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Set an example for kids by exercising, eating right

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The best way to make sure your children make good choices in life is to make good choices yourself. This aptly applies to fitness and nutrition. Poor diet choices and inactivity breed overweight children. Moreover, if you and your spouse are overweight, your child has an 80 percent chance of being overweight, too.

If your child sees you exercising daily, he or she will know that you care about yourself and your health. Exercise relays an important message of self-discipline, self-motivation and self-respect. If your children see you eating whole foods, they'll be inclined to eat whole foods, too.

When it comes to activity, individual and team sports are great, but don't forget the old-fashioned fun of unstructured playtime. Hide and seek, hula hoop, hop scotch, and climbing trees can help build strength, provide cardiovascular activity, improve coordination and stimulate brain development. Pick tag over TV and cardio over computer games. Then, trade juice for water, sugary snacks for whole fruits and fast food for sit-down dinners and you will make large strides in promoting a more healthy lifestyle.

You can benefit as well. Spending time biking, hiking, in-line skating or just taking long walks can initiate great conversation. We all know how difficult it is to engage our children in meaningful conversation when their brains are being bombarded by video games.

Sadly, only 32 percent of children between the ages of 6 and 17 meet the minimum standards for cardiovascular fitness, flexibility and upper body strength.

But you can change that.

Getting a handle on your child's health now can prevent love handles later. A chubby child could be careening toward childhood obesity. Establishing a healthy eating plan and exercise program for yourself and your child will encourage your child to become a fit and healthy adult.


(c) 2005, The Miami Herald. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service.

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