail.
Summer day camps and sports camps can provide needed socialization and activity. The Lima YMCA, Bluffton Family Recreation and the City of Lima Parks and Recreation Department are just a few of the local organizations offering opportunities for your children to participate in organized activities.
Of course, kids donít need organized activities to get exercise. Riding bikes, hiking in the woods or a simple homemade slip-and-slide on a hot day can all provide easy, affordable exercise. Activate Allen County is currently working with local leaders to develop the countyís first Active Transportation Plan that will incorporate spaces to walk and bike safely, meaning in the future there will be even more opportunities to keep our kids healthy.
Finally, if getting your children unplugged from technology is a challenge, use your own tech tricks to take charge. Change the password on your wireless router daily and only tell them what it is when theyíve completed chores or have been physically active. You can even configure the router to set time limits for computer access.
And remember, children learn healthy habits by mirroring their parents. So if you really want to take action, get active with them.
For more tips to healthy living, or to find out about the Active Transportation Plan and other Activate Allen County efforts, go to www.ActivateAllenCounty.com or check us out in Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest to get regular tips.
Health tips courtesy of Activate Allen County will appear in this space every Monday.