Healthy family life

4 simple ways to help your family live healthier

Forming healthy habits is crucial to living a healthy lifestyle. And, it can be easier to form those good habits when you have someone (or a whole family) to do them with. When it comes to fun, good-for-you activities, the more, the merrier. Whether it’s an at-home activity or group outing, there are so many ways to make your family a healthy family. Here are 4 ways to help your family get started. 

1. Be a family that cooks together

The kitchen is such a great way to bond with loved ones, share family traditions, talk about the importance of healthy eating and get creative in trying new things. Making your kitchen a space where everyone has a job in preparing a meal can show the whole family that cooking can be fun. Here are three ideas for healthy dinners for the family that everyone will love:

  • Taco night: Everyone grab your favorite shell (or lettuce wrap), cook up some healthy protein and build your own taco with lots of fresh veggies and beans, avocado slices and a spoonful of salsa.
  • Homemade pizzas: Pick your favorite crust (wheat, cauliflower, chickpea), chop up some healthy toppings and pile your pie with a variety of proteins, veggies, and anything else your little heart desires.
  • A twist on traditional pasta: There are lots of fun alternatives to the traditional flour pasta. Put on your aprons, crank the tunes and make some nutritious noodles from scratch.

2. Put a hold on screen time

Did you know kids ages 8 to 12 in the U.S. spend an average of 4 to 6 hours each day in front a screen?1 While it may be easy to rely on smart devices for quick entertainment, it may actually hurt your family’s health. All that time in front of a screen may have negative side effects, like trouble sleeping, less time outside, poor self-esteem and less quality time with family and friends. Next time you or a family member reaches for that phone, try one of these family activities instead:

  • Break out a board game
  • Take a walk around the block
  • Craft, paint, draw or make a fort
  • Cook a meal or make a snack
  • Grab a puzzle
  • Head to the park, ice rink, softball field or basketball court for some friendly competition

If you do choose to spend a little family screen time together, make it an engaging activity. Prep some healthy snacks as a family for a movie night (maybe there's an educational film about history or nature?) and plan ahead so it ends in time for everyone to get a good night’s rest. Try to put all your screens away at least an hour before you hit the hay.2

3. Exercise as a family

Family workouts are a perfect way to get moving, feel those endorphins and lead by example to help your kids form healthy exercise habits. Regular exercise helps to keep your heart healthy, manage your weight and de-stress your mind. (Plus, it helps younger kids burn off some of that youthful energy.) It’s important to make moving fun and easy for everyone. Here are ideas to get the whole family up and moving:

  • Take karate, Zumba or boxing classes together
  • Rollerblade, bike or walk around town
  • Take advantage of your local community center’s open gym, indoor pool or skate park
  • Turn house chores into a dance party by putting on some music and taking dance breaks
  • Play outdoor games, like capture the flag, hopscotch or flashlight tag

Have a house with older kids? Start a workout routine by going to your local fitness studios, taking morning runs, investing in at-home exercise equipment or signing up for virtual fitness classes. Moving your body is great, but building a bond with loved ones by spending healthy time together is priceless.

4. Stay on track with wellness and preventive doctor visits

Part of forming positive health habits includes regular visits to your doctor. By prioritizing yearly physicals, you’ll help your family get in the routine of taking a preventive approach to their health as they get older. Showing your family how easy (and important) regular checkups are will encourage that same behavior when it’s their turn to take charge of their health journey. Plus, positive experiences with doctors starting at a young age can make your kids comfortable in front of medical professionals and cultivate an overall positive experience with their health care.

Footnotes

  1. Screen Time and Children aacap.org, 2020. 
  2. Put the Phone Away! 3 Reasons Why Looking at It Before Bed Is a Bad Habit health.clevelandclinic.org, 2019.