4 Easy Steps to a Healthier Family - MetroFamily Magazine
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4 Easy Steps to a Healthier Family

by Jessica Misun

Reading Time: 4 minutes 

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"Wow! I wonder how that family makes time for exercise?” 

We all have thought this to ourselves at one time or another. You know “that” family. The one that always looks healthy, happy—and they are always moving. How do they do it? One sure answer is that they are doing it together!

A family’s lifestyle plays a major role in childhood obesity. This makes it even more important that healthy living become a family affair. The OK 5210 program can help your family institute healthy behaviors by making small changes one step at a time. Four simple behaviors can elicit change in families.  

Angela Jones, director of Health and Wellness Initiatives with the YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City, tells us that obesity is one of the most pressing public health issues today and has become the most common chronic disease in childhood. The prevalence of overweight and obesity for Oklahoma children in poverty is more than one in three (36.3 percent). Although Oklahoma children are more likely than their counterparts nationwide to be physically active for at least four days per week, they also are more likely to spend two hours or more in front of a television or computer screen. They also tend to make poor nutritional decisions, including very limited fruit and vegetable consumption.

In 2009, the YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City launched www.OK5210.org through funding from the YMCA of the USA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The website provides free resources and information to Oklahomans regarding ways families can adopt a healthier lifestyle. In 2014, the YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City began partnering with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation to incorporate the OK 5210 message into their broader Wellness Initiative to provide a simple and effective model for improving health.

Don’t let your child become a statistic! 

According to the authors of the American Academy of Pediatrics statement, the average 8-year-old spends eight hours a day using various forms of media, and teenagers often surpass 11 hours of media consumption daily. More than three quarters of teenagers have cell phones, and teens ages 13 to 17 send an average of 3,364 texts per month.

Studies continue to prove that sugary beverages are linked to thousands of deaths worldwide per year (diabetes, heart disease, cancer). The consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks appears to take the lives of approximately 25,000 American adults annually, according to an assessment published in the American Heart Association’s journal, Circulation.

What are some important tips for implementing the OK 5210 healthy living behaviors?

5 fruits and vegetables: 

  • Try a bite: Offer fruits and veggies and encourage everyone to try a few bites. It can take seven to 10 tries to like a new food. 
  • Encourage kids to help you choose fruits and vegetables at the store. 
  • Try adding vegetables, such as green or red peppers, to chili, stew and spaghetti sauces. Some kids are more likely to eat these if they are chopped small.

2 hours or less of screen time:

  • Set time limits on screen time for the whole family. Then stick with the limits. 
  • Try keeping the TV, computers and videos out of the kids’ bedrooms.
  • If your family really likes video games, try those that make you move such as Dance Revolution,
  • Wii Fit, Dance Central, Your Shape and Kinect Sports.

1 hour or more of physical activity:

  • Move more! Physical activity helps decrease stress, improve sleep and increase energy. 
  • Make an “activity” jar.  Let the child(ren) randomly pick an activity slip out of the jar that the whole family can participate in together. 
  • Check out www.OK5210.org for recreational resources in Oklahoma City.

0 sugary beverages each day:

  • Be a role model – drink water throughout the day.
  • Serve water or low fat milk at meals. If healthy alternatives are available, kids will drink them.
  • Give everyone a water bottle to take to school or work and refill it often.

For a family that does little to no activity, what can they do to get started?

Focus on one behavior at a time. Do not try to institute everything at once. Choose one and stick to it. Once you have formed that healthy habit, add an additional behavior. Before you know it, you will have conquered all four.   

How can families get involved? 

Take action now by taking the OK 5210 Pledge! Pledge to make three changes: one change for myself, one change with my family and one change with my friends. Visit www.OK5210.org to get your pledge card and to take advantage of all of the valuable information available to get your family started on the right track to healthy living! Also, come together and share your stories by joining other families on Facebook and Twitter @OKC5210. 

What other resources are available? 

There is a ton of free information at your fingertips! Find family tool kits, tip sheets, school curriculum and lessons, web links and more at www.ok5210.org/Resources.

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