When someone asks about your family’s recreational habits, do you ever find yourself saying: “Does watching TV together count?” “It’s not so bad if they’re playing on their tablets and I’m right next to them washing the dishes, right?” “There’s just so much to do!” If these thoughts sound familiar, you’re not alone. In today’s digital age, playing outside has become a rarity and face time happens through a phone.
Unfortunately, this reality is taking its toll on our health. According to the Florida Department of Health, 65 percent of adults in the state are at an unhealthy weight. One out of three kids is considered overweight or obese. Obesity not only can cause high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes, but can cause psychological effects, including low self-esteem, negative body image and depression.
Now’s the perfect time, and you don’t have to do it alone. It’s National Family Health Month, and many community resources can help your family find respite from social, economic and educational challenges. The YMCAs of Tampa Bay have a fundamental desire to provide opportunities for every family to get healthier together, build stronger bonds, achieve greater work/life balance and become more engaged with their communities.
The Y believes healthy living starts at home and recommend taking these small steps with your family to start living healthier:
- Eat Healthy: Even the busiest families can improve their eating habits with moderation. Grab a new fruit or veggie and encourage everyone in the family to try at least a bite. Sweet treats and the occasional burger are just fine when balanced against healthier choices and combined with an active lifestyle.
- Play Every Day: Adding short periods of playful activity to your day gives you the energy you need to live a full and balanced life. It is also one of the keys to avoiding a variety of chronic conditions down the road. From walking to gardening, swimming to shooting hoops, make playful movement a part of your family’s day.
- Get Together: Spending regular quality time together as a family is one of the best ways to improve your family’s health and well-being. This can get tricky at home with digital distractions. If the TV and video games are too tempting, head to your local YMCA. Serving families has always been at the heart of the Y. There, you can come together to participate in a variety of fun activities such as pool games, arts and crafts, family fitness classes, volunteer opportunities and more! The Y is a place where parents and caregivers can find life balance. Children can reach their full potential, seniors can be active and find camaraderie, and families can connect and strengthen relationships.
- Go Outside: Recent studies point to the mental and physical benefits of being active outdoors and having regular contact with nature. Kids, in particular, develop a greater sense of independence, use more of their imagination and develop social skills from interacting with other children. To make it fun, challenge the family to play on a different playground, park, nature trail and/or bike path every week. Tampa Bay is the perfect place to play outside!
- Sleep Well: Restful sleep plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy immune system, an active metabolism, memory, learning and other vital functions. Doctors recommend 10-12 hours of sleep a day for children ages 5-12 and 7-8 hours per night for adults.
It’s important to point out being healthy means more than simply being physically active. It’s about maintaining a balanced spirit, mind and body. If your family could use some help finding that balance, reach out to available community resources, like the Y. As a leading voice on health and wellness, the Y continues to brainstorm and implement innovative classes, programs and initiatives that have been shown to work in real life.
While you’re working on bettering yourself, you can also look to the Y to be a parenting partner for afterschool care in a safe environment, for youth sports to keep your kids active, and swim lessons to teach lifelong skills. To learn more about how the YMCA can help your family get healthier together, go to www.ymcatampabay.org/find-your-y/. There you’ll find our 25 locations in five counties. You and your family can count on the Y for support, while improving your health and well-being, connecting with new friends and the community.
*This article was originally published in the October 2017 issue of Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine.