Tips for Building Healthy Family Habits

By: Mollie Shauger | Monday, October 7, 2019 | Healthy Living

Two young girls help prepare a meal with their father. Credit: Y-USA

Parents and families play an important role in ensuring that children are developing healthy habits, from eating well to sleeping well. 

The YMCA offers the following tips to help families incorporate healthy eating and regular physical activity into their lives.

Eat and Drink Healthy

Make water the drink of choice and encourage everyone to fill half their plates with fruits and vegetables by offering two or three colorful options at every meal. As a family, choose a new fruit and veggie every week to taste together.  Place a full pitcher of water on the table during meals and allow children to pour their own water. Keep full water bottles available in the car and backpacks.

Play Every Day/Go Outside

Children should have at least an hour a day of unstructured play outside (when possible) and break a sweat at least three times a week by getting 20 minutes or more of vigorous physical activity. Join your children in games that get your hearts pumping and bodies moving.

Get Together

Eat as a family as frequently as possible. Involve kids in meal planning, preparation and clean up. In addition, adults should take a break from electronics and spend one-to-one time each day with their kids, enjoying one another’s company.

Reduce Recreational Screen Time

Time spent in front of a television, computer, tablet, cell phone or video games should be limited to two hours or less per day. Make a family plan to reduce screen time at home (i.e. turn off screens during meals, charge electronics/screens in the kitchen overnight, go for a walk after a meal, set a timer to remind you to power down the screen). 

Sleep Well

Kids and adults need to keep a regular sleep schedule; unwind together in the evenings by reading a book or listening to soft music to ensure the body is preparing for sleep. Kids are growing and need 10-12 hours of healthy sleep per night and seven to eight hours for adults.

For more information on how your family can live a healthy, active life, visit your local YMCA branch or metroymcas.org. Because the Y is for all, financial assistance is available to help eligible families participate in Y programs.


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