Make your fitness resolution stick by involving the whole family! A commitment to fitness helps build a stronger, healthier family unit — with benefits for every aspect of life: not just for your physical health, but also for your emotional, social, and mental well-being, too. Being fit can lead to:
- A healthier body … with better resistance to common sniffles and “bugs” and with less risk for life-changing health issues, such as heart disease, some cancers, diabetes and osteoporosis.
- More physical energy, physical strength and endurance … to do what’s important to you and your family, to protect yourselves in emergencies and to learn and be more productive at school and at work.
- Looking and feeling your personal best … which builds self-esteem and self-confidence (something valued for adults and kids).
- A sense of well-being … which encourages a positive outlook and stamina to handle the daily stresses, challenges and ups and downs of your busy lives.
- Positive interactions with family and friends … which adds fun and a better quality of life.
How to Follow a “Family Fit Lifestyle” …
Smart eating, active living and adequate rest are central to family fitness. As a parent or caring adult for others, you’re the best role model to show and teach children the how-to’s of healthy lifestyles. To start…
Plan to eat smart. Involve kids in creating “healthy plates” = about half colorful fruits and vegetables, and about a quarter each of lean or low-fat protein foods and of grain choices. Make a low-fat or fat-free dairy food part of the meal, too. Tip: Figuring out a mixed dish, like Dreamfields Penne Rigate with Turkey, Swiss Chard and Walnuts, takes a little “kitchen math.”
Cook together, eat together. Taking a little extra time to involve kids in food prep helps them learn to enjoy a variety of vegetables and fruits. Likewise sharing family meals is a powerful strategy to encourage and model healthy eating. Tip: Fruit & Yogurt Elbow Salad is an easy dish even for young kids to assemble!
Be mindful as you eat. Encourage slower eating; talk about the foods. It’s easy to overeat without realizing when you eat too fast. Tip: Pasta twirled around a fork is often a slower-to-eat meal; put spaghetti, linguini or angel hair recipes on your family menus.
Make regular physical activity part of your family’s everyday routine: perhaps brisk, after-dinner walks; active fun (running a homemade obstacle course, jumping rope, hula hooping, dancing to music); and household chores (snow shoveling, raking). Try to fit in 60 minutes daily, if you can. And limit screen time! Tip: Plan now to plant a warm weather garden of fresh vegetables to grow and enjoy at your table. (Gardening is great exercise!)
Get enough sleep. Although there’s no magic number, advice from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute is this: for preschoolers, 11 to 12 hours daily, for school-aged kids, at least 10 hours daily, for teens, 9 to 10 hours daily and for adults, 7 to 8 hours daily. Sleep deficiency is linked to many health risks, including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and impaired immunity.