As you set your family’s fall schedule, consider this: A 2013 study from the U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development found only half of kids ages 11-16 get the recommended 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity each day.
Setting goals to get moving as a family can create long-lasting healthy habits. Start simple – take a longer dog walk or join a sports team. Love to run? Consider joining a running club or participating in a charity race like the Race for Every Child, an annual 5K and Kids Dash raising money to support Children’s National Health System.
As a Children’s National pediatrician, I witness the mental and physical benefits of race participation and how the funds raised impact patients. Take Maia Santiago van den Broeck. Following several surgeries at Children’s National, Maia, 9, chose to participate in the 5K to give back and stay healthy. “They helped me, and if I raise money, I can help other kids too,” says Maia.
Follow these tips to set your family fitness goals:
1. Reserve a regular time for fitness activities.
2. Break big goals into small, achievable steps.
3. Lead by example. Share your goals and efforts with your child.
4. Have healthy snacks available before, during and after activities.
5. Follow the mood. When your family seems ready to go, seize the moment!
Nailah Coleman, MD, FAAP, FACSM is a sports medicine pediatrician in The Goldberg Center for Community Pediatric Health at Children’s National.