Your kids get PE class during the school day, but most parents don’t realize that more physical activity is needed for their kids' health and well being. Physical activity has many benefits for children in developing physical and mental health, but recent research suggests that it may even help your child learn better.

So, fight the urge to slouch on the couch. Instead, get up and go, and set an example for your children. It doesn’t have to be sports—just get your family moving! Here are just some of the benefits:

  • Feel less stressed, decreases anxiety, reduces depression, and improves mood.
  • Feel better about themselves: self-esteem and confidence.
  • Feel more ready to learn in school
  • Keep a healthy weight
  • Build and keep healthy bones, muscles and joints
  • Sleep better at night
  • Providing a way to connect to family and friends

As kids spend more time watching TV, they spend less time running and playing. The prevalence of obesity among children aged 6–11 has more than doubled in the past 20 years. You as parents should limit TV, video games, computer and cell phone time. Try to restrict usage to a half-hour per day or one hour every other evening. Explain your rules in positive terms. Try replacing "You can't watch TV" with "Let's turn off the TV so we can…" Make physical activity a priority in your life. Exercising together can be fun for everyone.

  • Take a walk after supper - and make it a "treasure hunt", or walk the dog.
  • Leave the car at home when going on short trips.
  • Make a kite and then fly it! Use sidewalk chalk to play hopscotch.
  • Have a family basketball game, Organize a parents versus children kickball, touch football or soccer game in your neighborhood.
  • Play team or participate in individual sports of any kind - If you take your child to a team practice, you can take a walk instead of watching.
  • Go for a family swim at your local pool or Run through the sprinklers on a hot day.
  • Check out a class like yoga, hip-hop aerobics, or martial arts class and participate with your kids at your local community center.
  • Jump rope with your kids, play tag, toss a ball, hula-hoop, play Frisbee – add music for fun.
  • Dance to your favorite CD in the living room, or even play a dancing video game.
  • Celebrate special occasions—like birthdays or anniversaries—with something active, such as a hike, or volleyball.
  • Get the whole family involved in household chores like cleaning, vacuuming, and yard work.
  • Train as a family for a charity walk or run
If you live close, walk or bike to school with your kids. It's a great head start to your day.

Your efforts to encourage your children to exercise more and instill in them the wisdom of good nutrition and healthy choices will yield years of dividends in their lives.