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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.

    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.

    Healthy Habit 5: Choose not to micromanage your child's eating.

    As a parent, you don't want to be watching every bite of food that goes into your kid's mouth. You don't want to be swatting her hand away from the cookie jar all the time. That sort of micromanaging will just make everyone miserable.

    Instead, the easiest path to raising a healthy family is to remove the source of conflict. Replace the cookie jar with a fruit bowl. After all, kids do most of their eating at home -- that's true even for many teens. Because parents are the ones who shop, you have control over the food that's in the house.


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