Help your children find their own paths to fitness

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I know this wonít come as a surprise to any parent out there but our kids have completely different needs when it comes to fitness. Find out the right way to incorporate exercise into their busy little lives and reap the benefits of lifelong health.

1. Do encourage and facilitate your kids participation in activities they enjoy. They may want to play a sport, join scouts, bike ride, rollerblade or simply play on the monkeybars for hours upon hours. Whatever makes them happy is what they should do to be active and keep moving.

2. Donít force your kids to participate in activities that make them feel awkward. Organized sports are not good for uncoordinated children, martial arts are terrible for pacifists, and hiking may be boring for the more social child. Match their activity with their personality for better results. You are their parent ó know your child.

3. Do seek out fitness classes and fitness professionals when youíre at a loss. A few classes or sessions with a youth fitness trainer can spark interest simply because the instruction is coming from someone other than mom or dad.

4. Donít enroll your kids in strength training or fitness programs that are similar to yours. Children need programs that are built around functional moves like frog jumps, duck walks, beam balancing, and a good game of tag. Even the top youth fitness trainers use functional fitness to train aspiring young athletes.

5. Do provide healthy snack options for your children, promote small frequent meals, and limit sugar. This prevents mood swings, strange energy surges that often lead to wild behavior, and controls fat storage.

6. Donít put your kids on a ďdietĒ even if they are struggling with their weight. This begins a cycle of bad eating habits and creates a bad relationship with food. Teach balance and moderation instead. Lead by example. Read labels and know what you are putting in your body.

7. Do set a good example by participating in some type of activity on a daily basis. Walk, wash the car, do a set of pushups, garden, or simply play a quick game of tag. Children love to imitate, so take advantage.

8. Donít tell your kids to turn off their Xbox and get moving then sit around all day watching TV or surfing the Internet. Itís like telling your kids not to smoke then lighting up in front of them.

9. Do limit the amount of time kids spend in front of the TV, and computer. Instead, plan a certain number of hours a day when they should expect to be active.

10. Donít rely on modern conveniences to keep your children entertained while you do everything around the house. Including them in daily chores and activities may take more of your time, but encourages an active life. Your kids deserve it.

Natalie Dreger is a certified fitness professional and can be reached at

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