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Saving the Next Generation of Couch Potatoes

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Guest blogger JJ Virgin: More and more, I'm convinced that one day we're all just going to cease moving. Who needs legs when you're not using them? Kidding -- sort of. There are tons of reports on kids' lack of activity, but this isn't just a revolution that's happening to our kids -- it's happening to us as well! Remember: Your kids know what you are doing (and not doing). If you're not active, they're not going to be very active, either!

kid sitting on the couch
We as a nation are trading our sneakers for dress shoes that, for most of us, sit motionless under our desks for 37.5 hours per week, on average (according to the 2009 American Time-Use Survey). Walk past business offices and observe. What do you see? Most employees are sedentary and virtually statue-like; rapidly typing fingers are the only things moving. Bottom line: Our bodies are idle the majority of our lives. The 37.5 hours mentioned above doesn't take into account the amount of time each day we're sleeping or sitting in front of the television at home, either. 

Earlier this year, the American Journal of Epidemiology came out with a study that related leisure time spent sitting to adult mortality. In a nutshell, your morning exercise routine doesn't cancel out the negative impact of consistent inactivity. Those who sat longer than six hours a day were more likely to die throughout the study than those who sat fewer than three hours. 

I'm sure most of you are thinking, "This is all good to know, but my career allows me no other option." That's where you're wrong: The key is to implement at least some movement into each hour. Adopt as many of the following practices as you can: 

  • Every day, take two five-minute breaks and walk around your building or outside. Not only will that get you moving, it will reenergize your mind -- trust me! 
  • Stand up and stretch at least once every hour. 
  • Walk to the break room to fill up a water bottle three times per day. (Hey, you've got to stay hydrated.) 
  • Talk your boss into replacing all of your desks with so-called "treadmill desks". It's been proven that fit employees are much more productive. (Decision makers will be interested in that little tidbit, guaranteed!)
  • Once you get home from work, try to incorporate movement into activities you do with your children. (After all, they've been sitting at desks most of the day, too.) Teach them to be active by example! 
  • Cook with your kids. Not only will you be able to teach them about great nutrition, but you're also standing, cutting and chopping in the process. 
  • Teach and play old games. How fun were games like kick the can, flashlight tag and red light/green light?! Teach those games to the next generation! 
  • Adopt a family hobby. I don't care if it's rock collecting or tennis. Schedule family-hobby time each night! (Take a walk to look for that unique rock; head up to the neighborhood court ....)
  • Encourage sports. Initially, you'll be the one to introduce them into your family's itinerary. Guess that means you'd better brush up on your hoops! 
Celebrity nutrition and fitness expert JJ Virgin is the author of "Six Weeks to Sleeveless and Sexy" and the costar of TLC's "Freaky Eaters" reality series. Visit her at to grab her free audio, "7 Steps to Break Your 'Freaky' Food Habits Fast & Forever!"

next: Teaching Kids Perseverance
2 comments so far | Post a comment now
XXXX September 7, 2010, 3:27 PM

Gotta have those “well rounded” kids!

artemis fowl the atlantis complex pdf March 15, 2011, 9:54 PM

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