4 Ways to Make Your Whole Family Healthier
By Alison Chism
With today’s busy schedules, it can be challenging for families to create and maintain healthy lifestyles. Yet, it’s an important task to take on. In the United States, obesity rates among children have doubled since 1980, and over 60% of adults are considered overweight or obese. The good news is that by influencing your family’s physical activity, nutrition and social environment you can instill healthy habits that will last a lifetime. Here are four ways to start.
Take the Team Approach
When it comes to being healthy together, the key word is together. Working toward a healthy lifestyle as a family helps strengthen relationships and it gives kids a role model for being active and eating right. Also, a team approach creates a group mentality. By emphasizing the importance of doing things as a family, you will be more apt to be successful than you would be on your own.
Plan and Cook Meals Together
Studies show that when families cook and eat meals together, children are more likely to view nutrition as a positive experience. Eating meals together also creates time for bonding and building relationships. Tackling proper nutrition may seem daunting, but aiming for this as a family can make it easier. Involve everyone in planning, shopping, and preparing meals.
Be Active Together
Another way to be healthier as a family is to make fitness part of your routine. Make an “appointment” to take a walk after dinner at least three times per week. If you have it planned and on the schedule (like a doctor’s visit or deadline), you’ll be more likely to follow through. In addition, over time it will become more of a habit instead of a task on your list.
Also do a search for local parks to visit, trails to bike, and playgrounds to explore. Bring a frisbee or other toys. Remember, physical activity means incorporating movement into your day. It doesn’t always have to mean going to the gym.
Identify Family Rewards Together
To stay motivated and positive, rewarding yourself is critical in any healthy lifestyle change. Sit down as a family and identify rewards for hitting milestones in your journey, such as walking a 5k together, trying a new sport, or adding a certain number of healthy meals to your rotation.
Doing this as a family helps build stronger relationships and increases support for each other. Try to choose different kinds of rewards, for example, new tennis shoes for everyone, a night out together at the movies and a favorite restaurant, or even a trip to the beach or mountains. Start with small rewards for reaching short-term goals, and work toward larger rewards for long-term goals.
Getting fit as a family is not only healthy, it’s also fun. You’ll create healthy habits and great memories, all at the same time. For more strategies for healthy living, contact the fitness professionals at the YMCA.
About Alison Chism
Alison Chism is the Health & Wellness Director at the YMCA Glendale Sports Center at Infinity Park. She is certified as a ACSM Personal Trainer, ACE Health Coach and TRX Suspension Trainer. She is also certified in ACSM Exercise is Medicine. She has a bachelor of science degree in health promotion and is pursuing a master’s degree in health and wellness management.