Pediatric Fitness

and Referrals

Call (608) 263-5210

The Role of the Family

Pediatric Fitness

The Role of the Family

To schedule an appointment

(608) 263-5210


Myths and Misconceptions

Health Eating and Exercise Myth Busting

Pediatric Fitness at UW Health in Madison, Wisconsin offers a program to help children develop healthy habits of exercise and good nutrition.

Learning by Example

In the Pediatric Fitness Clinic, we see that families have the most success if the whole family is involved. The biggest impact on children's habits comes from watching the adults in their lives. They learn by example. For example if limiting soda was recommended, it's best to keep soda out of the house.

The child would not feel singled out or "punished" when others drink soda in the home, and the other family members would benefit from less soda as well.

Parents can save a lot of aggravation by keeping processed foods out of the house. If the snacks and empty-calorie drinks are not in the home, children won't be begging or sneaking to try to get them. Children will work very hard to get foods they think are forbidden-make it easier for yourself and your child by changing your shopping habits.

Make slow and steady changes to decrease resistance from your family.

Easy Changes

Fluid Consumption


Limit soda Consumption

  • Wean your family from soda over a few weeks by purchasing less.
  • Set limits in restaurants by permitting milk or water only.

Limit Juice Consumption

  • Juice contains approximately as much sugar as a soda.
  • Limit to six to eight ounces a day.

Drink 1% or Skim Milk

  • Whole milk has 8 grams of fat and 180 calories per 8 ounces, skim has 0 grams and 90 calories.
  • If you buy 2%, change to 1% for a few weeks first, then move to skim.

Increase Water Consumption

  • Keep a pitcher of cold water in your refrigerator.
  • Have a glass of water available at each meal.

Eat Meals Together

Limit Distractions During Meals

  • Sit at a table so everyone faces one another.
  • Have conversations to connect at the end of the day.
  • If you are not used to this, it takes a few attempts to get comfortable with the change-but kids say they like having the TV off.

Read Food Labels

Balanced Eating

  • Are you eating the right portion size?
  • Are you getting the nutrients your body needs?

Increase Fruit and Vegetable Consumption

 Eat More Fruits and Vegetables

  • Offer at each meal and snack
  • Have your child sample at pot lucks, farmer's markets or produce markets like Brennan's
  • See our recipes for ways to include more fruits and vegetables

The same themes apply when increasing your family's movement. If the whole family goes for a walk, you will be setting an example for your children, getting some family time, and improving your own health.

Examples of Easy Things to Try Together

Stay Active

  • Go for a walk after dinner. Play I Spy as you walk. For older children, ask about their day.
  • Play with the dog.
  • Go for a bike ride.
  • Take a hike.
  • Play yard games
    • Frisbee
    • Catch
    • Capture the Flag
    • Bean bag toss
    • Bocce Ball
  • Winter activities
    • Snowman building
    • Fort building
    • Ice skating
    • Sledding
    • Walking after a new snow can be breathtaking
    • Plan a weekend trip to an indoor water park

Limit Screen Time


  • Start by accurately counting how many hours a day are spent at a computer (gaming, Facebook, e-mail, internet searching) and watching TV. Make a chart where screen time can be documented.
  • Slowly decrease the amount of "screen time" your family participates in.
    • Turn off the TV with meals.
    • Go outside together and do some sort of activity.
    • If the weather does not allow outside activity, play a board game or cards together instead.
    • Offer healthy, fun and active rewards for decreasing screen time.
    • Lead by example.