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August 8th, 2012

Physical activity is key to a healthy lifestyle



When it comes to having a healthy lifestyle, eating fruits and vegetables is just one piece of the puzzle. For a long-term healthy lifestyle, you’ll need to find a balance between good eating habits and physical activity.

That’s the message from the “Let’s move!” campaign, a nationwide initiative designed to fight the growing rate of childhood obesity, and promote a healthy lifestyle for people of all ages. Here are a few simple tips to help you and your children live a healthier life:

• Eat five fruits and vegetables every day. Fruits and vegetables are important sources of essential vitamins. Plus, they also help you manage your weight. Serve fruits and vegetables to children by mixing them with other foods - such as adding broccoli to rice, or vegetables to a sandwich. You can also blend them and make a nutritious and natural fruit and vegetable juice.

• Prepare dishes that are low in fat and sugars. For a healthier diet, buy low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese, as well as cereals low in sugar. Also, try baking or grilling dishes like fish and poultry instead of frying them. If you do plan to fry food, use vegetable or olive oil instead of lard or butter.

• Serve healthy snacks. You can cut up some carrots, strawberries or apples for a healthy snack. Tell your children to ask you for permission before eating a snack that has too much sugar. That way it will be easier for you to decide how many sugary treats they get to eat.

• Watch portion sizes. Portion sizes can have an impact on how much you eat, even after you are full. You can avoid overeating at your kitchen table by serving smaller portions, particularly to children. If they want more, they can ask for a second portion.

• Turn the TV off and go outside. These days, computers, tablets and smart phones offer round-the-clock entertainment. Put these devices away for a moment and go to the park, ride a bike, run or walk. Children should engage in moderate physical activities for 60 minutes a day.

• Get enough sleep. A recent study found that a child is 9 percent less likely to be overweight or obese for every additional hour of sleep he or she gets each night.

Children who are five years or younger need 11 hours of sleep per day; children between 5 and 10 need 10 hours per day; and children older than 10 need nine hours of sleep.

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