There's a lot of talk these days about fit kids. People who care (parents, doctors,
teachers, and others) want to know how to help kids be more fit.
Being fit is a way of saying a person eats
well, gets a lot of physical activity (exercise),
and has a healthy weight. If you're fit, your body works
well, feels good, and can do all the things you want to do, like run around with your
Some parts of this are up to parents — such as serving healthy meals or deciding
to take the family on a nature hike. But kids can take charge too when it comes to
Here are five rules to live by, if you're a kid who wants to be fit. The trick
is to follow these rules most of the time, knowing that some days (like your birthday)
might call for cake and ice cream.
1. Eat a Variety of Foods
You may have a favorite food, but the best choice is to eat a variety. If you eat
different foods, you're more likely to get the nutrients your body needs. Taste new
foods and old ones you haven't tried for a while. Some foods, such as green veggies,
may taste better the older you get. Shoot for at least five servings of fruits and
vegetables a day — two fruits and three vegetables.
Here's one combination that might work for you:
at breakfast: ½ cup (about 4 large) strawberries on your cereal
with lunch: 6 baby carrots
for a snack: an apple
with dinner: ½ cup broccoli (about 2 big spears) and 1 cup of salad
2. Drink Water & Milk
When you're really thirsty, cold water
is the best thirst-quencher. And there's a reason your school cafeteria offers cartons
of milk. Kids need calcium to build strong bones, and milk is a great source of this
mineral. How much do kids need? If you are 4 to 8 years old, drink 2½ cups
of milk a day, or its equivalent. If you're 9 or older, aim for 3 cups of milk per
day, or its equivalent. You can mix it up by having milk and some other calcium-rich
dairy foods. Here's one combination:
2 cups (about half a liter) of low-fat or nonfat milk
1 slice cheddar cheese
½ cup (small container) of yogurt
If you want something other than milk or water once in a while, it's OK to have
100% juice. But try to limit juice to no more than 1 serving (6 to 8 ounces) a day. Avoid
sugary drinks, like sodas, juice cocktails, and fruit punches. They contain a lot
of added sugar. Sugar just adds calories, not important nutrients.
3. Listen to Your Body
What does it feel like to be full? When you're eating, notice how your body feels
and when your stomach feels comfortably full. Sometimes, people eat too much because
they don't notice when they need to stop eating. Eating too much can make you feel
uncomfortable and can lead to unhealthy weight gain.
4. Limit Screen Time
What's screen time? It's the amount of time you spend watching TV or DVDs, playing
video games (console systems or handheld games), and using a smart phone, tablet,
or computer. The more time you spend on these sitting-down activities, the less time
you have for active stuff, like basketball, bike riding, and swimming. Try to spend
no more than 2 hours a day on screen time, not counting computer use related to school
and educational activities.
5. Be Active
One job you have as a kid — and it's a fun one — is that you get to
figure out which activities you like best. Not everyone loves baseball or soccer.
Maybe your passion is karate, or kickball, or dancing. Ask your parents to help you
do your favorite activities regularly. Find ways to be active
every day. You might even write down a list of fun stuff to do, so you can use it
when your mom or dad says it's time to stop watching TV or playing computer games!
Speaking of parents, they can be a big help if you want to be a fit kid. For instance,
they can stock the house with healthy foods and plan physical activities for the family.
Tell your parents about these five steps you want to take and maybe you can teach
them a thing or two. If you're a fit kid, why shouldn't you have a fit mom and a fit