Healthy Habit 3: Choose to reduce TV time.
Because many studies have found a clear association between television-watching and obesity, experts say that reducing your kids' TV time makes sense. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than two hours of TV-watching a day for kids aged 2 and older. It's best if children younger than 2 not watch TV at all.
Of course, the most effective way to curb a child's TV watching is for you to also limit your time in front of the box. The easiest way to successfully have a healthy family is for you to lead by example.
Afraid such healthy goals will challenge your poise and patience? If you're swooping in every 15 minutes, scowling, and clicking off the TV, yes -- you might face a revolt. Or your kids will just scurry off to a different screen -- a computer, a video game, or a TV in another room.
To keep your cool (and achieve your goal of having a healthy family), don't focus on what your kids can't do but rather on what they can do. For instance, don't even mention after-school TV. Instead, create a list of activities -- rain or shine -- that they can do after school, like dancing to favorite songs, playing on the backyard playset, biking in the neighborhood, or helping to prepare dinner. Then, let your child pick something from that list.
Healthy Habit 4: Buy a pedometer or activity tracker for everyone in the family.
It's not enough for you to demand that your child exercise. Instead, inspire the whole family to move more.
Outfitting each family member with a pedometer or activity tracker encourages healthy habits. Once a kid starts to track how many steps he's taking, it's pretty natural to want to take more. At the end of the day, everyone can compare their numbers and chart their progress. It can become a fun competition that leads to better family health. Studies have found that these devices can be effective in kids as young as age 6. And there are also smartphone apps available just for kids. Some turn activity tracking into a game, which can especially appeal to a child's mind.
How many steps should your child be taking? While many adults aim for 10,000 steps per day, researchers say that a child's target should actually be higher. One study found that for kids aged 6 to 12, a healthy goal was 12,000 steps a day for girls and 15,000 steps a day for boys.
That might seem like a lot, but kids are naturally more active than adults. Of course, a child's stride is much shorter, so they won't walk as far as you will.
Start slowly. Begin by aiming for adding 2,000 steps to what each person takes on an average day now. Even that modest increase will help your family's health.