Current statistics show that one-third of Americans are obese. What’s even more staggering? Given the trend, studies project that by 2030, 42% of all Americans will be overweight…and 11% will be severely obese.

What concerns me most is that our children will be part of those future statistics if we don’t do something about it now!

As parents, we want to be proud of our children’s inheritance. When we think “inheritance”, we often think of objects…a locket, a pocket-watch, or traditions…letters to Santa, summers at the Lake. You get the idea.

The Gift Of A Healthy Future = Priceless

But…consider that the best, most amazing, most cherished inheritance could be that of passing down habits of healthy living to your children…and imagine them passing those habits on to your grandchildren, and so on… For generations!  This inheritance will positively impact the quality of life for your descendents every day.

What can we, as parents, do to keep our children from being statistics of obesity in America? What can we do to turn that forecast around? To give our children a healthy future?

The answer lies in our daily habits as families.  What we are doing to be active and model a healthy, active lifestyle!

Rating Your Family’s Activity Level

First, it may be helpful to evaluate your family’s “activity score”. How does your family’s physical activity compare to the national recommendations for kids and adults? Let’s find out. Answer the following questions (yes or no) and discover how your family activity habits add up.

  1. My family watches television one hour or less per day.
  2. My family members spend one hour or less on the computer per day (at home).
  3. Everyone in my family owns a bicycle and uses it at least once a week (in warm weather months).
  4. My family walks or plays outside together at least 30 minutes, three times per week.
  5. We own and use sport equipment such as basket ball, soccer ball, baseball and bat, tennis racket and ball, badminton set, croquet set, lacrosse, etc.
  6. My kids play outside at least 5 days per week for a minimum of 30 – 60 minutes (not including school recess).
  7. My kids have learned or are learning to swim by age four.
  8. My family chooses to walk or bike to nearby destinations instead of using the car.
  9. My kids are physically active at school at least 30 – 60 minutes per day (recess and/or physical education).
  10. The adults in my family participate in 30-60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity at least 5 days per week.

Now, add up the number of questions you can answer “yes” to. How active is your family?

  • If your family scored 7 or more yeses, you can legitimately say you are “pretty active”. You are modeling good habits needed for lifelong physical activity and health.
  • If your family scored 4-6 yeses, you have some good habits already in place. Now, take the next step and add some new habits to boost your activity time and increase your family’s health.
  • If your family scored 3 or less yeses, it’s time to make some lifestyle adjustments. Start now and implement one new activity habit per month. Soon your family will enjoy more activity time, fun, and memory-making moments together!

Building a Healthy, Happy, Active Future

It’s never too early to start being active as a family. I know, I know…it’s hard to look at a 3 year old bouncing off the walls and running laps around the house and think, “My child should be more active!”. Even so, it’s important to establish a regular habit of family activity and introduce young children to various ways to be active.  This will build sport skills, confidence, and develop an active lifestyle they can carry into adulthood.

My father left the inheritance of an active lifestyle for our family. Growing up, we were always active and I was introduced to a variety of sports and activities throughout my years at home. I then passed that lifestyle on to my children and watched them flourish as active individuals. But, the thing that gives me the greatest joy and would have thrilled my Dad is to see my grandchildren learning physical activity and building a healthy, happy, active future for themselves and their descendents.

What a wonderful inheritance an active lifestyle can be!

I’d love to hear from you! What are some ways you stay active as a family? What are some changes you’re making to create your own active lifestyle inheritance?

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SAFbaby’s Health Expert Adviser Doreen Bolhuis

Doreen Bolhuis is the President/CEO of Gymco Inc., a multi-sport facility for children in its 31st year of operation in Grand Rapids, MI.  Doreen is the creator of Gymtrix, an innovative DVD series to teach physical literacy for babies – 10 yrs.  She is a co-founder and partner of Motion Evolution, a licensed national fitness and physical literacy program for children.  Doreen’s passion is advocating healthy lifestyles and fighting obesity by empowering parents to create active kids from infancy.

Doreen holds a B.S. degree in Physical Education, Health and Recreation.  She has over 35 years experience teaching locally, nationally and internationally and is currently an adjunct professor for Aquinas College in the department of Health and Physical Education.  Doreen has appeared in local, national and international media (CNN, The Today Show, Good Morning America, The N.Y. Times) as a guest expert in Physical Literacy.  Doreen is a former elite level gymnastics coach and member of the Junior Olympic Committee for USA Gymnastics.