American families are struggling to be healthy. Childhood obesity statistics are skyrocketing and, according to a new study, new parents are more likely to let their health slip. Life is busy and stressful. Because of this, many Bay Area families put their health on the back burner, and the results can be dangerous.
Even though the statistics say one thing, you can make the choice as a family to do the opposite. How? Make a healthy lifestyle a family affair! With better weather and longer hours of sunlight, this is a perfect time to make over your family habits.
To make this a little easier on you, here are a few suggestions to help your family get fit together:
- Play outdoors. Being outdoors is conducive to being active. During the week, go for a family walk after dinner, ride bikes around the neighborhood, or play ball in the front yard. It is important to participate in these activities with your children. By doing so, you are setting a good example for them and showing them that healthy activities are important. It is so easy for parents to say, “Go outside and play.” It will mean so much more if you go with your kids. On the weekend, plan a trip to the park, go for a hike or take a swim at the local pool. Look for local family events that center around outdoor activities. Check out Bay Area Parent (sanfrancisco.parenthood.com) for a listing of all kinds of fun outdoor family activities.
- Choose the right type of entertainment. Children love TV and video games, and so do many parents. They have become the “babysitter” when a parent is busy or stressed because they can occupy children for a long period of time. Of course, TV and video games are not all bad, but they can create a sedentary lifestyle. The good news is that there are now so many great entertainment options out there that are fun and promote movement and activity. Video games like Wii Fit, Dance Dance Revolution, and Playstation Move are all centered around exercise. You can also invest in exercise videos. As a parent, get involved and participate in these activities with your children. But remember, even though these are great options, it is important to keep a limit on this type of entertainment and mix it into other types of activities.
- Center chores around physical activity. This idea is great because it kills two birds with one stone. Chores get done, and it keeps you moving as a family. Work in the yard together or even plant a garden. If you have a dog, take it for a walk together or outside to play fetch. If you are doing indoor chores, put on some fun music and dance while working.
- Make sure everyone gets enough sleep. Chronic sleep deprivation seriously endangers your health and increases the risk of obesity—even in children! Children thrive on routine because they want to know what to expect next. Consistency is the key to any successful bedtime routine, so try to make it a peaceful time when your kids feel calm and secure. As an added bonus, if you’re kids are getting to bed at a reasonable hour this will help ensure you’re getting enough sleep too!
- Teach children the value of nutritious food. In addition to being physically active, eating healthy food plays a major part in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. To help your children appreciate nutritious food, visit a farm or go to the local farmers market. Ask them for suggestions and allow them to pick out the fruits and veggies that they would like, and then have them help you prepare them. Also, make time to eat one meal together as a family every day. This gives you time to talk and connect as a family. (For more healthy meal suggestions checkout the blog at www.simplifyhomesolutions.com.)
Make the choice to be healthy as a family. The benefits are well worth the time and energy it may take to get into a new routine.
Carmela Guizar-Sanchez is a PAMP member and owner of Simplify Home Solutions, a lifestyle and household concierge service. She has a daughter age 7, son age 4 and just recently welcomed another son to their joyous family. You can find more of her tips at www.simplifyhomesolutions.com.
Image provided by Melissa Miller & Vinnie Fernandez, PAMP’s Lead Photographers and co-owners of C’est Jolie Photography