In encouraging youngsters to develop a healthy lifestyle, the best advice is to practice what you preach. Clich, yes, but true. Living a healthy lifestyle is achieved with a multitude of good habits. If you're following these and including your children, they are far more likely to adopt a healthy lifestyle.
For you, exercise might be a little more intense than for your child. Still, the mere fact that they observe you exercising or even leaving for the gym will have a secondary effect on how they perceive exercise. Ultimately, I'd love for my children to view daily exercise as much of a routine as brushing their teeth. In addition, taking time to exercise with your children is important. Depending on their age, most of this will be under the guise of fun. Some ideas are going for an adventure walk, playing tag or on rainy days, ramping up a game of Simon Says. I've even made obstacle courses in my house.
Teaching your kids about proper nutrition is two-fold. First, they need to understand what proper nutrition is and then they need to know how to get it. This seems pretty simple, but with all the misleading information out there, adults find themselves confused. Follow the food guide pyramid and then include your kids in grocery shopping and meal planning. Let them choose what vegetable to have with the chicken or vice versa. A produce section can be a classroom. A big part of proper nutrition is consuming a wide variety of food items. If you give a child a little ownership in picking out something new to try, they are far more likely to follow through with trying it.
A healthy lifestyle isn't all about the body. The body and mind have to work together. In our busy world, we seldom take enough time to stop and enjoy just being. For us, things like meditation come to mind which is entirely plausible for children to learn; however, even taking a half hour to sit quietly with our child and blow bubbles outside or color with side-walk chalk helps our children to develop relaxation techniques.
Using some of these suggestions or all will start your child on the right path to developing a healthy lifestyle.

by Mary Franz

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