Making Health a Family Affair: Nutrition and Exercise Tips for Family Health & Fitness Day
Started in 1996, the goal of Family Health and Fitness Day is to promote physical activity and overall wellness for families. Obesity rates are trending upward for both adults and children, although the rise in rates has slowed in recent years in some states. Creating a healthy home atmosphere helps establish good nutritional and physical habits in children for life.
The following fitness and nutrition tips, will get your family started on their journey toward a lifetime focused on overall health and wellness.
There are several ways families can enjoy physical activity and exercise together. Many of these we’ve previously written about extensively in past posts. In addition to activities such as hiking and after dinner strolls, here are some other ideas to get your family up and moving around:
- Stretch during TV time. Just because the television is on, that doesn’t mean activity needs to stop. Doing simple stretches or warms up such as jumping jacks won’t distract them from the program, and will get their body and minds moving. Additionally, limit “screen time” for your kids, while also setting a good example by limiting your own time spent on the phone, pad, or computer.
- Volunteer or walk/run for charity. Whether helping to clean up your local lakes or parks; or participating in a charity 5K – volunteering is a great way to both exercise as a family, and give back to the community. This site locates volunteer opportunities near your home.
- Walk or bike when you can. Going somewhere hyper local? Save the car for a longer trip, and make traveling part of your families’ exercise plan. If you have to drive, park a little further away from your destination to extend the walk to and from your vehicle.
- Take the “chore” out of household chores. Make clean-up time a game instead of something for your kids to complain about. If they are older, crank up the music and make cleaning time more lively, and therefore, more fun.
- Measure steps together. Grab pedometers for everyone and set some goals with celebratory activities once milestones are reached. Find little ways every day to help your family reach their step goals, such as taking the stairs instead of escalators or elevators.
While there are many factors that make up a healthy home, a good place to start is becoming the change-leader for your family. Enforcing strict bedtimes is a simple way to ensure the entire family gets the recommended amount of sleep to feel rested and ready to start every day.
Here is the recommended amount of activity from the CDC.
It’s recommended that you eat 5-9 servings of fruit and vegetables a day. Having fruit and veggies already in the home will make this goal much easier to reach. Consult the 2018 Food Pyramid to better understand how to have a balanced diet.
Here are some additional nutritional tips:
- Establish a grocery list and stick to it. A smart way to keep from eating junk is to simply not bring it into the home. It doesn’t hurt to indulge every once in a while, so save desserts or candy for special occasions or celebrations. Don’t make junk food a reward, as this could form an unhealthy habit later in life.
- Start every day with a healthy breakfast. Fruit, whole grains, oatmeal, and eggs all make excellent choices for the first meal of the day. Avoid sugary cereals or skipping this important meal altogether.
- Meal plan as a family. Get the kids involved in dinner time – from seeing how to create a balanced meal, to learning how to home-make their favorite foods, they will feel much more invested and inclined to eat the dinner they helped prepare.
- Tempt picky eaters into enjoying healthier lunch choices. From their own taco bar to play sushi, there are many recipes available that make even the most ordinary lunches seem exciting.
- Choose better snack options. Even small changes like flavored water instead of soda or fruits for dessert can make a big difference in diet.
You should consult a physician before making dietary or physical activity changes. Your local MD Now physician can make recommendations based off your health needs, and talk to you about the positive effects these changes could make on you or your family’s life.
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