Getting your family healthier doesn’t have to be a major undertaking. Small steps in a few key areas can get your family on track in a hurry. Here are 20 tips to improve family health.
Log Screen Time. You can’t do anything about it if you don’t think it’s a problem – start tracking how much time your family spends in front of various “screens”. This includes TV- and DVD-watching, playing video games, using the computer for something other than school or work and texting.
You’ll be surprised at how much time these activities take up!
Set Screen Time Limits for the Household. Create a house rule that limits screen time to two hours every day. Remember, screen time includes television, movie watching, game playing, Internet surfing and texting. More importantly, enforce the rule.
Create Screen-free Bedrooms. Kids who have TVs in their room tend to watch about 1.5 hours more TV a day than those who don’t. Likewise, it is more difficult to monitor computer activity if it’s located in a child’s bedroom. Plus, it keeps kids in their room instead of spending time with the rest of the family.
Make Meal Time = Family Time not TV Time. If you have a TV in the eating area of your home, move it. Turn off the TV during meals so that you can’t hear it.
Don’t Use Screen Time as Reward or Punishment for Kids. Providing extra screen time for good behavior or less screen time for poor behavior can make those activities seem even more important to children.
Walk It! The average car trip is less than a mile. The average city block (depending on location) is between 1/16 and 1/8th of a mile. So, instead of hopping in the car, walk the 8 blocks, or so. It will still, probably, take you less time than hunting for a parking spot.
Park in the Back of the Lot. If you have to drive to your location, instead of circling around the parking lot looking for the spot closest to the door, save gas and get some extra physical activity by parking in the back of the parking lot.
Take the Stairs. Walking up (and down) stairs is a good cardiovascular exercise, that’s why so many gyms have StairMaster machines. So, whenever you can, bypass the elevator and expensive gym fees and take the stairs in as many places as you can. Be sure to add a few extra minutes in case you have to take it slow.
Dance It. Dancing is a great way for people of all ages to get, and stay, in shape. Besides being fun, dancing has many positive health benefits. Dancing increases flexibility, increases strength, builds endurance and just plain makes you feel good.Whether you know the steps, or not, just put on your favorite music and let your feet move!
Try a New Physical Activity. There are literally hundreds of physical activities and sports that individuals can participate in – no matter how large or small the community. Try something you haven’t done before or revisit something that you’ve tried in the past. Possibilities include bowling, going to the batting cage, disc golf or Frisbee, kayaking, yoga or T’ai Chi.
Visit Presidents Challenge for a list of over a hundred activities and ways to log how active you are.
5 Tips for a Healthier Lifestyle
Cook together as a family. Cooking together, as a family, allows each member to have more input into what the family eats. They have a better idea of where food comes from and how it’s prepared. It’s a great way to spend more time with your family. Plus, if everyone is there to help, you can accomplish the dinner making tasks much faster
Make eating together a priority. Schedule family meals at least two to three times a week. Family meals are a good time to talk to each other. Research shows that families who eat together tend to eat more nutritious meals.
Visit a Farmer’s Market. Fresh fruits and vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet. Although many large grocery store chains have excellent produce departments, many of the fruits and vegetables are from foreign countries, are grown with pesticides or irradiated so that they can survive the trip from the farm to the grocery store. [NOTE: foreign countries are allowed to use pesticides which are not permitted in the United States.]
A local farmer’s market provides an important link between your community and fresh food sources. Citizens have an opportunity to interact with the farmers whose food they eat. Small farmers, generally, also utilize more eco-friendly farming techniques. And, children get in touch with seeing food that isn’t canned, frozen or processed. Find a Farmer’s market near you.
Plan/Plant Your Garden. Not only does a vegetable garden provide an amazing cost saving for food, it is a much better use of available land than grass or ornamental plantings. Gardening also provides healthy physical activity and a connection to the earth in which every member of the family can participate, regardless of age.
Take Time to Unwind. Stress impacts a person’s health. Whether the stress comes from the environment or personal matters, all stress causes a negative response in the body. Over time, the body becomes more susceptible to illness and disease. Taking the time to unwind and reducing, removing and de-stressing helps lessen the negative impact on the body and improves overall health and well being.
Get Enough Sleep. Sleep is important for people of all ages. Getting enough sleep has been shown to increase one’s ability to fight off diseases, improve your cardiovascular health and improve mood. Sleep can also help with improving one’s ability to concentrate, learning and memory, in addition to reducing irritability and impatience.
The average amount of sleep needed by people is 8 hours a night. But, many people can do well on 6 hours, where others need as much as 10. The absolute amount of sleep needed varies from person to person.
Perhaps the best thing about getting enough sleep is that people then have more energy to do what they like to do.
5 Tips to Add Fruits and Vegetables to Your Diet
Breakfast. Add a handful of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, or banana to your morning cereal. Dried apricots, raisins, cranberries, currents, dates or figs are also a tasty addition.
Morning or Afternoon Snack. Fight off that urge to reach for a muffin, pastry, bag of chips or candy bar. Instead, reach for an apple, orange, pear or banana (they come in their own convenient packaging), or a small bag of grapes, cherries or blueberries.
Lunch. Have a vegetable based soup – the possibilities are endless: tomato, butternut squash, pumpkin, mushroom, vegetable (hot or cold as gazpacho), potato, onion, spinach, asparagus, broccoli, even carrot. Or, in the summer, try a cold fruit-based soup – there are some great options for watermelon, strawberry, raspberry, nectarine and pear soups – refreshing.
Dinner. Add onions, summer squash, mushrooms, bell pepper, carrots or eggplant to spaghetti/tomato sauce and serve over pasta.
Dessert. Instead of eating cake or ice cream for dessert, have baked pears or apples, or grilled pineapple, peaches, or nectarines.