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Do You Have a Little Couch Potato at Your House?

By Sandy Schroeder

The question of couch potatoes, big or little, is pretty important in today's world where screens tend to dominate and we all sit way too much.  The Department of Health and Human Services says American adults fit the description perfectly.

  • A mere 5 percent of American adults exercise 30 minutes or more daily
  • Only 1 in 3 American adults rack up 150 minutes of weekly activity
  • Pediatrics journal studies say inactivity can start very early

Harvard Health professor Claire McCarthy, MD, says Europe's couch potato trend is similar. A Childhood Obesity study of 600 children, between ages 6 and 11, found physical activity was low even at age 6. After age 8, exercise dropped sharply. Only 80 percent were active 60 minutes a day. At age 11, only 20 percent were active an hour daily.

What Is Going On With Our Kids

  • Just playing outside is less common 
  • Kids have busy schedules with less free time
  • Physical activity is channeled into organized sports, which eliminates many
  • There are few safe places for low-income kids to play outside and little time for parents to play with them

Where This Trend Leads

Researchers say the sedentary pattern that begins as a child moves on into adolescence and then locks into adulthood. Obesity and other serious health issues are frequent outcomes of this ongoing inactivity.

How to Get Kids Moving

Start with these ideas.

  • Look for community sports leagues, exercise opportunities and scholarships
  • Stay and play on the playground for a while when you pick up kids after school
  • Limit kids' screen time, of all kinds, to two hours a day
  • Add exercise equipment to your family room
  • Support recess and other exercise programs
  • Exercise at home with treadmills, stationary bikes, and dancing
  • Walk with your kids after work and on weekends
  • Get bikes for the whole family and hit the bike trails or parks on the weekend
  • Take a community exercise class for parents and kids
  • Take up a new sport or teach a favorite one to your kids

Probably the best tip of all is to start early to nip inactivity in the bud. If your kids are infants or toddlers, put them on the floor to move instead of parking them in seats and playpens. Kids also imitate their parents. If you are camped on your phone, in front of the TV, or on your phone for hours, they will be too. Their future health depends on you. Start right now to make it the best possible.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Flower Mound, Tex.

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