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When Teens Aren't Active Enough, (Sometimes) It's Not Their Fault

Mother with kids running outdoor
Photograph by Getty Images/iStockphoto

With childhood obesity becoming more of an issue in the United States, many parents are wondering how to keep their kids fit and active.

Team sports? P.E. at school? Sometimes that's not enough.

"[I]f you think about it, one hour of playing football out on the field means that the vast majority of that time is spent standing around waiting for the next play," Jim Sallis, a professor of family and preventive medicine at the University of California, San Diego, tells NPR.

And kids need at least an hour of physical activity each day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with at least three of those days including vigorous aerobic activity.

However, Tala Fakhouri, an epidemiologist at the CDC, tells NPR that only one in four children ages 12 to 15 are getting that full hour of exercise.

Not only that, but researchers say that it might not be the fault of teens.

"Parents worry about safety when their kids go outside. They worry about bullying from other kids and crime in urban neighborhoods. Sallis adds that a surprising number of parents are concerned about traffic," NPR reports.

So how can parents help?

Get out and exercise together—make it part of family time.

"You can take a long walk after dinner," Fakhouri tells NPR. "You can take your dog on long walk. Play basketball, dance together."

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