By Real Life guide contributor, Joseph A. Skelton, MD, MS
Getting the whole family involved in healthy living is good for everyone—good for parents and grandparents who are active in TOPS, good for teens struggling with their weight and good for preventing obesity in young children. These tips can help get you started!
- Are you getting some amount of activity daily? A quick walk in the morning and a game of tag in the afternoon with your kids counts, too.
- Try to set house rules that encourage healthy behavior. Talk as a family about what the rules should be, and then set an example.
- Take up exergaming. These are video games that actually require movement. Many of these games can get your heart pumping and build strength.
- For family night, try something active. Go bowling, take a hike or go to a water park.
- Set a family rule that no one gets more than two hours a day of electronic “screen time.” This includes TV, video games, internet and cell phones.
- If you don’t have time to grocery shop once or twice a week, and fast food keeps finding its way into the house, adjust the family schedule.
- Track your goals. Making a chart with pasteboard and stickers may work well for a family with younger children, while teens may prefer to write in a journal.
- Younger children often are not excited about a fitness video. Talk about which activities can be fun. For some children, it is sports. For some, it is martial arts.
- Take a look at your home environment and think about what you change to support healthy choices. You may want to remove TVs or move the candy jar out of sight.
- Reach out to other parents or parenting professionals to develop skills to move your family in a healthy direction.