Lots of us express a desire to "be healthier," and to "raise healthy children," but what does that mean, exactly? Health and wellness tips may be widely available, but sometimes they feel contradictory and confusing. How do you know which sources to trust?
Our friends at Let's Go! created a simple slogan to help you remember four ways to be healthy every day: 5-2-1-0. These research-proven recommendations come from experts at the American Academy of Pediatrics, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Like adults, kids need to stay active throughout the day. Active kids feel less stressed, sleep better at night, gain more focus, are more ready to learn, and develop healthy bones, muscles, and joints.
One way to make sure that children in your care are getting enough movement throughout the day is to incorporate movement into learning. Below is a list of suggested resources. Check them out and get moving!
School is out (or almost out), and daylight is plentiful, so make a commitment to help kids be active this summer—in your home, your child care center, camp, or wherever you are!
Everyone—children and adults alike—needs at least one hour of physical activity every day. But physical activity doesn't have to mean exercise. Active play is physical activity, too, so have fun with these physical activity ideas for kids and families:
- Go on a group bike ride.
- Play games like Freeze Tag and Red Light/Green Light.
- Have a backyard/courtyard dance party—invite the neighbors, take turns playing DJ.
You don't need a gym membership or fancy equipment to get an hour of physical activity each day. You can exercise without equipment, with limited time and little space using these five activities. Try them when you need a burst of energy at work, school, home—or anywhere!
Start with your knees on the ground, feet lifted and your hands directly underneath your shoulders. Put your body into a kneeling plank position. You can also do these on the wall to start or on your toes as you gain more strength.
Start by lying face down. Place your elbows and forearms underneath your chest and prop yourself onto your toes and forearms. Maintain a flat back and do not allow your hips to sag toward the ground. These can also be done in a kneeling position. Start by holding this position for 10 seconds and work your way up to a longer time.
You don't need a big budget to make your worksite a healthy place for staff and visitors. Here are some budget-friendly—and effective—employee wellness program ideas.
Start a walking group
Walking has many benefits. It reduces risks for coronary heart disease and stroke; improves blood pressure, blood sugar levels and blood lipid profiles; enhances mental health; and reduces risks of osteoporosis, breast and colon cancers, and type 2 diabetes.
Walking during the work day may have more immediate benefits. Physical activity has been linked to improved concentration, better memory recall, faster learning, enhanced creativity and reduced stress—all of which lead to better job performance. So why not round up a group of co-workers and walk together?
Recess is a great way to get kids active during the school day, and it has many benefits. School recess has been proven to:
- Increase the amount of physical activity students get each day
- Improve memory, attention, and concentration
- Help students stay on-task in the classroom
- Reduce disruptive behavior in the classroom
- Improve social and emotional development (e.g., learning how to share and negotiate)
But simply putting recess on the schedule doesn't guarantee that students are active during this time each day. School administrators, teachers, support staff, parent volunteers, and others can take simple steps to encourage physical activity during recess:
The causes of the obesity epidemic are numerous and complex, but no doubt our increasingly sedentary lifestyle is a key contributor.
Experts recommend a minimum of one hour of physical activity per day—for children and adults alike—but it doesn't have to happen all at once. In fact, peppering the day with short bursts of low-intensity physical activity has substantial health benefits that rival longer single sessions of vigorous activity.
Why do we need physical activity breaks?
Frequent activity breaks help the heart work more efficiently. They also help trim waistlines, improve blood pressure and lower triglycerides and other blood fat levels. Other facts:
Valentine's Day doesn't have to be all about candy and sweets. If you're planning to celebrate Valentine's Day in your home, classroom, or child care, take advantage of the opportunity to promote a healthy lifestyle. Here are some ideas:
Healthy Snacks and Treats to Love
Fruit & Vegetable Bouquet
Use heart and flower-shaped cookie cutters to cut fresh fruits and vegetables such as melon and bell peppers. Place them on green skewers and arrange them into a bouquet. Tie together with red or pink ribbon. Students may enjoy with low-fat yogurt, hummus, salsa, or low-fat ranch dressing.
Create healthy sandwiches using whole grain bread and strawberry fruit spread. Use heart-shaped cookie cutters to cut out mini heart sandwiches.
Valentine's Day Taste Test
Host a taste test at your party using red fruits and vegetables. Pomegranate, cranberries, apples, blood oranges, raspberries, red peppers and cherry tomatoes are great options. Have students vote on their favorite red fruit and vegetable.
2016 Year in Review - part one in a series of four
The new year brings the opportunity to pause and reflect on 2016 and our progress in reducing the prevalence of childhood obesity. In this series of four Year in Review stories, we summarize some of our most significant accomplishments to date.
Jump IN’s mission is to promote policies and practices that create healthy environments where families and children have real opportunities to make healthy choices and engage in healthy behaviors.Much of Jump IN’s work is grounded in this fact:
Changing the environment is the best way to change behaviors.
Research shows that if healthy nutrition and physical activity policies can be implemented in the places where children and families spend most of their time, their health will likely improve. Here’s how we helped schools, child care centers, worksites, and family homes embed healthy nutrition and physical activity policies and practices in 2016:
Young children need lots of time to move their bodies—at home, at daycare, and in preschool. Movement helps children develop motor skills, which are important to all other areas of development—language, cognition, social, emotional, and adaptive skills. Children need encouragement, instruction, and opportunity to develop their motor skills. Help support this by practicing these tips.
Teach your kids how to move
Movement skills don't always develop naturally. Try purposefully including movements such as the ones below in your play time with children:
- Up to 1 year old: stretching, patting, grasping, releasing, creeping, crawling
- 1 to 2 years old: clapping, grabbing, squeezing, pressing, stamping, pushing, pulling, jumping
- 2 to 3 years old: twisting, balancing, waddling, climbing, marching, rolling, sliding, turning
- 3 to 4 years old: hopping, tossing, galloping, jumping, slithering, darting, bouncing, trudging
- 4 to 5 years old: tumbling, running, galloping, prancing, skipping, throwing, catching, tip-toeing, bending, stretching, collapsing, sneaking, trotting, kicking, batting