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Why You Might be Your Child's Biggest Get-Fit Influence

Several studies suggest that active moms make for active kids. When researchers from the University of Toledo asked kids which person in their lives was key to getting them moving, 80 percent of girls and 67 percent of boys said it was their mothers. That's probably because moms tend to be the ones setting limits on TV time, arranging playdates, and signing up for things like "Walk to School Day." This is worth remembering if you're not Ms. Exercise. While it helps to set a good example, you play a vital role in how much active time your kids get ("Enough computer time—let's go to the park!"), even if you prefer to watch from the sidelines.

Yes, exercise really can help your child...

Excel in the classroom. A University of Illinois at Urbana-champaign study found that physically fit children got better grades than their inactive peers. And a host of other studies have found a link between exercise and smarts; it pumps up muscles and brainpower!

Be less susceptible to sports and play-related injuries. And if she does get hurt, she may recover faster, too.

Fight (and possibly prevent) Type 2 diabetes. Movers and shakers are better able to regulate blood-sugar.

Be less prone to anger. Inactive kids who start exercising regularly tend to be less aggressive and have fewer outbursts than those who stay on the couch.

Cope better with stress—and be less anxious in general. Why? Running around releases endorphins, those feel-good hormones that seem to make everything better.

Have better self-esteem. After as little as 20 minutes of activities, kids report feeling happier and better about themselves, research shows.

 

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