You’ve stocked up on school supplies, the backpacks are loaded and you’re bidding farewell to summer with a Labor Day picnic. Why not kick-off a new season for family health and fitness? Give your kids a healthy head start for life – help them learn to make smart eating and physical activity choices, both important to lower risk for many cancers and other chronic diseases.
On Tuesday, Melissa Halas-Liang shared terrific ideas for getting kids involved in healthier eating – try some of those tips at your picnic. And you can get your children moving more this weekend with just a little planning and equipment that you probably have on hand.
Family Backyard Triathlon: gather enough jump ropes for each participant, a whistle and a timer. Spread everyone out in your yard or the park, issue a jump rope to each participant and begin:
- Blow the whistle to start the rope jump event. Aim for an age appropriate number of minutes, then blow the whistle when time is up. Cheer and applaud!
- Demonstrate how to do a plank (or push-ups or yoga pose if you prefer). Whistle to start and challenge everyone to hold the pose for as long – or do as many push-ups – as they can. When everyone is done, stand up and do some deep breathing before exchanging high fives.
- Finally, start the timer and blow the whistle for the jumping jack event. You can set a time, or allow everyone to do jumping jacks as long as they are able.
Completing a triathlon deserves a prize! Let the kids keep the jump rope or give them something like sidewalk chalk and show them how to play Hopscotch.
What will you do for family fitness this weekend?
When we hear the words high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or heart disease, we often imagine older adults, not children! But with today’s technology, we have the power to spot the early signs of heart disease before any symptoms manifest, and the results are shocking.
By measuring cholesterol in healthy children, and examining the arteries of kids and teens that have passed away, we have learned that heart disease start young- very young. In one study, 70% of overweight children had at least one risk factor for heart disease, and 39% had two or more factors.
Risk factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, and insulin resistance. The more risk factors one has, the greater the chances of developing heart disease that damages the cardiovascular system. As overweight and obesity increased, the proportion of children with at least two risk factors increased from 5% to 59%. And excess weight starts early, with more than one third of children and adolescents now overweight or obese.
If you’re planning one last summer get-away before it’s back-to-school and back-to-work, make it a time to boost your family’s health to stay on the road to a cancer preventive lifestyle.
Starting early in life to help your children develop healthy habits can pay off now and in the future because it can help them learn how to make healthy eating and staying active a routine part of their daily choices.
Here’s three ideas for your vacation, which you can make fun and delicious with a little organizing and family input.
- Personalize snack stash: allow your children to pack their own snack sack for the road. With a few ground rules, take them shopping so they can select their own fresh fruit and vegetable, favorite cheese or yogurt, whole grain crackers and sweet treat. These are snacks they can eat when they want – 5 miles down the road, or they can space them out over a few days. This can go a long way to limit impulse purchases at the convenience store or airport.
- Family Fitness: Plan ahead for some physical activity every day. You could have family members each choose one activity that can be done by everyone – for example, take along jump ropes, Frisbees, stretch bands, sturdy walking shoes or yoga mats. Here’s a video of some basic stretch band exercises, for example.
- Explore local foods: Check out area farmer’s markets, family friendly farms or other food outlets that promote locally grown produce. Besides finding some tasty specialties, you may get to hear farmers, growers and producers’ talk about their food, how it was grown and how they like to prepare it.
Check out Healthy Kids Today – Prevent Cancer Tomorrow tookits for great ideas, activities and recipes to get your kids excited about healthy habits.