Keeping kids active and healthy
School is back in session and parents across the Umpqua Valley continue juggling a full schedule of kids, school activities and work commitments. Many parents want to ensure that their kids stay healthy, active and eating well throughout the year while dealing with already over-packed schedules. Help your kids be at their best, mentally and physically, by promoting at least an hour of daily physical play, as recommended by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Another way to integrate healthy choices is to encourage your kids to be involved in meal planning and cooking so they can learn healthy eating habits that will benefit them for years to come.
Get kids moving
Balancing homework, chores and preparing meals, it can seem impossible to find time for fitness for yourself, let alone your kids. As parents, it’s important to teach your children the importance of regular physical activity and set a good example of working in activities as your schedule allows. Even if it’s just a few loops around the neighborhood after dinner. An active lifestyle can help your kids stay alert in the classroom. Plus, exercise gets blood flowing and helps pump oxygen to the brain, which boosts kids’ energy, helps them to think clearer and can lead to better sleep. Promoting daily play for your kids positively affects more than just their bodies—it affects their brains.
Technology, including tablets, iPhones and video games, is often a big distraction and one that keeps children from being physically active before and after school. Talk to your kids about why it’s important that they do other things besides play on their devices. Set rules about how much screen time is okay per day, too. One way that parents can help limit screen time is to have your kids place all media devices in a tray by the front door when they get home from school. Have all technology use out in common family areas too.
Outdoor and indoor physical fitness fun for everyone
Make it a family affair by turning every day activities into physical fitness fun. Turn daily activities like cleaning up, walking to school or the bus stop, and even unloading groceries into an exercise. Instilling healthy exercise habits in kids while they’re young can lead to long-term health benefits. Inactive kids are likely to grow up to become inactive adults. Active kids are less likely to develop chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease and cancer.
Along with daily physical activity, healthy eating is a habit that can contribute to long term health. Teaching your kids to take ownership of their health can be beneficial for the future. Try to include your kids in meal planning, grocery shopping and cooking. Meal prepping together can help your child become more aware of portion sizes and build awareness of healthy choices. It can also include teaching with elements of math through measuring, sizing and learning about protein, carbohydrates and sugars.
Help your kids exercise and eat right today so that they are set for a healthier future.
Mercy Foundation Healthy Kids Outreach Program
For the last 10 years, the Mercy Foundation’s Healthy Kids Outreach Program has worked to help kids throughout Douglas County be healthier through fun educational programs—enabling kids to succeed in school and in life. Kids learn about disease prevention, nutrition, and exercise and heart health. The Mercy Foundation’s Healthy Kids Outreach Program also connects children and families to health care resources right at school. Learn more by visiting www.mercygiving.org/hkop.
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