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Children are like sponges. They retain everything we do and say around them. They look to us for guidance without having to say it. There is a natural desire for them to be just like us, which is why we find our little girls in our closet, trying to walk in our heels. This is true for our health as well.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity now affects 17% of all children and adolescents in the United States. That’s triple the rate from just one generation ago. What’s more alarming are the racial and ethnic disparities that play a part in obesity.

According to the National Health and Nutrition Survey:

“In 2007—2008, Hispanic boys, aged 2 to 19 years, were significantly more likely to be obese than non-Hispanic white boys, and non-Hispanic black girls were significantly more likely to be obese than non-Hispanic white girls.”

So what can you do about this, mom?

During a run through my local park, I approached a woman and a young child walking in my direction. When the little girl looked up and noticed me running in her direction, she shot me a smile and began running. I quickly pulled my headphones out my ear and in my best cheer leading voice I screamed, “GO LITTLE MAMA, GO!” She giggled and began to run faster. As I came around to the end of my run, the mother-daughter duo was at the park entrance stretching TOGETHER.

As mothers, you are the first teacher. Your practices are their practices. Your habits are their habits. What you eat they eat. If you’re a couch potato they’ll be one as well. But they do not have to be. Here are a few ways to include fitness into your child’s schedule:

· Do what this mother at the park did and bring your child along for your walk or run but make sure it’s at a park so that your child can be active without the worry of cars and crossing streets.

· Is your child glued to the TV or their Wii? Pop in one of the many interactive fitness games for family and kids such as Nickelodeon Fit, Wii Sports and Just Dance Kids.

· Plan a “fitness play date” with a few of your friends and do a walking tour of a local museum, botanical garden or zoo.

· Next time you pop in your yoga DVD – have your child do it with you! However, make sure you are monitoring them so that they do not hurt themselves.

Tackling childhood obesity starts with YOU. Including children in your fitness plans teaches them the importance of a healthy lifestyle. How can you beat that?

Words By: Angela Childs

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