Everybody needs at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity—enough to feel your heart pumping and increased breathing—every day. Luckily, we don't need to get all 60 minutes at once.
Healthy workplaces stock a fitness area or activity room for employees to use during the workday. The return on investment in employees' physical activity is significant—improvements in employee health as well as improvements in productivity, absenteeism, and morale.
Did you know that simple marketing and presentation strategies can affect the number of fruits and vegetables that students eat? Here are some Smarter Lunchroom strategies that encourage students to eat more fruits and vegetables:
Focus on Fruit
Offer at least two different kinds of fruit
Think beyond apples, bananas, and oranges. Smarter Lunchrooms expose students to a wide variety of fruits, including grapes, watermelon, mandarin oranges, peaches, berries, and kiwi. Fresh, frozen, dried, and canned are all equally nutritious.
Kids who cook and assist with meal preparation eat healthier foods. Start young. Preschoolers love helping in the kitchen, and even infants and toddlers can get involved.
- Clean vegetables and fruits
- Wash and rip lettuce and other greens
- Tear bread into smaller pieces
- Deliver shatterproof tableware to the table
What can you—as an employer, a school, a child care provider, or another community-based organization—do to help families unplug at home and limit recreational screen time to a maximum of two hours per day?
Educating parents, children, and families about what is healthy—and what the consequences of excessive screen time are—is one strategy. But you can also support their efforts to reduce screen time by making alternative activities available. Try offering activity kits.
Jump IN for Healthy Kids CEO Julie Burns will present a session on community engagement at the 2017 Indiana Health and Wellness Summit on October 3-4.
Get a sneak preview of her session, Connecting Wellness to Corporate Responsibility, by reading her guest blog post on the Summit's website.
Find out why community engagement is a strategic investment and how to align internal wellness initiatives with philanthropic activities. Get ideas for activities that corporations can pursue as well as ideas for individuals.
Four in ten kids in central Indiana are at an unhealthy weight. That's nearly a quarter million kids, or enough to fill Lucas Oil Stadium three times.
Because of their weight, these kids are at significantly higher risk for life threatening conditions including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
How did we get here?
The causes of the obesity epidemic are numerous and complex. Food has become highly processed, calorie dense, and “super-sized.” Many families lack access to affordable, healthy food. Children have fewer opportunities to play and be active, as recess and physical education classes have been reduced or cut entirely in schools. Too many kids spend too much time sitting in front of computer screens, tablets, or smart phones. Many of them live in neighborhoods that lack safe places to play.
As a result, simply promoting public awareness and “personal responsibility” will not solve this crisis. There are no simple or one-size-fits-all solutions.
A healthy diet keeps your child’s body and mind functioning at their best. For young athletes, healthy eating is essential to maintaining energy and focus for practice and games as well as replenishing nutrients afterwards.
Before you head to the drive-thru or pack sweet treats and Gatorade for the team, check out these simple, healthy alternatives for healthy eating before and after sports:
Before Practice and Games
Sports practice sometimes conflicts with the usual family meal time, but you’ll want to feed your child before heading over to the field. Healthy carbohydrates are a smart choice to give kids energy. If kids are eating roughly an hour before playing, include some protein to help keep them from getting hungry again too soon. Examples:
- Whole wheat crackers
- Popcorn (plain, no butter or additives)
- Peanut butter sandwich with banana
- Yogurt cups or tubes with fruit and/or granola
- Grapes and cheese
Some healthy foods can actually upset stomachs when kids are active. Avoid vegetables like sweet potatoes, potatoes, and bell peppers right before games and practices.
Local spotlight: IU Health West Day Early Learning explores wellness with stories, songs, dolls
Matt Miller, director of IU Health West Day Early Learning, had a few doubts about teaching his pre-K students about biological organ functions.
What sense would young children make of stories and songs about characters like Hardy Heart and the Kidney Brothers? Would preschoolers really be able to make connections between a stuffed doll and their own health and wellness?
But Miller was pleasantly surprised by what happened when the class began regularly using the story books, dolls, and music that his center received as part of a grant from Anthem. The tools are part of two curriculum kits from OrganWise Guys, a health and nutrition program with research-proven impact on children’s waist circumferences, BMIs, blood pressure, and test scores.
A wellness program that strives to keep employees healthy is a strategic investment. To curb rising healthcare costs, many employers are advancing workplace health programs to:
- make improvements in the worksite environment,
- help employees adopt healthier lifestyles and,
- ultimately, lower the incidence of costly chronic diseases.
One of the first important steps in creating your employee wellness program is assessment of the work environment. What are your employee needs and preferences? What are your business goals and objectives? Where do nutrition and physical activity fit into the picture? What kind of timeline might be reasonable to accomplish this work?
There are a variety of assessment tools you can use. Here are four for you to consider:
What exactly do we mean when we talk about physical activity at daycare and preschool? How do you know if you provide enough of the "right" kind of opportunities to help kids get moving? What can you do to encourage more active play?
In short, aim for a wide variety of activities that get all kids moving at the same time. Sprinkle activities throughout the day in age-appropriate lengths of time.
There is some variation in recommendations for children five years and under. We often refer to the best practice of 120 minutes per day, recommended by the National Assocation for Sport and Physical Education, knowing that this is more than the "1 hour" recommended for ages 6 to adult.