Monday, January 23, 2012

Benefits of Good Nutrition and Exercise for Kids

Do you feel like you are already in an exercise rut and it is not even February yet? Most of us make New Years’ resolutions to get fit and exercise on a regular basis. We join a gym or buy several home workout DVDs, determined to get up extra early or while the kids are in school, to burn some calories. We even get a new workout wardrobe and eat healthy for a while and then we hit a wall.  Our kids’ extra-curricular activities start to be our excuse, social gatherings or family get togethers get in the way of our healthy habits, or we just plain get burn out!
As moms, whether you work inside or outside the home, at the end of the day, we know it is so hard to get motivated to do anything. You are tired from the long day, chasing kids around or meeting a deadline, and you have no energy left to cook another meal so you opt to order take out. Believe me, I know!  However, I also know the importance of staying fit and eating healthy not only for my well-being, but also to be a good role model for my family.
There are so many benefits to staying active and eating healthy as a family. Yes, this all sounds like common sense, but just hear me out. When you establish good nutrition and encourage physical activity in your child from the very beginning, you are helping them develop life-long healthy habits.  Just like us, when we eat healthy and exercise regularly, we feel better and are able to perform better at work and in our daily lives. So when our kids are provided with nutritional meals and given opportunities to be active, it provides a long list of positives. They not only benefit physically, they can also perform better in school, focus better on the task at hand, and just feel better about themselves.
As a busy family, how do you sneak in healthy meals and exercise? Well, let me first say this, you don’t have to be a gourmet chef to provide nutritious meals.  I am definitely not! You also don’t have to be a gym rat or run a triathlon to say that you are fit and healthy either.  As long as you can make it a habit to slip in just 15 minutes a day of some kind of physical activity, you are on to a great start of healthy living for your family.  
 Here are just a few simple everyday ideas you can do, whether you like to exercise or not.
1.     Hit the neighborhood playground. The monkey bars are great for helping your kids with upper body strength. The rock wall or crossing the bridge helps with building leg muscles. Then, for you, just chasing the kids around or pushing them in the swings is a great workout. Hey! You could even revert back to when you raced to get the swings at recess and swing with your child. What a great core workout for everyone.
2.     Go on a nature walk or scavenger hunt in your neighborhood. If your neighborhood is hilly like mine, you and your family will get a great workout. Then, kids that are in the stroller or wagon, can also join in, by getting out here and there as they look for what’s on their list. Maybe they are searching for dandelions, pine cones or a fall leaf? On rainy or snow days, you can do a scavenger hunt in your house. Just make it fun and active for everyone!
3.     Backyard fun! Play a game in your backyard, like tag, soccer or kickball.
4.     Beat that cabin fever! Inside games on rainy days can be hide and go seek, a pillow fight, build a fort with sheets, pillows and chairs, or wobble around with a balloon between your legs and see who is the fastest.
5.     Commercial Break? During ads, dance, do jump jacks with your kids (helps them with counting), or do sit ups. If you have a baby or toddler, put them on your tummy and do sit ups. They will love the one-on-one attention.
6.     Dance Party! Turn up your favorite tunes and dance in the kitchen while cooking dinner or while cleaning up. Make sure you include the kids when cleaning up, etc.
Some nutritious snack ideas or could even be added to your child’s lunch: my kids love them!
  1. Pretzel Kabobs (got this idea from Parents magazine) Ham, turkey, and cheese rolled up together, sliced, and skewered with pretzel sticks
  2. PB and J on a whole wheat mini bagel
  3. Reduce Fat String cheese and crackers
  4. Hummus with carrot sticks, celery and pita wedges
  5. Strawberry and banana smoothie, great for breakfast too!
  6. Popcorn with light butter or cheese, fun to do on movie nights
  7. Banana nut bread, will post recipe later.
  8. Turkey, cheese and hummus on mini wheat sandwich thin. I use hummus instead of mayo
  9. Almond honey power bar, on December’s recipe list.
  10. Low-fat yogurt and apple slices
Remember, when you are healthy and active, your kids are going to be more motivated and encouraged to maintain a healthier lifestyle. To read more on the benefits of good nutrition and daily exercise for kids, go to:

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