Family fitness

How you can help at home: Families can help reinforce healthy lifestyles with these easy activities.

By Amy Kaiser, Consulting Educator

Alarming statistics of childhood obesity and inactivity flood the media. Research points out that Americans are falling behind in physical fitness. As parents and educators, we have a responsibility to make sure our children know the importance of good health.

Here's how to do it

Children are interested in trying new physical activities. Neighborhood parks, clubs, and schools have many free or low-cost activities, but the core fitness that needs to be established is cardio-fitness, simply defined as continuous movement for an extended period of time.

Walking, jogging, biking, rollerblading and swimming are core activities. Families who exercise together can establish a bond that helps everyone remain active. The best habits are reinforced with a schedule. Pencil exercise time into your daily calendar and establish a time each day that works for everyone in the family. Family walks are fun and healthy, and encourage conversation.

Family walking tips

Since variety is the spice of life here are a few family walking tips:

Amy Kaiser is a physical education teacher specialist for the Duluth Public Schools in Minnesota. A stay-at-home mom for several years, she re-entered the education field and has been working as an elementary physical education specialist for the past 12 years. Ms. Kaiser serves on district and state curriculum committees and was recently honored as the 2005 Elementary Physical Education Teacher of the Year in Minnesota.