- Hit the farmers’ market. Many kids love food but they hate the grocery store. I love fresh, local ingredients but I hate having to look for a needle in a haystack on crowded shelves. A family visit to the local farmers’ market is a win for everyone. Look for berries, melons, corn and greens to jumpstart your summer diet. Don’t forget to try the free samples – you may find that your pickiest eater adores the only fruit you never considered buying.
- Sit down to a family dinner. Summer is a break from many of the sports and activities that eat into dinner time during the school year. Healthy meals don’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. Often the single biggest roadblock is having a plan and the right ingredients on hand, so do a little pre-game preparation and stock up on what you need.
- Get moving. Nine out of 10 teens don’t get the recommended 60 minutes of daily exercise needed to maintain good health. Adults are just as guilty – only eight out of 10 get the recommended 30 minutes of exercise daily to stave off obesity, high blood pressure and other major health problems. Take a family walk after dinner, shoot hoops in the backyard, plan a morning bike ride, whack around the tennis ball or hit the trails for a hike. There are plenty of summer friendly activities that can trick even the biggest couch potato into breaking a sweat.
- Tune-up your daily habits. The best way to ruin outdoor fun is brave the elements unprepared. Before your family steps outside this summer, lather on broad spectrum, water resistant SPF 30 or greater and pack extra to reapply. Use insect repellant when playing outdoors to avoid pesky critters and itchy bites, and grab a water bottle for everyone before your head out to ensure your brood stays hydrated. It’s never too early to instill healthy outdoor habits – just make sure you follow your own rules.
- Unplug. If you think your teen gets too much screen time, look in the mirror. Teens and adults are equal offenders when it comes to digital abuse, racking up an astounding nine hours of screen time each day. Ironically, roughly 80 percent of parents feel they are good media and technology role models. If your family is spending too much time basking in the blue light, press pause and head outside for some fresh air. Plan a barbecue, hit the pool or meet up with friends for an al fresco dinner. There’s plenty to do in summer to recharge your family’s health that doesn’t require a power cord.
- Get away. Most of us know vacations decrease stress, anxiety and depression, which effectively reduces the risk of heart disease. Vacations don’t have to be five-star to be effective. Camping, trips to visit old friends and group vacations that chip away at a rental price tag are all great family get-away options. More than 80 percent of families will hit the road this summer, so regardless of your destination, focus on putting those nagging responsibilities in the rearview mirror and reenergizing together as a family.
Summer is the season to relax, but don’t confuse chill time with laziness. Take advantage of the downtime to fine-tune health habits that have been slipping all year. Minor changes now may feel insignificant but can alter the course of your family’s health for years to come. There is never a bad time to adopt healthier living habits. Summer just happens to be one of the best times, so use your summer fever for good while the sun is out and the grill is still hot.
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