Oct 13, 2014

Dr. Gellner: So with the growing obesity epidemic in America, what are some sneaky ways that you can get your child active without them really knowing it's exercise time? I'm Dr. Cindy Gellner and that's today on The Scope.

Announcer: Medical news and research from University of Utah physicians and specialists you can use for a happier and healthier life. You're listening to The Scope.

Dr. Gellner: So here are some sneaky ways to get your kids active. Have a day a week where it's playground day. You say we're going to make a picnic, and we're going to go to the playground, and we're going to spend a couple hours there. It can be just a regular playground at the park. You can go find someplace where you can throw a ball.

During the summertime, they have some really cool splash pads around town, and kids and water are a great combination. You get them together; your kids aren't going to want to leave. They're going to want to keep playing. And they're being active while you're doing that, and that also will make them sleep very well at night.

What about those kids that really like video games? Instead of exercising their thumbs only, invest in something like a Wii. Get the Wii Sports or the Wii Fit. The other big craze right now is Just Dance. Your children probably know way more dance moves than you think they know, and they can show them off for you while they're doing their exercise and having dance parties with their friends. That's a great way to get them wiggling, and get that energy out, and burn those calories off, and get everybody up and moving.

If you are playing a video game but it's an active video game, it doesn't count towards the two hours of screen time that we talk about. It actually counts towards your one hour of activity. Because you're not just sitting there, your whole body is involved. You're bowling. You're swinging bats, and playing golf, and boxing, and doing all sorts of things. So your kids are going to have a blast doing that, and they're thinking that they're playing a video game. But you know better.

A lot of children these days are doing martial arts like tae kwon do and karate. A lot of places that do those types of programs will actually pick your child up from school even and help them with their homework, depending on which place that you're going to. So why are they important?

Well, martial arts does a whole lot more than just keeping your child fit with exercises, toning, getting their heart rate up. It also helps with self-confidence. It helps with discipline. It helps with feeling like they're worth something. And it's a really good way to also teach respect to kids, because that's one of the things that they teach in martial arts is respect for others.

Finally, who wouldn't like a little help around the house some days? You can get your child to help you with chores. And make it fun. Don't make it seem like, "Come on. We've got to do our chores." You're going to hear, "Oh, mom. Really?" Make it fun. Make it a day where it's like let's wash the cars and have water fights while you do it. Help them with vacuuming and you can vacuum to music. Walk the dog if you have one, or see if your neighbors have a dog that you can borrow and take the dog for a walk. What kid doesn't love playing with a puppy?

And help them to help with the grass if they're old enough to mow the grass for you. It's getting to be fall. All the leaves are going to come off the trees. So have your kids put together a big pile of leaves. Have them rake it all and then say, "Okay, if you rake all these leaves, you can jump in them." I guarantee you, they're going to help you rake the leaves. And then they're going to rake them again after they jump in them. And then the cycle will probably continue.

So remember, you're not only getting your child some exercise when you're doing all these things. Being physically active also helps build the self-esteem in your child. Also reduces anxiety, depression, and stress. And it teaches them life skills such as teamwork, patience, and setting and achieving goals. So these few little tips will go a long way for many different areas for your child.

Announcer: We're your daily dose of science, conversation, medicine. This is The Scope. University of Utah Health Sciences Radio.

For Patients