Every parent hopes to raise children who will develop into responsible, healthy adults. In today’s society, that isn’t such an easy task. The temptations of fast food restaurants on virtually every corner and the general lack of regular exercise programs make it difficult for parents to ensure that their children will grow up with healthy habits. There are, however, some useful steps you can take in the early stages to help your children become fit and healthy adults.
Turn off the TV
The American Heart Association suggests that parents should limit their children’s time in front of the tube to “less than 2 hours per day” (http://www.americanheart.org). Instead of popping in a DVD after school, take your kids for a walk or a bike ride. The more opportunities you give your children for some physical activity, the sooner they will see the importance of daily exercise.
Make fitness fun!
Working out doesn’t have to be a chore, especially for children. Make a game out of getting in some cardiovascular exercise. Take a trip to the roller skating rink with your teenagers, or create an obstacle course out of cardboard boxes and blankets for your crawling toddlers. The possibilities are endless for the ways you can make exercise an exciting, integral part of your lives.
Prepare “heart-healthy” meals
Incorporate nutritious foods into your meal planning. Try offering fish (rich in heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids) or foods that are high in fiber and whole grains. Suggest that your children eat vegetables and fruits for snacks. Take stress off of your life during busy times by preparing several healthier snacks at the beginning of the week and storing them in individual Ziploc bags. Then there will be no excuse for not having healthy options readily on hand.
Be a good role model
The most important thing you can do as a parent is to set good examples for your children. If they see you eating junk food, they will be more likely to want to do the same thing. Likewise, if they watch you preparing healthy meals and nutritious snacks, your kids will learn to choose fruits and vegetables instead of processed foods.
A little creativity and preparation can go a long way in helping parents to raise healthy children. Remember that a healthy, nutritious diet combined with an active lifestyle doesn’t have to be fancy. Your kids will probably be quite happy to run in the park on a Fall day or learn how to play a new sport. Start instilling a love for fitness and smart eating at a young age, and your children will be well on their way to becoming healthy adults.