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Health Team

Encourage kids' physical activity to promote healthy summers

Posted June 20

With many children out of school for summer break, it's a great time for them to get physically active, which is especially important in the fight against overweight problems in childhood.

One third of children in the country are overweight, which puts many at greater risk of developing diabetes and setting themselves up for early signs of heart disease.

A recent study showed many children tend to get less exercise as they get older. Reduced physical activity, though, usually carries over into adulthood.

Organized sports can be a great way to help children stay active, but they're not for everyone.

Rather than staying indoors preoccupied with electronic devices, encourage them to ride a bike, play kick ball or go on a nature hike. For older inactive children, pediatrician Dr. Richard So with the Cleveland Clinic says they can start slow with a little jogging.

"Just go out on (a) 5 minute run," So said. "You have to tell them, 'OK ,a TV show is 30 minutes, but all I want you to do is run for two and a half minutes out and two and a half minutes back.' Most kids will do it. That's not a long time."

So said to then increase that activity over time until they begin to enjoy it and it becomes a habit.

With summer, everyone is thinking about cooling off in a pool, which can also be great exercise. The challenge is that too many kids have never learned to swim.

The potential benefits of swimming are tremendous, though, so swimming lessons are a good investment in their health and their safety in water.

Like other habits, kids can be affected by the sedentary lifestyles of their parents. If parents are physically active, then it's more likely their children will be too.

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