Explain to your offspring the importance of moving more and sitting less to remain at a healthy weight. Let them know they’ll have more energy and they will develop new skills. Riding a bike, throwing a football or shooting hoops could lead to more fun with friends.
It’s important for parents to be a good role model – you should limit your screen time to less than two hours per day. If YOU follow the rules, your kids are likely to follow suit.
Start logging how much time each individual in your family spends in front of a screen, including television, DVD watching, playing video games, and/or using the computer for non-school or work activities. Also track how much time they spend doing physical activities. This should give you an idea of what you’ll need to change. Here is a handy screen time chart to use, courtesy of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
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When you do spend time in front of a screen, you can stay active by doing yoga or lifting small weights. You could also hold “family Olympics” during commercial breaks to see who can do the most jumping jacks, leg lifts, or push ups.
Create and enforce house rules that limit all screen time (TV, computer, games) to two hours each and every day. The enforcement is the hard part.
Keep your child’s bedroom free of television or computers. Studies show that kids with TVs in their bedroom tend to watch an hour and a half more than those that don’t. A screen in their room also keeps the kids away from the rest of the family and limits social interaction (with real world people, that is).
Eliminate television watching during meals by removing the TV from the family eating area. If you can’t arrange that, have a strict no-TV rule during meals. Research indicates that families that eat together as a group tend to eat more nutritious meals. Make daily family meals a priority, at the very least 3-4 times per week.
Lazily watching television can easily become a habit. Give your kids alternatives such as playing/learning a sport, just playing outside, or getting an active hobby. Even a family board game night can help break the TV habit.
Many families have dogs but never do anything with them! Dogs love to play, and are generally very active. Daily walks benefit the dog and the family. (Don’t forget to bring the pooper scooper along!)
If you make television a reward, or a punishment, you elevate it to be much more important than it is. Find other ways to motivate your kids and keep them engaged with the family.
Television advertisers are smarter than ever with all the ad tracking they have available. They know if they show a commercial for snack food, candy, soda pop, or fast food at certain times they can create a greater demand. Help your family understand the motivation and timing of TV ads to reduce their influence on us.
Reducing weight and exercising can contribute to better overall health but also puts less strain on the body’s cardio-vascular system. Schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified allergy doctors. With proper diagnosis and an effective treatment plan, most patients will be able to lead a full and active life.