Building Healthy Families: Let's Get Physical!

When we think about a healthy person or family, we might use normal and healthy interchangeably when they are not necessarily the same thing.  A legacy of abuse might be normal, but it isn't healthy.  Your family might practice a lot of really healthy choices, but that doesn't mean your family is normal either.  Whether you have little ones at home, are running big kids to practice right and left or stepping into the grandparent stage of life, there are important ways you can build up your family from week to week.



Today in the Building Healthy Families series, we're talking about physical ways we can build up our families. Our family's health and physical circumstances can quickly become a blessing or a burden.  It is really easy to get so consumed with busy that we often don't realize how much our family is missing out on some important building blocks.  The physical, emotional and spiritual man are most certainly intertwined, but the following suggestions highlight ways our physical life can be enhanced.

Work Together.  I know, I know.  It very well may be quicker and easier to just do it yourself, but if they never do it, they'll never learn.  When we join together to tackle and finish a job of some kind, everyone benefits.  Hard work is good for the soul.  Working together lifts spirits and lightens a load. As a mom of kids who are more able to help with chores, insisting they share responsibilities around the house helps me with my sanity!! Above all else, in working together you will give each other precious time to engage life together.

Cook at Home.   This is one of the most important things you can do in your family! First, what we feed our family matters, now more than ever.  Most of us aren't eating regularly from backyard garden grown veggies and the number of chemicals we are consume (through air and processed foods) is much higher than we would like to believe.  Cooking at home, even if it wouldn't be considered the 'healthiest', is a big level up from eating at most restaurants because you will use less sugar, chemicals and preservatives.  Beyond health benefits, cooking provides tons of learning opportunities.  Math, science, reading and just life skills are all subjects taught in the kitchen. Lastly, cooking home means eating together which means spending real time together. Spending dinner together more often than not increases academic performance, self-esteem, resilience and lower substance abuse, teen pregnancy, depression, obesity and eating disorders.

Go Outside.  With technology being what it is, we all spend a LOT of time indoors not moving.  From microbes in the soil that help fight depression to vitamin D from the sun to keep your immune system up and running, we physically NEED to go outside as much as possible.  Children need to explore the natural world all the more!  The connection to our natural world is undeniable when you give it a chance.   Plant a garden, go hiking, play sports in the yard, ride bikes, visit a park, take your dog for a walk, or maybe just move your activities outside like dinner on the patio or reading a book on the porch.  Not only is going outside usually free, but your giving your kids (and yourself) a more grounding life.

Take Their Health Seriously.  One of the best ways to physically build up your family is to teach and model healthy habits. Drink plenty of water.  Make sure they get enough sleep. More than two nights of not enough rest almost guarantees one of my kids getting sick.  Exercise. Eat a colorful diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables.  Consider their diet and it's impact on their life as an adult - fertility, pregnancy, hormone issues, etc.  Whatever their physical needs or symptoms, take it seriously and always get a second or third opinion.  Invest in good quality vitamins/supplements to make sure their body is getting all it needs, especially in times of stress, poor eating and sick seasons.  If you need some guidance, I'm always happy to help.  Above all else, pay attention to them and their habits.  Together you are the best detective in determining when something is out of balance.

Be a Better Model.   It is almost just as easy for me to write these recommendations as it is for you to read them.  Living them out is a whole other animal.  With all there is to keep up with, I find myself missing the mark so much.  In all of these areas, you cannot expect much impact if you as a role model aren't really invested.  When I'm not diligent with drinking water and making that a priority, there's no reason for my kids to either.  Whatever area of life your child needs support in, it will start with you.  Do it together! That's the best way for everyone to grow.

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