Playing video games and drinking soda pop is quickly becoming a favorite pastime for children and teenagers. But, being fit and healthy is crucial to lead a productive and long life. As a parent, you can encourage and motivate your children to live a healthy lifestyle.

Sept. 28 is Family Health and Fitness Day. This day is a great reminder that you and your children need to be active, eat right and become healthy. But sometimes, it can be hard to get your children excited about exercise and health. Here are five ways you can motivate your child to get fit.

1. Invite others to participate

With so many distractions lurking around, it is almost impossible to tell your children to go outside and run around. They need someone to get them going and make physical activities fun. Invite friends over on a frequent basis and don't let your children glue themselves to the computer or TV screen. Encourage your children and their friends to play outside, ride bikes or build forts. If you can help ignite your children's imagination, you will usually increase their activity level, as well.

2. Allow them to choose the activity

If physical activity is boring for your child, you will constantly be at odds. To prevent an ongoing fight from occurring, let your children choose the activity. If they want to jump rope - jump rope together. If they want to play tag, volunteer to be "It." Listen to your children's suggestions. They will have more fun participating, and you will create some lasting memories.

3. Provide a healthy treat

After you and your family members have participated in physical activities, provide a healthy treat to repair their muscles and provide the energy they need. Don't feed your family members two or three cookies. Instead, find healthy snacks such as apple slices, string cheese or yogurt. Plus, if your children learn that if they play hard they can earn a delicious snack, it might be the motivation they need. But remember, a small treat is ideal. You don't want to overindulge your children and make them eat more than they lose while playing.

4. Choose age-appropriate activities

When choosing the best physical activities for your children, think of activities based on your child's age. For example, preschool age and school age children will enjoy going to a park and playing on the playground. They will still find a thrill in the monkey bars, the swings and slides. On the other hand, teenagers will find very little to be excited about at a park. Instead, find activities they will enjoy such as swimming, running, tennis, dance and more. When finding the best activities for your family, think about your children and what interests them.

5. Start while they are young

Teach your children to be active at a young age. If you force them to be physically active when they are older, you may just get a few rolled eyes and a firm "no." But if you make it a part of their lifestyle while they are young, you can create a habit that will last the rest of their lives. An added bonus for starting young - children are more eager and willing to play. You will have less fighting to deal with.

Your family's health should be one of your top priorities. Find activities your children will enjoy and do all you can to get your family members moving and better their overall health.

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