September is Childhood Obesity Awareness month. According to the Centers for Disease Control, in Texas about 31% of children are considered obese and overweight. In addition, about 33% of children under the age of 2 are already obese. This is a major concern and indicates that many children are not getting enough exercise and could possibly have poor eating habits. It is so important that kids get at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day. With many kids doing online school, physical activity and movement should be included in the school day, especially at home. I’d like to share three simple and fun physical activities your child can do to get some exercise in each day.

One easy way to get some physical activity is to go out and play. With fall months approaching, children can go rake a mountain of leaves, jump rope, have a Hula-Hoop contest, throw a Frisbee with siblings or a few friends, and ride their bikes. There are so many things to do outdoors that are simple and fun to do. Studies show students that get physical activity tend to do better in school and perform well on tests. Students are also more focused and have positive attitudes that help their overall health.

Another great way to incorporate physical activity throughout the week is to walk the dog. If you don’t have a pet, ask a neighbor that has a dog and offer to walk them. Dogs need exercise just as much as people, so why not do it together? Whether you volunteer or get paid to do this, dog walking is a fun way to be active. Also, depending on the dog, you could play fetch or run around with him/her and burn a ton of calories. Younger kids tend to have a lot of energy and could get a good workout from playing with dogs.

A final way for children to add in exercise during each day is use their feet more and ride less. Instead of riding in the car or taking the bus, put your feet to the ground and start walking. Walking is a quick activity to do and can be done almost anywhere. Walking also promotes a healthy heart and helps our world by cutting down on pollution. Instead of always sitting, walk if you can. An evening stroll during the golden hour or perhaps after the school day are a few recommendations of when children can walk. This could also be a family outing by spending quality time with each other. No phones allowed. Walk and talk, yet enjoy.

Childhood Obesity is on the rise, and we must help children of all ages to stay active and healthy. In order for the statistics to decrease, children should eat a healthy balanced diet and exercise more. It’s important for parents and guardians to set an example of what physical activity looks like and promote healthy eating habits. By taking action we can make an impact on children’s health that will lead to positive outcomes.

JESSICA SMALL is the Better Living for Texans agent with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension in Denton County. Email her at jessica.small@ag.tamu.edu or call 940-349-2891.

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