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Raising Fit Kids: Healthy Nurtition, Exercise, and Weight

  This content is selected and controlled by WebMD's editorial staff in collaboration with Sanford Health Systems.

Cut Back and Get Kids Active -- Without a Fight continued...

Motivate your teen to exercise. Many kids drop out of sports programs during the teen years. Your teen will be more motivated to move if you let him choose the type of activities he wants to participate in. For example, you may want him to play baseball, but he may prefer swimming at the gym. Show your support for his choice by providing transportation. You can even coordinate schedules so you can work out together.

Another way to help your teen be more active is to use his screen time as a motivation to move more. There are plenty of exercise videos and active video games available that are fun to do and can get his heart rate pumping. Encourage him to play with friends, or get the whole family involved in a little healthy, active on-screen competition.

Encourage activities that involve socializing. Look for activities and clubs that engage your teen socially, so he will get out and be with other people, O'Keeffe says. If you can't convince him to join you at social events, suggest activities related to his interests that involve other kids, such as school or church groups or volunteer work.

Create screen rules together. You'll be more likely to get your teen's buy-in if you come up with screen-time rules as a family. Together you can write up a contract that outlines clear house rules with rewards and agreed upon punishments. Here are some suggestions for rules to implement together:

  • No texting during meals, either at home or a restaurant
  • No TV during meals
  • No TV until after homework and chores are done
  • The TV gets turned off at a set time at night
  • The computer stays in a public room in the home
  • No TVs in bedrooms

Establishing rules about screen usage limits kids' exposure to TV and other electronic devices, says Donald Shifrin, MD, clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle and a member of the committee on communications for the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Talk about it. Simply setting limits won't go over well with older teens, who need to have rules that make sense to them, O'Keeffe tells WebMD. Explain that the more TV they watch, the less time they have to be physically active and the more likely they are to gain weight. Show them articles or books about the impact of using too much media so they understand that your rules aren't unfounded -- and that you've got their best interests and good health at heart.


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