For children, adult family members are important role models. Our lives are very hectic, but a few simple daily lifestyle changes can instill heart healthy eating and exercise habits in your children.
1. Get you and your kids moving! Allow time for activities the entire family can participate in. Pick two 30-minute and two 60-minute time slots for family activity time each week. Weekdays are usually better for 30-minute activities and weekends are better for 60-minute activities. Here are some fun ideas for the entire family:
- Family game night.
- Shoot some hoops or throw a ball.
- Walk the dog. No dog? Take a walk after dinner.
- Explore a nearby park, on foot or on a bike.
- Turn up the music and have a dance around the house party.
- Do fun chores that require physical activity – like raking leaves, washing the car, or vacuuming the dust bunnies under the beds.
2. Limit screen time!
- Plan TV watching in advance. Pick the shows you want to watch. Turn the TV on for those shows and turn it off afterwards. Don’t just watch whatever comes on next.
- Limit TV, computer, and video game time. Experts recommend that kids get no more than 1-2 hours of TV/computer/video games a day.
- Remove televisions from bedrooms. And avoid using TV as a reward or punishment.
- Get off that couch and get active with your kids!
3, Eat healthy! Keep track of how many times you grab food on the go for one week. Make a change and take the time to prepare healthy food and try to eat fewer fast and processed foods. With a little planning, it is easy to make healthy food. Plan a weekly menu, go shopping and prep those healthy snacks and meals with your kids. Treat your family like a team and encourage everyone to work together.
4. Manage stress! Our non-stop lifestyle isn’t sustainable or healthy. As a parent, making sure the heads and hearts in your home are healthy is a lot to handle. Prioritize your activities and see what you can do without, so you’ll have more time for the things that matter.
5. Walk the walk! The best way to influence your kids’ behavior is through example. If you want your kids to eat healthy and exercise, you’ve got to eat healthy and exercise. The key is to take baby steps. Getting heart-healthy is a journey; you don’t have to do everything at once.