This post was contributed by Samantha Thayer from USANA Health Sciences and infographic design by Mikelle Williams. For more information on how you can love life and live it, visit us on our blog, What’s Up, USANA?.
It’s always a struggle to change our habits. The majority of the time, we start habits young and they end up staying with us into our adult years. We learn these habits from observing our environment, our teachers, our friends, and our family. In today’s post, we’re going to discuss how we can encourage youth to start healthy habits and maintain them throughout the rest of their lives.
There’s a difficult road that children have to navigate to live a healthy lifestyle. There are many barriers, including socioeconomic status, education levels, and the environment of which they live and are raised. More than a third of children and adolescents in the U.S. are overweight or obese (CDC). Some contributing factors to this may be poor exercise and eating habits. Here are some more sobering facts about exercise and diet for children and adolescents, and some ways to improve them:
- Children ages 2-5 spend an average of 32 hours a week watching TV and playing video games.
- 74% of children between the ages 5 and 10 don’t get enough physical activity each day. The physical activity guidelines for school-age kids recommend that each day (from kidshealth.org):
- Get 1 hour or more of moderate and vigorous physical activity on most or all days
- Participate in several bouts of physical activity of 15 minutes or more each day
- Avoid periods of inactivity of 2 hours or more unless sleeping
Some ways we can encourage an increase in the level of physical activity our children get is making it part of their daily routine. If there’s time, try going on a family walk in the evening either before or after dinner. Encourage playing tag, riding bikes, and building snowmen in the winter. Another way to help is limiting the amount of time spent doing sedentary (non-active) activities. I know it can be difficult with so much technology in our hands nowadays. Here is a list of apps that you can get to set screen time limits on your devices. Try it out! 🙂
- For children ages 2-18, 40% of calorie intake is empty calories, such as sugars and unhealthy fats.
- Try leaving some fast snack options around the home. Pre-slice fruits and vegetables so your kids can grab and go. Celery with peanut butter, carrots with hummus, sliced apples, and raisins are all great options!
- Cereals marketed to children have 56% more sugar and half the fiber of those aimed at adults. Crazy, right?
- Always try to encourage your children to spend more of their days being active, and remind them to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Use a quality vitamin supplement for children, if needed, to fill in any nutritional gaps.
Thank you for reading. I hope that this encourages you to be mindful of the examples we are setting for our kids. It’s more difficult than ever, it seems, to define “health” and help our children make healthy habits.
Hopefully this blog post has helped provide useful information for you, and if you know another mom who would like this, please share it on Facebook or Twitter. For more information on the importance of starting healthy habits, check out our infographic below!