No one can predict when a health crisis will arise, but there are steps every family can take in any environment to ensure they remain healthy enough to ward off illness.
From the Center for Disease Control (CDC), health experts, and university researchers, here are seven proven tips for raising healthy families:
Make nutrition a family affair. A well-balanced diet combined with regular exercise is the basis for good health. Even young children can be encouraged to ‘eat the rainbow’ of fruits and veggies along with whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats and fat-free sources of calcium. Involve everyone in learning about nutrition, planning and preparing healthy meals – and commit to drinking lots of water and steering clear of sugary drinks.
Get enough exercise. Kids who spend a little time outdoors each day typically get enough exercise, but adults should make time for at least 30 minutes of physical activity daily. Whether it’s walking, bicycling, dancing, swimming, or participating in sports – even gardening counts! – a little daily exercise can pay big health dividends.
Help avoid injury. Wear seatbelts and bike helmets, use smoke and carbon monoxide detectors at home, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen daily, and be street smart when walking alone.
Create no-phone zones and times. Designate times during the day – like at the dinner table or during homework time – when no technology is allowed. A 10-minute break from devices just before bedtime can help ease the way toward sleep.
Get enough sleep. Adequate sleep is one of the best promoters of physical and mental health. It reduces inflammation and helps reduce the risk of infectious diseases. Aim for a minimum of eight to nine hours for children, and seven to eight hours for adults.
Plan some family time. Family vacations can be fun, but just spending a few hours of regular time together is a great way to increase communication. Whether it’s over a game board, at the zoo, or volunteering together at the local food bank, meaningful family time can contribute to overall health.
Avoid smoking and keep alcohol consumption to a minimum. Smoking harms every major organ in the body, and second-hand smoke can severely impact children. If you drink, keep your intake to within accepted guidelines – up to one glass per day for women and two per day for women, according to the CDC.