In September, families with school-aged children settle back into a busy routine full of sedentary activities and less healthy eating habits. Considering this national trend, one out of every three children in the U.S. is either overweight or obese. There’s also a 70% chance obese children will remain overweight into adulthood. As National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, September is a good time to re-examine your family’s nutrition and fitness habits and consider making meaningful changes to keep both you and your children healthy. You can beat the statistics, and here’s how.
Get Kids Involved in Active Hobbies
Kids these days have less organized gym time in school, and their leisure time is filled with sedentary activities like video/computer games and Snapchatting. Not every kid loves team sports, but every kid can love a sport. Find something active your kids love to do on a regular basis and sign them up for classes. Give them opportunities to try out new activities like martial arts, dance, outdoor sports, BMX biking, or swimming. Connecting them with something they love early on will keep them interested and naturally promote their health and fitness.
Lead by Example
Like other areas of life, kids will follow your lead when it comes to fitness. Are you active? Do you have a fitness gym membership? Do you use it? Making your own fitness a priority sends kids the message that it should be a priority for them, as well. If you have older kids or teens, why not bring them along to your fitness center workouts and show them the ropes of the machines and exercise tools? You’ll be spending quality time and getting them familiar with fitness resources they will find helpful as they grow into adulthood.
Pack Lunches and Prepare Meals
We know: it’s challenging to find time to prepare actual meals for you and your family when everyone’s running in a million different directions. Take the time the night before to pack lunches for yourself as well as your kids so you can make sure they’re getting nutritious lunches they’ll also enjoy. When it comes to dinner, take a cue from many busy families who spend one weekend day a month cooking and freezing nutritious soups and casseroles that can be easily re-heated for busy weeknight meals.
Make Meal Prep a Family Event
Kids are used to consuming whatever they’re given without thinking about the ingredients and their nutritional values. When you have a little extra time on the weekend, involve the whole family in meal preparation. Not only is this a great opportunity to teach them useful life skills, but you can teach them food groups, portioning, and how to swap out recipe ingredients with better options – setting them up for a lifetime of healthy eating habits.
Get Them Doing Active Chores
Chores prepare kids for the responsibilities of adulthood, and active chores like vacuuming, sweeping, or mowing the lawn are also activities that get them moving. Besides, involving the kids in household duties means less work for you, and what parent doesn’t love that?
Get Kids Outside
Yes, the days are getting shorter and the air is getting crisper, but there are still plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy. Limit their sedentary screen time and encourage your kids to get outside by initiating family activities like walking, Pokémon Go, yardwork, or riding bikes around the neighborhood. Again, the more you lead by example, the more likely your kids are to follow!