Board games, movie nights and vacations — lots of things are better as a family. And that includes getting and staying healthy.
So moms and dads, get the whole family involved in moving more and eating right. If that sounds great in theory but you’re not sure how to make better health a family affair, here’s a five-step plan:
Make family time active time. Bike to the library together or explore a nearby park. Encourage everybody to train for a charity walk or run. Is somebody’s birthday coming up? Celebrate with something active — a pool party, volleyball game or hike. And ask your kids for ideas on ways to be active as a family. Then follow through with some of their favorite picks.
“My family and I enjoy going out with other family members and friends around the neighborhood for walks, biking and swimming,” says Thomas Dunn, D.O., with Kettering Physician Network Primary Care at Springboro Health Center. “The more friends and family you include the more the kids enjoy these activities.”
Stay away from screens. Every moment sitting is a moment nobody’s moving. Limit kids’ TV, computer and video game time to one or two hours each day. And remember, kids imitate their parents. So set a good example and minimize your screen time, too.
“Computer activities like the WII Fit are also excellent fitness options and should not count towards your screen time allowance,” suggests Dr. Dunn. “These can very helpful with your exercise regimen and you should continue to utilize them.”
Keep a family activity log. Track everyone’s progress and post the results on your fridge. For a sample log, go to www.morehealth.org/parenttips.
“I love the idea of sticker charts,” Dr. Dunn says. “Kids love to see that they have accomplished something positive and they also get the reward of a sticker of their choice.”
Provide healthy food choices. Put a bowl of washed fruit on the table where it’s easy to see and grab. And shop smart at the grocery store. Choosing good-for-you foods is easier when foods like chips and candy aren’t in your pantry.
“Fruits and vegetables are always the way to go but make it fun for the kids,” advises Dr. Dunn. “Cut out your fruit items into the shape of animals. Make melon balls or fruit balls for the kids — anything that will get their attention and keep them wanting more.”
Gather in the kitchen and around the table. Let your kids help you plan and prepare healthy foods. Eat together as a family as much as you can. Table time helps kids and parents stay close — a real win-win.