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How Merrithew® Master IT Laureen DuBeau gets her kids moving

Kid on back using Flying Foam Disks

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Merrithew® Master Instructor Trainer Laureen DuBeau has a degree in dance and physical education, is a NSCA-certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and a performer and associate producer on many Merrithew DVDs. We asked her how she applies her professional knowledge of health and wellness to her personal life, specifically when it comes to keeping her kids, ages 14, 12 and nine, fit and active.

1. What sort of activities do you like to do with your kids?

LD: Anything outside! Once I get my kids outside, I don't really have to plan activities. They are great at letting their imaginations run wild. They are always making up games about fighting aliens, surviving in the forest or exploring a new planet. Sometimes I'll leave out the badminton racquets, soccer balls or baseball gloves and let them play on their own. I'm not that sporty, but I'll occasionally get out there to play with them.

2. How do you keep your kids motivated to stay active and healthy?

LD: They definitely need to see their parents and grandparents staying active. I spend very little time on the couch— especially now that the NHL and NBA playoffs are over— so I encourage them to do the same. It sometimes takes a little effort on my part to bring them to the schoolyard to shoot baskets, to the pool or beach for a swim, or agreeing to let them use my paddle board, but like anything to do with kids, it is definitely worth the extra effort.

3. Any healthy, kid-friendly food tips?

LD: I try to keep a good variety of healthy snacks and drinks around when I know they're going to be home more. It is so easy for them to grab some chips, cookies or even granola bars, but I try to keep easy-to-eat snacks like cut-up watermelon, oranges, apples, grapes and berries of all kinds on hand. I make sure they are in easy reach, like in an open container in the fridge, so they are the first things they go for. I'll also make an effort to make some special treats for them like fruit smoothies.

4. Do you limit screen time or have any strategies for that?

LD: Kids are becoming programmed to rely on electronic stimulation, so it's really important to get them to be active and use their imaginations. It is so easy for them to just sit and watch TV or play video games. It sometimes takes a bit of nagging to get them to do something different, but once they start, they can go for a long time. We try to have a reasonable limit to screen time, allowing them one to two hours a day. It can be difficult to monitor when devices are small and portable, but I make an effort to keep track of it.

5. Have you learned anything about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to keeping your kids active?

LD: With my kids, it is definitely about letting them make the rules themselves. I provide them with the props, toys and balls and they take over from there. If things are too structured, they get bored. Sometimes they need a suggestion to spark an idea, but then they run with it. This also works especially well with my kids because they are not partial to organized sports and that kind of competition. They much prefer to do things their own way than to follow someone else's rules.

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