Starting school? Don't stop exercising

September 3, 2009 8-year-old Yasir Vincent is strutting his stuff.

He and other kids spent their summer at the West Philadelphia YMCA keeping active by dancing their favorite moves and shooting hoops.

As they head back to the classroom, time for these types of activities will dwindle.

In fact, many schools have cut down on gym class time and recess.

"It's a definite problem because children need at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day," West Philadelphia YMCA Executive Director Bertram Lawson said.

Lawson says keeping kids active will help prevent medical problems such as diabetes and heart disease in the future.

Lawson says as the weather turns cold and our schedules get tight, parents may need to get creative, especially for kids who don't play organized sports.

Dancing is always a great option.

So is going for a family walk after dinner.

He encourages parents to use their neighborhood parks.

"Then in backyards, you can play some games, dodgeball, double dutch, some games we've played in the past," Lawson said.

Whatever kids like to do, carve out time for them to do it.

If they have to play video games, try the Nintendo Wii fitness or other systems that include activity.

Adults should also lead by example.

"Children emulate their parents, they want to be like their parents so if their parents are doing healthy things, exercising, dancing, playing, the children will do it," Lawson said.

As for rainy or cold days, Lawson says take advantage of low-cost recreational centers such as the YMCA. You can also find indoor pools or go bowling.

When it snows, bundle your kids up and go out to play in the snow.

Just try to make physical activity a part of every day.

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