Reviewed by Kathy Empen on June 10, 2012

Sources

David Ludwig, MD Director, Children's Optimal Weight for Life (OWL) Children’s Hospital Boston

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Video Transcript

Narrator: I can't find time to even exercise myself, how can I possibly assist my child?

David Ludwig, MD: You can do it in a lot of ways. First, it's probably easier than you think. The amount of time that we spend collapsed in front of the television and feeling, thinking that that's going to relieve our fatigue and depression or anxieties, only to finish that hour of violent soap opera or uh depressing international news, only to finish that hour feeling worse than when we started. Whereas, if we took 15 minutes to go out for a walk, ideally in nature, just breathe fresh air, maybe have time with our spouse or our children, and then returned with greater energy. We're going to be more efficient throughout the day. So those 15 minutes will be more than made up for by our ability to concentrate, focus and be productive at other times. I think for many families physical activity is viewed only as exercise and unpleasantness. The model is of going to a gym, dealing with the smelly locker room, getting onto an unpleasant exercise machine and then toiling with sweat coming down the brow. But that's not the way that children naturally get physically active. One of the best ways is play, just allowing a child to be outdoors if the weather permits, or to be in a room with toys and games and other children. They'll naturally become active. And the calories burned off in play are just as good for our health as the calories burned off on a treadmill. In fact, young kids aren't physically or mentally designed to spend 20 minutes on a treadmill. Their bodies aren't capable of it and their minds are not designed for such intense focus. So we need to make physical activity fun again and remember that physical activity isn't exercise. In fact, I even encourage parents to ban the E word, don't even talk about exercise at all.