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Health and Fitness
A Family Plan for Healthy Living
By Megan Riede 
Jul 24, 2010, 14:30

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The summer months naturally lend themselves to outdoor family activities. As families prepare for back to school, it’s not uncommon for family time to begin to take a back seat to school priorities. As you move into a busy fall, try to make it a priority to squeeze in some family time and one great way to do this is by engaging in physical activities together.  Children are naturally active and love jumping around and playing, and with the return to school, they are going to want to burn off energy – not to mention steal some time with mom and dad too . Getting them engaged in physical activity, and some family bonding time, not only helps children succeed in school, but it also encourages children to develop positive attitudes toward healthy lifestyles. By doing so at an early age also makes it more likely children will carry healthy-living habits with them into adulthood.


Getting Started


  • Identify the types of physical activities your family enjoys.  According to the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans by the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, children and adults should engage in physical activities for 60 minutes each day. This is especially important for young children and adolescents, to ensure they continue to build strong bones and muscles. Daily activities can include light-intensity activities such as standing and lifting light-weight objects, and high-intensity activities such as jumping rope and dancing. The goal of each activity should be to improve bone health, flexibility, body composition, and cardiovascular and muscular fitness. Work as a family to create a list of physical activities your family already enjoys doing together, such as hiking or gardening. Then brainstorm a list of new activities to try, such as bicycling or kicking a soccer ball in the park. As your family thinks of new activities, keep adding them to the list.


  • Determine a schedule for physical activities together.  After you have identified the activities your family enjoys, choose one or two activities to participate in each day. List the activities on your family calendar and mark off each day’s activities together so everyone can look forward to the next day’s activities.


  • Discuss the importance of good nutrition and healthy eating habits.  Eating healthy and physical exercise go hand in hand in a healthy lifestyle.  Children look to adults to teach them about foods that are healthy for their bodies as well as to model healthy eating. Talking about good nutrition with children can be as simple as explaining the need to eat foods from different food groups to ensure their bodies receive the vitamins and minerals needed to stay healthy. To compliment your physical activity, as a family create menus that include healthy foods everyone enjoys. Select meals from the menu to make for dinner on scheduled family physical activity nights.


One of the best things you can do for your children today is to help them develop the knowledge and lifestyle habits that will help them live happy and healthy lives tomorrow. With the start of the school year, there is no better time to develop healthy, family rituals to get children going on the right foot all year long.

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