Cheeky ways to get kids moving

To get that texting, tweeting, gaming child up and exercising, a new book suggests parents try sneaking fitness into the day-to-day routine. 

Missy Chase Lapine co-authored Sneaky Fitness: Fun, Foolproof Ways to Slip Fitness into Your Child's Everyday Life with personal trainer Larysa DiDio  and the book contains over 100 toddler-to-tween-targeted strategies, games and tips for exercising children.

"Eating healthy is only half the battle. You really have to move more. Our kids today are really living a very sedentary lifestyle," she said.

According to data from the US Centre's for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some 17% of children are obese, three times as many as 30 years ago.

"When we were growing up we could go out and play tag or climb a tree unsupervised," Lapine said. "Today everything has to be planned. These days play happens in the lounge."

Keep it fun

An important part of the sneaky philosophy is that it's fun. An activity dubbed "Slip and Slide" has kids sliding across the floor.

"You just say, 'Go make your socks as dirty as possible and put on some fun music', like the twist," she said. "Now they've skated and twisted all over the floor, they've helped mommy clean up, and they burned three times the kilojoules as they would watching TV."

Similarly, "Dig to China" has kids digging in sand, filling up a pail and, Lapine said.Other sneaky strategies include planting a mini trampoline or hula hoop in the TV room.

"They naturally gravitate to these items," Lapine explained. "All of a sudden they're watching "Hannah Montana" or "American Idol" and they cant sit still."

Or, if they must play that computer game, Lapine says, have them do it while sitting on a stability ball.

And these sneaky tips can be applied to adults too, since we spend an inortinate amount of time in front of a computer and TV.

Parents need to be present

Jessica Matthews, spokesperson for the American Council of Exercise, likes the sneaky philosophy. "Adults hop on a treadmill for 40 or 60 minutes, but for a child that's not enjoyable," said Matthews, a former K-12 physical education teacher. "But fold in exercise with fun activities and games throughout the day and children will respond."

Shes particularly fond of the sneaky strategy of leaving a stopwatch around. "Give a child a stopwatch and Boy! You'd be surprised how fast they can move."

Matthews' one qualm is that so many of the activities require adult supervision. "For a lot of them a parent would need to be present," she said. But if, despite all this stimulation, your child still resists the sneaky way of life, there remains Fitness Tip 40, which promises to boost cardio-vascular endurance, co-ordination and mood. Best of all, compliance is virtually certain.

Tip 40 suggests: "Get them the dog they've always wanted." - (Reuters Health, January 2010)

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