Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Take a Walk Outdoors Day

January is Family Fit Lifestyle Month and today is, appropriately, Take a Walk Outdoors Day. So how do you plan to spend it?

The website Work Smart, Live Smart offers these suggestions for your family:

Outdoor activities such as taking a nature walk together are a great way of keeping the family fit and spending quality time together

Reward each other’s participation in fitness activities. Be each other’s cheerleader.

Start a fitness diary and record how far or long each family member participated in an activity

Be a positive fitness and healthy role model for your children. One disturbing study found that french fries were the most popular vegetable for 15-18 month old children. Children learn about nutrition from their parents. Set boundaries and limits so that it is easier for everyone in the family to make healthy food choices. (Appropriate portions for a typical dinner meal – plate 1/2 filled with fruits and veggies, 1/4 with protein and 1/4 whole grains.)

Drink more water and limit beverages that add needless calories such as pop and artificial fruit juices

Get more sleep. Children need between 9-11 hours and adults need on average 7-9 hours. Inadequate sleep leads to greater appetite, weight gain and lethargy

Have fun. Fitness shouldn’t be boring or feel like drudgery. If it does that you haven’t found the right activities. Some of us prefer activities that we can do alone. Some of us need the watchful eye of a coach. Some of us prefer team settings. Fitness activities should be something that we look forward to.

Research funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development found kids spend 2 hours less per week outdoors than they did 20 years ago. With this decrease in outdoor activity comes an increase in health problems, including obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

Kids that spend time outdoors in gardens and nature are more focused, perform better in school and have less problems with ADD symptoms. And all of us feel the benefit as our blood pressure is lowered and mood improved.

I am blessed to have a perfect walking track in a park just outside my neighborhood. We all use it as often as possible. I am always pleased to see how many people regularly use it, and how many different ages.

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