Getting Your Family in Shape

Some technology can be good. Brenda Rooney, clinical epidemiologist for community and preventive care services for the Gundersen Lutheran Health System in La Crosse, Wis., ran a healthy family research program in which families used pedometer. Pedometers work well not just with adults but also with kids, because they love watching the reading go up. The goal is 10,000 steps a day (something easily achievable if you walk a mile to work and back or by taking an evening and/or morning walk). Kids want to be active. Witness the relatively painless way Andrea and Julianne weaned themselves from sitting in front of the TV and snacking.

Keep your body hydrated and efficient by drinking water. Replace soda with water by keeping cold bottles of water in the refrigerator.

Set up a healthy diet for your family. A diet low in sugar and fat is critical. Aim for five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. "Vegetables can be fun through coloration and the sheer variety and texture of them along with taste," says Gary Gilmore, professor of health education and health promotion at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse.

Turn to the Web. For dietary guidelines, Gilmore recommends the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which even has a special food pyramid for kids (www.usda.gov/cnpp/KidsPyra/). Another Web site, www.fitfamilyfitkids.com, a joint effort between the Centers for Disease Control and Gruner + Jahr Publishing, which puts out Parents, Child, Family Circle and Fitness magazines, features the ongoing stories of families building more exercise and better nutrition into their lives. It's got a different tip every day for getting kids to try vegetables, new activities, etc. Another Web site, www.fitday.com is an excellent weight management site, with a calorie and nutrition calculator, an activities calculator that estimates calories you've burned, weight loss tracking and similar functions.

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