By Jennifer Toback
In the last 30 years, childhood obesity rates in America have tripled. Today, nearly one in three children is overweight or obese. September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month and the USTA (United States Tennis Association) hosted a special press event and youth tennis exhibition at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center during the US Open on Saturday, September 1st, to shed light on this growing epidemic by encouraging America’s youth to get active. In a collaboration with the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA), they wanted to highlight the importance of healthy, active lifestyles and unveil a set of essential elements for increasing the quality and quantity of youth physical activity programming in America. (Read More after the jump).
U.S. Olympians Dara Torres and Cullen Jones, along with fitness expert Bob Harper, actress Christine Taylor, Sam Kass, White House Asst. Chef and Senior Policy Advisor for healthy food initiatives, Larry Soler, President and CEO, Partnership for a Healthy America and Michael Bergeron, Ph.D, Chair, National Youth Sports and Safety Institute, addressed the crisis of physical inactivity among America’s youth as well as highlighted key elements for youth physical activity programming.
There were some really wonderful suggestions from the panel at the press conference and as a working mother of two, I intend to put into practice these suggestions in our household. Bob Harper suggested to “become active with your children and engage in activities that you can do as a family such as bike riding or hiking in a nearby park”. He urged that parents should become “more and more involved in their children’s life and that if they see you being active, then they will be more motivated to be active themselves.” He stressed that there is hope and that we can make a change by having these very important conversations and getting communities involved as well.
Five-time US Olympian and Gold Medalist Dara Torres stated that you need to “initially engage your children with something that they will stick to, you have to make it fun.” She also talked about how her coach always made swimming fun. She worked hard but had fun while doing a sport that she loved. She also said that tennis is a sport that can be played by the whole family and that everyone can get involved. Actress Christine Taylor (wife of Ben Stiller) suggested a fun activity such as creating a homemade obstacle course in your home and to “trick your kids into having fun being physically active.” They won’t realize that they are getting exercise, to them they are just having fun.
What my husband and I like to do to get our girls more active while at home is to host a “living room dance party” We have a cd player in our living room, put some of their favorite songs on and we all take the time to dance around the living room together. We all have such a great time and our daughters are getting some exercise in as well, not to mention Mom and Dad too!
For more information on how to get active with your children, please click on this link:
and find a Worldwide Day of Play near you.
Thank you to the USTA for hosting this event, I received free admission for the day, but no other compensation was received.