By: Cassie Vanderwall, MS, RD, LDN, CPT
Nutrition and physical activity can be a family affair. Often times lifestyle changes can be a bit easier when pursued as a group, because you have people to provide support and motivation. As a parent or caregiver, you play a very important role in your family’s nutrition, behavior and physical activities. If you are active, then your family will most likely make it a habit to be active, too.
Being physically active helps you and your family to learn healthy habits. Regular physical activity can help:
- Develop motor skills and coordination.
- Sleep better.
- Have more energy.
- Keep a healthy weight
- Lower the chance of developing obesity, high blood pressure type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
- Spend time together as a family and have fun!
Everyone- adults and children- need at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. This can sound like a long time, but you can break it into shorts periods.
Here’s how a family may achieve 60 minutes:
Walking to school (10 minutes)
Playing “tag” at recess (20 minutes)
Walking home from school (10 minutes)
Going for a family walking after dinner (20 minutes)
Total: 60 minutes
Another way to sneak in physical activity is to turn the television and the computer off. Experts recommend that parents limit their child’s “screen” time or inactivity to two hours or less each day. This goes for adults, too. Screen time includes watching television, using the computer and playing video games. This is because too much inactivity is not healthy, and can promote weight gain. Use this time to play at a local park, or go on a bike ride. Perhaps, you and your family could play catch or shoot hoops.
If you are just starting out try to walk 10 minutes more, most days of the week and slowly increase to your goal. Or, wear a pedometer to track your steps with a goal of 10,000 steps per day. The most important part about physical activity and exercise is that you do it regularly.
Other helpful resources include:
- Let’s Move!, www.letsmove.gov/get-active
- Get Active! NIH, www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/obesity/wecan/get-active
- Get Active Now! American Heart Association, http://bit.ly/9sz3L8
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