Research has shown that dads are much more likely to engage in active physical play with their preschoolers than mums. Physical activity not only helps children develop self- confidence and a healthy body image, but also directly links with brain development. Dads play an important role in combating childhood obesity.Obesity is a growing problem all over the world. A recent US government report on the issue revealed that the rate of obesity over the past 30 years has more than doubled for preschool children ages 2 to 5 and adolescents ages 12 to 19. In addition, the obesity rate has more than tripled for children ages 6 to 11. Accordingly, the prevention of childhood obesity is quickly becoming a national public health priority. The condition carries with it a number of serious health implications, including an increased risk for developing diabetes and other chronic conditions.

It’s everyone’s job to help fight childhood obesity, but male caregivers specifically have an important role in active physical play with their children; they tend to deal with children in the physical arena, engaging in rough and tumble play, sports, and other activities. Learning to take risks, within safe limits, transfers to other learning situations.

“The first 5 years is the time when the brain is developing rapidly and learning pathways are being formed,” says Sophie Foster, co-author of a new book ‘Move Baby Move’.

Your kids are more likely to be active if YOU are active. So set an example. Let them see you exercising, eating right, and making healthy choices.

Include them! Sure, you can hit the gym with your older kids, but it’s really simple to incorporate fitness and fun into your daily like with your children. Hiking, playing sports, walks or jogs around the neighborhood, etc., are all great ways to get the kids up and moving. Is it sunny outside? Grab a ball and toss it around. Not only is it good for all parties involved in the physical realm, it’s also great bonding time.

Encourage them, positively. Without being too hardcore, encourage your kids to get up and get moving. Do they want a new video game? Try getting a Wii or other action-focused game or gaming system. Enroll them in sorts or other activities, such as dance or martial arts. When you’re out and about, take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator when possible. All the little things count!