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Help your whole family get in shape

Posted September 18, 2013 in Advice Column, Winterset

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. Recently we learned that childhood obesity is on a slight decline in Iowa, and that is great news. But it is important that we continue to promote a healthy lifestyle and help future generations become even healthier.

If we look at this as a “teaching moment” and commit ourselves to helping our children get into better shape, the whole family will get into better shape, too. You can help your family move more each day and have fun with it. Eat right and move more; it’s that simple. Think about what your family can do to be active together. It doesn’t have to be expensive; start by taking a family walk. Check with the Parks and Recreation Department and see what’s going on this fall.

One thing you can do is join us for the sixth annual “Kickin’ Up For Health” 5K Walk/Run on Saturday, Sept. 21. We’ll start at the hospital at 8 a.m. Kids Dash and a bounce house, too.

Make time and make it a priority
• Plan ahead. Make physical activity a regular part of your family’s schedule. Write it on a family activity calendar.
• Pick activities requiring no new skills, such as walking or climbing stairs.
• Identify free times. Keep track of your daily activities for one week. Pick two 30-minute time slots you could use for family activity time.
• Add physical activity to your daily routine. For example, walk or ride your bike to work, school, or a friend’s house, have a family dog walk, exercise while you watch TV or park farther away from your destination.
• Try to walk, jog or swim during your lunch hour or take fitness breaks instead of coffee breaks. Try doing something active after dinner with your family.
• Plan activities for weekends.

Make friends
• Ask friends and family to not only support, but also join you in your efforts.
• Set up a party or other social event with activities that get people moving, like dancing or having a jump rope contest.
• Exercise with friends.
• Play with your kids or ask them to join you for an exercise video or fitness game.
• Develop new friendships with physically active people. Join a group, such as one of the fitness centers or the bike club. Start a walking or hiking club.
• One should never start an exercise program without checking with his or her health care provider. Visit the Health Trust Physicians Clinic in Winterset, or the Earlham Clinic in Earlham and get the “a-ok” to get you and your family into shape.

We thank the National Center for Disease Control for some of these tips.

Information provided by Chris Nolte, director, Public Relations and Development, Madison County Health Care Systems, 300 West Hutchings, Winterset, 515-462-9749.

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