Healthy Activities

My kids are couch potatoes. I know everyone is pushing exercise. Do you have any ideas about how to get them up and moving? -- Not Exercising

Answer: Getting your children up and moving will not only benefit their health, it will also benefit their brains in many ways. For example, it should improve their attention spans, memory and learning. In a study by Charles Hillman of the University of Illinois, he found that third- and fifth-graders who scored highest in physical tests were the same ones who scored better on achievement tests.

If exercise becomes a family event, your children may be more inclined to exercise. Consider family walks, hikes, swimming and bike riding times. And take part in community events such as runs and walks that are sponsored by a cause, from cancer to Parkinson's disease. Also think about a family vacation that involves physical activity for everyone, from horseback riding to kayaking to snowboarding. Also consider enrolling the children in after-school programs at school, the YMCA or community centers.

Exercising need not be just an outdoor activity. There are a lot of activities your children can do indoors, especially in inclement weather. Think about dancing with your children. You can teach each other favorite dances. There is also yoga and tai chi, and loads of exercise videos that will get your children up and keep them moving. And when they watch TV, have them do calisthenics during the commercials.

How are you likely to get your children to exercise and get them off the couch? Limit their TV-viewing time and use of electronic devices after school and most of the weekend. ** *