It’s cold outside. There’s school work do to and even when there isn’t, a book or a movie or a video game beckons kids to curl up on a soft chair in a warm home.

And sit.

On winter days children are sitting a lot, and that can invite two unwanted guests into their lives: obesity and its wayward cousin, diabetes.

It’s natural to avoid playing outside at this time of year. But all that sitting around the house with perhaps sugary drinks and snacks can lead to poor health even among generally healthy young people. For those who already struggle with excess weight, the pounds can pile on more now than in summer. The patterns set early in life can lead to big health problems in years to come. {{more}}

That’s why an innovative program developed at a local Catholic school points the way to teaching young children patterns of healthy living. And those lessons can apply to their much older brothers and sisters.

St. Agnes School in West Chester is partnering this month with nursing students from Villanova University to teach healthy habits and good nutrition. The four-week program not only stresses exercise and nutrition for everyone, it focuses on such issues as bullying for grades one to four and body image for grades five to eight.

There’s also an exercise program where each Wednesday children are encouraged to wear sneakers so they can play in games and activities planned for the day.

The program gets children moving inside even if the weather won’t allow for it outside. The message of regular exercise and smart choices of food and drinks are sure to be lessons that will last the rest of their lives. Even when they’re at rest on a winter’s day.