Families are busier now than ever before with hectic work, school and extracurricular schedules, and it can be tempting to grab fast food on the way home and relax in front of the TV after a long day. However, this type of sedentary behavior leads to all kinds of health problems. Spending too much time watching TV sets a bad example for kids and increases the risk of obesity and other health problems.
The following is a guide for healthy families that will help you to encourage and maintain an active, healthy lifestyle:
Cook when possible
It’s easy to grab fast food or takeout when you’re busy or you’ve had a long day, but they are often loaded with calories, fat and other unhealthy ingredients. Cook healthy meals for your family whenever possible. You can even cook dinners and then freeze them for later when you’re busy. Not only will you save money, but cooking instead of eating take-out will also save your waistline and overall health.
At the same time, when school is in session, pack your kids’ lunches instead of letting them buy lunch at school, which are often processed foods loaded with fat and calories. This is a great way to save money and encourage healthy eating.
Get in the habit of exercise
Exercise and an active lifestyle will help you live longer, fight obesity and stay healthier in general. Get in the habit of exercise by scheduling exercise into your day, whether that means joining a gym or taking a walk every day.
Here are some great ideas for working exercise into your family schedule:
• Go for family bike rides or walks. Find local bike and walking trails, or just go for a walk or ride around the neighborhood. If you have small children, put them in a stroller or consider getting a jogging stroller. If you’re planning on riding bikes, you can buy accessories for your children that attach to your bike.
• Play outside with your kids. Parents might be surprised at the work out they get chasing their kids around outside, whether it’s pushing them on swings at the playground, playing tag in the backyard or tossing a Frisbee as a family.
• Make exercise a priority. Instead of looking at exercise as something you have to do, make it fun for everyone and make it a priority so it becomes something everyone wants to do.
Limit TV watching
TV itself is not inherently unhealthy, but watching TV every night for hours or allowing kids to watch TV uninterrupted all day and night is a habit to avoid. Instead, limit TV watching to no more than two hours each day. Make sure the TV stays off during meals, and keep TVs out of children’s bedrooms. Many parents have come up with creative ways to limit TV and work in exercise at the same time; for example, for every minute the child spends watching TV, he has to spend an equal amount of time playing outside or getting some sort of exercise, like going for a walk.
Staying healthy as a family is not difficult to do. Create traditions and family activities to help your family get and stay healthy. Eating right, limiting TV time, playing and working out together and encouraging healthy habits are great ways to get and keep your family healthy and happy.