Stay fit : Make fitness a family affair

A sedentary lifestyle coupled with poor nutrition is literally killing people. The couch potato syndrome not only affects Mom and Dad, but now children are paying a price. It is never too late or early to incorporate a healthy lifestyle. Kids are born naturally active, with good aerobic

conditioning — just try keeping up with a three-year-old. With an adult’s help, young children can learn to eat right and enjoy healthy living early in life.

Make fitness a family event

Family fitness can be a weekly “family night out” — miniature golf, bowling, swimming or even rollerskating. The key is to get up and move. Take time for an afternoon “health picnic.” Go walking in a park or on the beach, allowing the kids to frolic and play. Bring along a basket full of nutritious foods — grapes, bananas, oranges, strawberries, low-fat cheeses, non-fat crackers or whole-wheat bagels. While children are the best judges of how much they should eat, parents are the best judges of what they should eat.

Make breakfast a priority

Breakfast keeps you from overeating through the day. It boosts your energy level and gives you necessary fuel for the day. One study among high school students found those who ate breakfast usually had lower cholesterol levels than those who did not. Busy parents are often so rushed in the morning they let kids skip breakfast. Remember, you can keep breakfast simple and yet healthy.

Turn the TV off

Sometimes you have to literally kick the kids outdoors. Lack of physical activity is the most surprising thing these days kids aren’t out playing. Eliminating TV time cuts down on time the children may spend snacking on empty calories and adds time for physical activity. It isn’t television by itself that is to blame, but the diet and lifestyle patterns associated with habitual viewing. They also spend more time snacking on junk food and generally are not out playing. Health and fitness begin at home. So start today!