Prepare kids for a lifetime of wellness
As a parent, you have a lot on your plate raising your family. You may not have the time to learn how you can encourage your kids to have healthy habits, so here are a few ideas.
Exercise is essential for building strong bones and muscles and healthy hearts and lungs.
Set a goal for your kids to get moderate to vigorous exercise for at least 60 minutes daily. Do their hearts beat fast? Do they breathe heavily and sweat? If so, they are doing it right.
Make exercise a daily family activity. Take a walk after dinner. Go on a bike ride or nature hike together. Shoot hoops. Play tag. Use swings and jungle gyms. Both you and your kids will get a workout.
Limit screen time. Encourage your kids to get some exercise instead of staring at a screen.
Encourage a nutritious diet
Eating healthy foods starts at the family table.
Refuel each morning. Start your children's day off right with a healthy breakfast.
Enlist everyone's help. Let kids help plan and prepare at least one meal each week. (They may love to eat what they make!)
Serve a variety of healthy foods and beverages. Put more fruits, vegetables and whole grains — like oats, brown rice and whole-grain pasta — on the family menu. Choose low-fat proteins and dairy products and healthy vegetable fats when grocery shopping. Offer your kids water, low-fat or nonfat milk, or low-calorie beverages.
Make it a game. Your kids can help track on a chart how many healthy foods the family eats in a week.
Encourage other healthy habits
Keep your kids sun safe. A few serious sunburns in childhood can lead to skin cancer later in life. Have kids wear a hat, sunglasses and clothing that covers their legs and arms, and use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
Tell them no smoking. Talk to your kids about why smoking harms their health and well-being.
Help them build strong teeth. Brushing twice daily can keep your kids' tooth enamel strong against decay. Drinking fluoridated water or using fluoride rinses can also help. Talk to your dentist about age-appropriate dental habits.
Working these tips into your day does require planning. Once you have the routine down, your kids will learn healthy habits that will serve them for a lifetime.
Sources: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; American Academy of Family Physicians; American Academy of Pediatrics