The First Lady, Michelle Obama, decided to use her influential position to help create and promote a program that could potentially take a massive step in the right direction for controlling the childhood obesity epidemic. The “Let’s Move” program has the First Lady, pop stars, large corporations, healthcare providers, and most importantly, schools all supporting the cause. Let’s Move encourages a healthier diet in and out of school, better food labeling, and increased daily physical activity for children.
Let’s Move strives to get the entire community involved to promote a healthy lifestyle and fun physical activities including being active in the community, in school, and with family. The combination of healthy food choices and physical activity is what Task Force on Childhood Obesity has stated as the best strategy for tackling the epidemic.
Let’s Move – 5 Simple Steps
- Move Everyday: A minimum of 60 total minutes of physical activity per day for every single kid will get them moving in the right direction. They will feel better, be less stressed, more attentive in school, and get a better night sleep, all because of one hour of physical activity.
- Try a New Fruit or Veggie: There are thousands of fruits and vegetables available that most kids have never tried. Fruits and veggies are vital for a healthy diet and kids can have more fun eating them by trying new things. Let the child come grocery shopping and pick out their own fruits and veggies to try, turning a healthy lifestyle into something fun for them. Challenge the kids to make the most colorful salad possible which will increase the amount of nutrients they will get from it.
- Drink Lots of Water: Stop stocking the house with soda and increase the consumption of water. Only purchase 100% real fruit juice. If the kids want something similar to a soda then add a splash of juice into some sparkling water.
- Do Jumping Jacks to Break up TV Time: The statistics for how much television kids watch per day is sickening but is also a good opportunity to make some big changes. TV has a lot of negative side effects, but those can be stymied by doing jumping jacks during commercial breaks and in between shows. Same thing goes for kids that spend all day on the computer, have them run up and down the stairs, do sit-ups or push-ups, stretch, or come up with their own physical activities to break up the time in front of a computer screen.
- Help Make Dinner: Plan the daily dinner menu with the kids and have them help decide and do the shopping with you. If it is a made into a fun experience that they have control over, they will not just learn about making healthy choices, they will be excited to do so.
- With the Family: The family has the largest influence on the child’s lifestyle and could easily plan a fun active hobby or daily activity that kids will be excited to do when they come home from school. A few ideas include giving the kids toys that promote moving such as balls, kites, and jump ropes, encourage kids to join a sports team, create a family park day a few days per week, and even make some house rules like no sitting still during TV commercials.
- At School: Schools have an amazing opportunity to both teach the kids about the importance of physical activity and also let the kids be active with all of their friends. The most effective way to promote activity at school is through a strong P.E. program where 50% of the class time is spent doing vigorous activity. The programs should have a variety of options for kids and should be a fun environment rather than a forced exercise regime. They will burn twice the calories when they are having fun and are more likely to transfer over the daily school activity habits into their lifestyle.
- In the Community: The entire community should get involved in helping to reduce childhood obesity. The community could dedicate some funds to building and improving parks and playgrounds, creating safe trails for kids, and getting the kids involved in outdoor environmental programs.
SPARK: Countering Childhood Obesity Since 1989
SPARK is a research-based organization that disseminates evidence-based Physical Education, After School, Early Childhood, and Coordinated School Health programs to teachers and recreation leaders serving Pre-K through 12th grade students.
Each SPARK program strives to foster environmental and behavioral change by providing a coordinated package of highly active curriculum, on-site teacher training, extensive follow-up support, and content-matched equipment.
Since 1989, SPARK has provided curriculum, training, and consultation to over 100,000 teachers and youth leaders, representing many thousands of schools, organizations, and agencies worldwide.
On our website, you can download sample lesson plans, find grant opportunities for YOUR program, and register for FREE educational webinars and monthly eNewsletters.
photo courtesy of: Amanda Bossard/Medill News Service