Healthy Tip # 97

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Welcome to the category of my blog simply called ‘Healthy Tips.’ Many times, when I write articles for various publications, I need to find sources for the story as seen in Yahoo Shine (click here) or PBS (click here) about staying healthy. I was looking for experts and non-experts to chime in and give their favorite ‘tips’ to help kids and adults lead a healthy lifestyle.

The feedback for various stories was amazing. The sources had some fantastic points of view that could not be ignored, and I thought their opinions should be viewed on the Your Health Journal web site.

So, enjoy my new series, with some ‘great’ insight from some ‘great’ people giving exceptional and educational points of view.

Healthy Tip From Neva Avery

The importance of families exercising together

With any good behavior we want our children to adopt, we as parents need to model that same behavior. Regular physical activity in conjunction with a healthy diet are important aspects of a healthy lifestyle. With obesity rates increasing in children and adults, the need to get active together will benefit the entire family. Also, engaging in activities together helps to create a family bond.

Suggestions / creative ideas to get families to exercise together

familysoccerSometimes the word “exercise” will lead people to believe they have to go to the gym or go run with their. It’s just about being more active. I often tell individuals if you’re off the couch and moving, you’re on the right track.

Here’s a list of ideas to choose from:

* Interactive video games (Nintendo Wii, Kinect) are fun and there are many options of activities including sports, dancing, etc.

* Family walks after dinner–a good time to catch up on the day. Take the dog…our pets need activity too!

* Visit interactive museums (Marbles, NC Museum of Life & Science) or zoos.

* Volunteer activities with older children like Habitat for Humanity. This teaches your children about the importance of helping others while being active.

* Active play is really important for children. Get outside as a family and play kickball, softball, shoot hoops.

* Bowling.

* Something as simple as hide & seek will get kids moving too.

* Weekend hike & picnic.

* Check out the local Farmer’s Market–combine walking with healthy eating.

* Put on music and sing and dance. Kids love it!

* Start a vegetable garden. Garden upkeep is active and children are more likely to eat their vegetables if they had a part in growing them.

* Good old favorites for the little kids–Simon says, red light/green light, run races in the backyard.

* Swimming

Reasons why families are not exercising together as much in our modern day era

I think there are several reasons for this, and here are a few:

* Parents tend to work more today. The regular 9-5 schedule is becoming less common and parents have to or feel they need to work more than 40 hrs per week. In addition, the suburbs keep expanding away from the cities so parents are not only working longer hours but also adding on a longer commute which decreases family time.

* Overall, we’ve become a more sedentary society. Screen time (TV, video games, computer) for adults and children has greatly increased over the years. With the exception of interactive video games, increased screen time lends itself to a very sedentary lifestyle.

* PE programs and recess in schools have been dramatically cut. Kids are learning less about active play. PE once was a daily activity in schools and now may only be 1-2 times per week.

* Fast food and processed foods don’t fuel the body appropriately. Poor nutrition will leave adults and children alike feeling lethargic. When energy is low, the motivation to get active is low.

* People don’t feel as safe being out and about.

As mentioned before, the key with kids is to focus on physical activity and play, not structured exercise. They need to have fun or they won’t want to do it.

– Neva Avery, Fitness Director of the Duke Diet and Fitness Center