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    Almost one in three children are overweight or obese, according to the American Heart Association in 2010. A study of effects of obesity on the self-esteem of children and teens showed that “obese Hispanic and white females demonstrate significantly lower levels of self-esteem by early adolescence.”

    The study also found that these teens have “significantly higher rates of sadness, loneliness, and nervousness and are more likely to engage in high-risk behaviors such as smoking or consuming alcohol.”

    The good news is there are things your child can do to look and feel better about the person they see in the mirror. Spending just thirty minutes, three times a week, doing these exercises will have your child well on his or her way to a happier, healthier life!  By working together with your child (and perhaps their doctor, if necessary), you can create an exercise program that burns calories, builds muscles and that kids enjoy. This small step will help you reduce the serious consequences of obesity for your child.

    If you need workout apparel, be sure to swing by the HFS store for leggings, shorts, shoes and other gear to get you started!

    Start Basic.

    If your child is new to any form of exercise, the best thing that you can do to encourage progress is to begin slowly, with moderate-intensity, non-impact workouts.

    Hit a local trail for a brisk walk, pull your rides out of the garage for a ride, go to the local pool for a swim, or do callisthenic exercises such as push-ups, sit-ups, crunches or walking stairs. You can even modify your child’s pushups by starting the push-ups from a kneeling position. Crunches are a great alternative to sit ups since anyone can do them and if your child has core muscles, they can come up as far as they are able.

    If you want to boost heart rates, choose a hilly course to walk, jog, or ride bikes on that will be just challenging enough to get the heart moving! You can also add flexibility and endurance exercises to vary each workout to make it more challenging over time as your child adjusts. For example, children can use dumbbells or wear light ankle weights when walking, or pedaling on their bike.

    Raise the Bar.

    Once your child gets the hand of the fitness routine and gets used to being more active, pick up the pace.  Add time or distance to the walks or bike rides, or adding more laps to their swim. Incorporate jump rope, high knees, running in place, or jumping jacks. If you use a gym or fitness center, use a treadmill, elliptical machine, or exercise bike to give them a challenge. Your aim is to just raise his or her heart rate each week their health and conditioning shows improvement.  One fun way to exercise together is to create a circuit-training workout together that includes five of you and your child’s favorite exercises. Then, do each exercise in 30 second intervals taking a two-minute break between each set. Then start another circuit that includes five new exercises. Keep the circuit going for 30 minutes or more.

    Make it Fun.

    Losing weight is going to be one of the hardest things your child does. Making it fun for them along the way is key. As they lose weight, you’re going to see an increase in their mood and their self-esteem. Children are happier when they know that they look healthy.