As the weather turns cooler, the Madison Area YMCA is reminding parents about the importance of incorporating regular physical activity and healthier eating habits into their children’s lives.

Childhood obesity rates have soared over the last few decades. Nationally, one in three children is obese or overweight. More alarming, obesity puts children at risk for chronic diseases often seen in adults, such as high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and type-2 diabetes. This health crisis sheds light on the need to provide children and their parents with the resources and the support they need, emphasizing that small steps can lead to big results to reverse the trend.

One key to fighting childhood obesity is prevention. Regular physical activity - 60 minutes a day for children - and nutritious foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains can lower children’s chances of becoming obese or overweight and developing chronic diseases. It’s important to note that 60 minutes of physical activity can be achieved through a number of activities throughout the entire day - it doesn’t have to be done all at once. As a leading nonprofit strengthening community through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, the Y believes that getting kids more active and allowing them to play is an important factor in improving their health.

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The Madison Area YMCA offers programs such as swimming, sports, gymnastics and dance that all offer physical activity in a structured environment. Health and fitness classes for children include ZUMBA, Yoga, Cardio Kids and Healthy Kids. For children who prefer individualized attention, the Y offers Junior Personal Training for 10 to 12 year olds. Younger children can enjoy a kids-sized fitness area with strength and cardio equipment and preteens and teens may use the Fitness Center. Programs at the Y have helped thousands of children by teaching them the value of healthy exercise while having fun.  The Y also has a staff nutritionist on site to help individuals and families with advice.

“At the Madison Area YMCA we know that many families struggle to find the time and resources to eat healthier and set aside time for physical activity every day,” said Diane Werner, Marketing & Communications Director at the Madison Area YMCA. “So we tailor our programs to meet the needs of families in the community to help make the healthier choice an easier choice.”

To learn more about the Madison Area YMCA's programs for children and teens, please visit the Y's website at www.madisonareaymca.org, visit the Welcome Center at 11 Kings Road in Madison, or call 973-822-9622.