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Exercise: Leading By Example

2012 October 4

By Lina Younes

How often do we give our children advice to adopt healthy eating habits and lifestyles, yet our actions send another message? To say that “actions speak louder than words” is not just another cliché. Our actions, good and bad, can be even more influential on our children’s outlook on life than endless preaching. In this case, I want to emphasize the need for us to become more active to encourage children to exercise more as well. Let us lead by example.

I still remember as I was growing up, I was often outside with my friends or riding my bike after finishing my homework. During the summer, I was usually outside “from dawn to dusk” with my friends. However, now things have changed. I’ve even seen the difference with my own children. They prefer indoor activities over “the great outdoors.” I guess that I’m largely responsible for that.

Statistics show that childhood obesity has nearly tripled in the last three decades. Childhood obesity has led to numerous other health problems in children from diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, to name a few. Healthy eating habits AND physical activity are the best practices to address the issue with long term positive effects. We cannot leave it to the kids alone. These are good habits that we all should adopt, children and adults, as a family to have a better quality of life.

Increasingly, there are new opportunities to make this family project fun. How about encouraging children to walk or bike more? How about encouraging children in your community to get involved in the Let’s Move Initiative? Just simple steps can go a long way to get more active. Physical activity does not require a gym membership. Sports, gardening, hiking, bicycling, and good old walking can be equally effective. And if you enjoy these activities as a family you get multiple rewards.

Since we’re celebrating Children’s Health Month during October, wouldn’t this be a good time to start? Do you have any family activities planned? Please share them with us.

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves the Multilingual Outreach and Communications Liaison for EPA. She manages EPA’s social media efforts in Spanish. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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11 Responses leave one →
  1. Vanja permalink
    October 4, 2012

    Very interesting post, Lina. It is extremely important to encourage today’s youth to turn off the tv and experience the wonders of our great outdoors.

  2. Arman.- permalink
    October 4, 2012

    Papa, You Are Out of Date………!

    Different generation makes a new generation and none of them are the same. We were surprised when our children protesting us, that similar when we protested our parents……

  3. DALE ABBOTT permalink
    October 4, 2012

    All these health experts sell healthy eating, what about asking this simple question to the kids?

    How much liquid do you consume in a day? What a wake up call you all will get!
    Ever go to a new doctors office and fill out their info form? why do they not ask
    this simple question?

    If we will die within 78 hours from dehydration, why then do they not get to the
    root of the problem and ask all of us what our fluid intake is?

    Children and elderly are water starved, their choices are the tap or but it.
    In your public schools teachers and staff will not drink the same water the kids
    have to drink why?

    Do a beverage survey on these kids like we have and see for yourself what they
    admit to drinking. Why Is this simple task so hard for medical people to understand.
    doctors treat symptoms, not the problem. For every symptom, they have a prescription.

    Solution: give these kids and seniors a clean chlorine free glass of water and you
    will see an amazine turn around with Asthma and overall health!

  4. JamieK permalink
    October 4, 2012

    According to the CDC, childhood and adolescent obesity now effects 17% of all children and adolescents. This statistic is three times the rate of obesity just one generation ago! I agree it is very important for parents to take an active role in controlling this terrible epidemic, but even more important for parents to understand the environmental factors they are up against.

    To begin, highly concentrated sugar drinks and unhealthy, high coloric foods are the primary options in school lunch rooms. Unhealthy food options are heavily advertised, making it difficult for children to make healthy food decisions. The amount of physical activity in schools does not meet standards, and fewer children (mainly high school students) are actively participating in physical education class. Many households do not have a safe recreational area for their children to play, and may not have easy access to transportation that will bring them to safe recreational play grouds. Portion sizes have been steadily increasing over the years, making it difficult for children and parents to decrease caloric intake. Lastly, television, computers, and video games promote a sedintary lifestyle, which often goes hand-in-hand with unhealthy snacking.

    Understanding the environmental factors that contribute to obesity, hopefully will help families form better eating and excercising habbits! Setting achievable short term goals can help families stay motivated and achieve positive health outcomes. Why not try adopting one “Active Families” activity listed on the Let’s Move Initiative website? Take advantage of all the great resources out there to promote healthy habbits and visit the blog links to get great ideas!

  5. Lina-EPA permalink*
    October 4, 2012

    Thank you for all your comments. Yes, we definitely need to disengage from all the “electronics” and adopt a more active lifestyle. However, what do you think children think when we tell them to get off their video games or computers, but we’re always connected to our cell phones or blackberries? We’re sending the wrong message with our actions.

    Just a thought,


  6. Master Melvin M. Lusterio permalink
    October 5, 2012

    The Good Force be with you!

    Well done, Lina! Keep up the good work!

    Live forever and prosper!

  7. Elli Davis permalink
    October 8, 2012

    Yes, it is definitely better to try to change eating or lifestyle habits of our children by being a role model for them by our behaviour rather than by our speeches. What I would add, however, is that leading example does not always guarantee a change. Children will not change by themselves, they need to be accompanied by the one who shows a good example. What is more, she/he should do it in a way they enjoy it. Children need to enjoy things because it is rather unlikely that they would be persuaded by their reason about the importance of having balanced nutritious diet and having enough physical activities. So making things fun for them-whether eating veggies or walking to school rather than taking a bus- can be a key to changing bad habits of our children.

  8. Suzanne Wells permalink
    October 9, 2012

    Lina, you’re so right about the importance of parents setting an example by having an active lifestyle. Thanks for including the link to International Walk-to-School Day. Last week thirteen schools in my community participated in Walk-to-School Day. Walking or biking to school with your child is a great, active way to start the day, and it’s good for the environment!

  9. johnpark permalink
    October 10, 2012

    Its very nice post lina, we must be a lead of childrens in right way.many parents mistakes, growth of childrens.we should have learn and gathering information about society.its really improve children to youth.
    Nice Article, continue your good job.

  10. Sneha Gupta permalink
    April 11, 2014

    Yes, it’s true. A healthy diet and regular exercise can do the trick to push the diabetes, blood pressure and unwanted diseases a mile away. As I represent in a healthcare site and working for diabetes care, I meet many diabetes patients who can control their glucose level by their diet and regular workout. Junk foods are tastier, but not good for health, so try to avoid it for your children. The parents need more attention of their children’s diet. Just try these two steps and find a beautiful environment in your family.

  11. Vivek permalink
    April 25, 2014

    Education on health issues are the intrinsic part of their effective treatment. There are many blogs and articles posted in on-line where we can get sufficient knowledge on health care and their treatment. So to avoid health problem and control the complication please update your selves. There are many health care community sites where we can participate and solve our queries. Knowledge is the best medicine to heel the disease.
    So to know more on health care posts please visit the blog

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