For many people, including teens, 16- or 18-hour days are not uncommon, and the effort to maintain good nutrition levels and sleep habits, exercise properly, and find some down time to relax—all essential ingredients in a healthy family stew—can be compromised. Statistics show that if adults are unhealthy, fatigued, consistently stressed or otherwise off-base, the effect on children can be measured in poor grades, sleeplessness, depression, and more. In short, the health of the family is intrinsically connected to its individual members, and taking responsibility for it can mean stronger, happier lives.
Also, today most medical professionals agree that physical and mental health are interrelated, so taking care of one can impact the other in achieving a balanced life. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, comprehensive, continuing family health care, including prevention and early detection, is the key to optimal family health.
The following checklist can keep you and your family on the right path when managing and maintaining diet, fitness, mind health and more:
Inside/Outside: The cliché “you are what you eat” used to apply strictly to maintaining a svelte body. Today, celery and cottage cheese withstanding, the concept expands exponentially to include eating a wide variety of lean proteins, fiber, complex carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats like those found in raw, unsalted nuts and olive oil, and hydrating with lots of water. All of these affect the way your body handles a hectic lifestyle and is the key to injury and disease prevention, whether it’s a stubborn cold or heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, weight-related bone and joint stress.
Pearls of Wisdom for Pearly Whites: Good oral hygiene—regular check-ups, cleanings, frequent brushing, use of dental floss, etc.—is imperative in establishing a good foundation for health. The removal of plaque and prevention of cavities, gingivitis, periodontal disease, and tooth decay ensures not only a healthy mouth but can impact other conditions as well. Poor oral hygiene has been linked to cardiovascular disease, premature birth, and more.
Reach, Run, Ride: The argument—valid or otherwise—that you don’t have time to exercise can be channeled into infusing any sedentary family time you may already have with activities like bike riding, brisk walking or running, ice or roller skating, swimming, hiking, dancing, bowling—anything that gets you up, out of the house, and moving.
Alcohol and Tobacco Use: This one’s a proverbial no-brainer. If you’re drinking excessively and still smoking, your life—and your family’s—is compromised in nearly every aspect. Help today comes in many forms. Start with a visit to your physician who can monitor your progress, providing options that may include special programs, and support groups.
Put Your Heads Together: Stress and depression are increasingly linked to physical manifestations including fatigue, severe body aches and pains, migraines and more. Taking a little time each day, or at least a time or two a week, to retreat, quiet the technology and chatter, close your eyes, breathe deeply, and empty your mind can dial things down, lowering blood pressure and heart rate. Though it may take discipline and practice in the beginning, families who meditate together or at least mandate quiet time report a heightened sense of connection and wellbeing, both of which impact physical health.
Do you have any fun ways that your family stays active and healthy together? Share them with us in the comments section below.