Finishing school, starting camp, and looking forward to family vacations all make summer exciting for children. However, because of unemployment or concerns about the economy, many families have postponed or canceled summer plans, disappointing children who were looking forward to the yearly family trip or other summertime activities. Yet, cutting back on family budgets does not have to mean cutting back on fun, nor do fun family activities have to break the bank. Summer vacation is an ideal opportunity for families to share in healthy activities, increase physical activity and make a greater effort to eat right.
“Summer is a great time for a mid-year resolution,” says psychologist Katherine Nordal, PhD, the executive director for professional practice at the American Psychological Association. “Making physically and emotionally healthy decisions for your children and family is a positive way to start the summer and prepare for the coming school year.”
Raising a child with healthy eating and activity habits is now more important than ever. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 17 percent of children are classified as overweight or obese in the United States. Changing behaviors around food and activity is a sometimes difficult, but doable process for parents. Making a commitment to having a healthy family will help children avoid the emotional pain and physical limitations that can come with being overweight.
Activities, such as playing Frisbee as a family or making healthy meals that you and your child cook together, are examples of some ways to put a fun spin on a choosing a healthier lifestyle.
“Children need a commitment from parents and caregivers to help them give up unhealthy behaviors and make more active and healthy choices.” says Nordal. ”And taking time to enjoy activities as a family is important to the entire family’s emotional health. Exercising together by taking walks or riding bikes around the neighborhood or going to the community pool as a family are all healthy ways to reduce stress and anxiety and build stronger family relationships.”
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011). “Data and Statistics”. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Fox, K.R. (1999). “The influence of physical activity on mental well-being.” Public Health Nutrition, Vol. 2, pp. 411-418.