The Dos, Not the Don’ts, of a Family Fit Lifestyle

January is Family Fit Lifestyle Month and the perfect time to make positive changes that have long lasting benefits. With nearly 13 million obese children and adolescents in the US, one of the ways parents can care for their children’s’ health is by being an example of a healthy lifestyle.

Preventing or reversing childhood obesity will reduce the likelihood that your child will have:

  • High blood pressure and high cholesterol, which are risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD).

  • Increased risk of impaired glucose tolerance, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes.

  • Breathing problems, such as asthma and sleep apnea.

  • Joint problems and musculoskeletal discomfort.

  • Fatty liver disease, gallstones, and gastro-esophageal reflux (i.e., heartburn).

  • Psychological problems such as anxiety and depression.

  • Low self-esteem and lower self-reported quality of life.

  • Social problems such as bullying and stigma.

And, it may even help you fit into those clothes in the back of your closet again.

The “Dos” of Food

  • Do make a meal plan. If you aren’t sure where to start, has resources to help you make your meals both nutritious and affordable.

  • Do make a list before you go grocery shopping. If the paper list on the fridge never seems to come along to the store, make the list on your phone instead.

  • Do prep for your meals ahead of time. When you’re hungry, the faster the food can be ready, the better it looks.

The “Dos” of Activity

  • Do make it fun. If it’s something you look forward to, you’ll be less likely to skip it. Start a fun bucket list. If you have a 4th grader, every park in the country is free. Suncadia is full of activities year round. Visit the bounce house or learn with Legos. Geocaching adds more incentive for reluctant hikers. Healthy exercise doesn’t need to be expensive. Find kids’ exercise videos online, make an obstacle course inside or outside, take a walk at Irene Rhinehart or right in your neighborhood. Start seeds on your window sill and plant a garden this spring. Kids tend to eat what they grow, especially if you let them pick some fun things like blue potatoes and purple peppers.

  • Do be consistent. Huffing and puffing and sore muscles will come with you on all your activities if you only exercise in infrequent bursts.

  • Do make it doable. Children and adolescents need to average about an hour of activity each day (And the adults need to join in for at least half that time.) but it could be broken into increments. You might want to devote one or two evenings a week and one day each weekend to something active. You may choose to have an hour of energy expending right after school. Any way you manage to add in 300 minutes of activity each week, do it in a way that works for your family.

And one more "Do" - Do comment and share how your family has fun being fit.

Diane M. Bowman, CMA, CCRC

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