Health & Fitness

Take active part in child's life

"Do as I say, not as I do." If I had a dollar for every time I heard that comment growing up! I think many of us have either heard these words or, embarrassingly enough, said them when our kids catch us off guard with questions like: '"Why should I eat my carrots, you don't," or "Why do I have to play outside, you don't."

I know my answer is always, "Mommy's had a long day."

I can always justify my actions to make myself feel better. The truth is, like many parents, I end up feeling guilty at the end of the day for not doing more to provide my kids with healthful food and more exercise.

This is scary for me to admit. As a physical education teacher, I certainly know better. But the truth is I am tired at the end of the day like so many parents are.

I admit these faults so readers will know that we all struggle with balancing our busy lives and making wise choices for our loved ones.

How can we get around this feeling? What can we do? I want to share some suggestions:

* While your child is at sports practice, dance class, etc., don't sit in a chair and watch. Walk around the practice area, or go in the outfield and shag balls.

* Volunteer at your child's school field day. Trust me, PE teachers need and want you.

* During parent-teacher conferences, make a point to talk to your child's PE teacher. Find out how well your child participates in movement activities. This shows your child that physical activity is an important part of her life.

* Join your child on the playground at lunch recess. I love to see parents play the ever-popular four square game with their kids at our school.

Many studies have shown that kids who have active parents are more likely to be active. In turn, kids of inactive parents tend to be less active. If our kids notice that we are moving on a regular basis, then they soon learn this is the way life is lived.

I strongly believe that the little changes we make can have a huge impact on our kids' perception of physical activity. If they know it is important to us, then it will become important to them.

I have been teaching physical education for almost 11 years and it never gets old when my students get excited and act surprised when I get in line to play four square with them or climb over the parachute mountain on my hands and knees.

It is at these times I realize that my actions speak louder than all of the lectures I could ever preach to them.

My goal for 2011 is to show, not tell, my students and my children that being active is important. I challenge all parents to make one change, no matter how small, that will help their kids grow up healthy, active and strong.