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Regular physical activity is an important part of staying healthy and is recommended for children, adolescents and adults. Only 25 percent of adults and less than 50 percent of young people in the U.S. exercise at the recommended levels of regular physical activity. This lack of physical activity is one factor that has contributed to the high prevalence of overweight and obese people in the United States.

A major source of this problem is a decrease in energy expenditure stemming from more and more kids getting less and less exercise and regular physical activity. The average American child spends approximately 24 hours each week watching television, using an electronic device or playing video games. Some of this time could be spent doing some sort of physical activity.

What can a parent do to keep family members physically active and healthy? First, have a family meeting to discuss the reasons to make healthy choices in our lives. Allow them to share their concerns with you. Family involvement helps teach everyone healthful habits and does not single out any one individual.

Next, monitor sedentary activities like the television and computer use. Set a limit of less than two hours a day of television viewing or personal computing. As a parent, it is also important to be a role model in decreasing sedentary activities and increasing physical activity.

Then find ways to increase the activity level of everyone in your family. Young persons may not choose to participate in organized youth sports because of unfavorable experiences in the past. Find alternative activities that the child feels comfortable in performing. The important thing is that the entire family should do the activity together. Make it a point to set aside time every day.

Parents can lead their families in becoming more physically active by making small changes gradually. Finding activities that are enjoyable will ensure the success of staying active. A parent who stays active and enjoys it will be an example for his/her children to stay active throughout their lives. A family that stays active will improve their health now and in the future.

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