FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Aug. 24, 2011
(CHICAGO) — A new year often invigorates people’s desire for self-improvement. But without a solid effort to work on such a project daily, New Year’s resolutions are often broken before the holiday decorations are tucked away in the garage or attic. With childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes on the rise, Antoinette M. Cheney, DO, recommends parents shift their focus from individual improvement to lifestyle changes for the whole family so that children can see healthy habits start at home.
“It takes motivation and repetition to create a new habit,” says Dr. Cheney, a board-certified family physician in Lone Tree, Colo. “If tackled with a day-by-day approach, lifestyle changes can be achieved, especially if parents can foresee how these new habits will benefit the entire family and use that as motivation to keep working towards their goal. Children are excellent observers.”
Dr. Cheney suggests the following healthy behaviors parents can model for their children:
If parents are eating a healthy, well-balanced diet, chances are there will be more fruits and vegetables in the house, which in turn, will provide healthier options for youngsters when looking in the refrigerator for something to eat. By making healthy food the norm around the house, children may be more likely to gravitate toward them when making their own food selections outside the home.
Television, video games and computers often compete for children’s – as well as adults’ – free time. Parents can convert couch time into an “active” hobby they and their child can share together, such as cooking, shopping or playing catch in the yard. Not only does this get everyone moving but it also creates an opportunity for some quality family time.
From sleeping problems to headaches to an inability to concentrate, stress has an uncanny way of building up in a person until it inevitably reveals itself through physical or mental symptoms. It is important that at a young age, children learn how to deal with stress by taking time to relax. Parents can show children how to deal with difficult situations and explain why it is important to take time out to relax on a regular basis. Ideas for children (and adults too) include writing in a journal, talking with friends or reading a book.
Another way to bond with children while relieving stress is to get moving. By exercising regularly, parents not only improve their own health but also teach their children how important it is for them to take care of themselves. There are plenty of ways parents can include their children in an exercise routine, such as going ice skating, teaching a child to swim or hiking in the woods.
Be sure to set aside time for exercise, relaxation and those “active” hobbies. By writing these activities down in the family calendar, they become set appointments just like the dates for school plays, doctor’s appointments and ballet lessons. It is also a way parents can teach their children about time management, which in turn can help everyone deal with stress better.
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About the American Osteopathic Association
The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) proudly represents its professional family of more than 78,000 osteopathic physicians (DOs); promotes public health; encourages scientific research; serves as the primary certifying body for DOs; is the accrediting agency for osteopathic medical schools; and has federal authority to accredit hospitals and other health care facilities. More information on DOs/osteopathic medicine can be found at www.osteopathic.org.
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