Social changes over the last 50 years have had a huge impact on the American family. The effect of these new living patterns and family arrangements has been to reduce the amount of exercise most people get. Results vary from survey to survey, but the following statistics provide a approximate health and fitness profile of the American family.
Children: 50% do not get enough exercise to develop healthy heart and lung systems13% have at least 5 or more risk factors20% to 30% are obese75% eat too much dietary fat
Adults: 64% do not get enough exercise to maintain healthy heart and lung systems24% never exercise35% are overweight30% smoke cigarettes
Studies show that parents participate with their children in strenuous physical activity an average of once per week. Families can improve their health and fitness by taking the following steps. Parents should act as good roles models when it comes to health habits.Parents and children should talk about the importance of exercise.Parents should help children realize that exercise can help them meet life goals such as happiness, popularity, and longevity.Parents should teach children to take time to exercise.Families should participate in exercise activities together. This might include taking a walk or cycling.Parents should set examples of how to incorporate exercise into everyday life. An example would be taking the stairs rather than the elevator.Families should find ways to make reaching fitness goals fun. For example, miles walked can be plotted on a map. Family celebrations can be held when major milestones are reached.Families should keep in mind that exercising together contributes to better family relations as well as better health.Parents should limit their children's television watching as well as their own. In addition to reducing physical activity, TV watching adds to obesity. People tend to snack on fatty foods when they watch TV. A study of teenage girls showed a 2% increase in obesity for every hour of TV watched.
Hayden, D.F., The Family and Health and Fitness, Health Values 11(2):36-39 (1987).
Sportswise : An Essential Guide for Young Athletes, Parents and Coaches, Lyle J. Mitcheli
The Complete Book of Running. James F.Fixx
Moms&Dads Kids&Sports, Pat McInally
Your Child in Sports. A Complete Guide. Lawrence Galton