Never before have we had the opportunity to understand change as we have these last couple of weeks. So many of us just take our health for granted, yet it truly is one of our greatest treasures. As we reflect on ways to stay healthy by making wise choices in staying away from crowds, washing our hands on a frequent basis, and staying home when we are ill, we continue to offer additional ways to increase the quality of our long-term health.
How do you feel today? What are you doing to make your life the best it can be? We all know that what we eat and how much activity we do plays a large role in our overall health. The things we do as part of our daily habits reflect not only our current health, but long term health as well. Here are a few tips to get you started thinking. Read through them, pick one or two to practice on a daily basis, and then when you accomplish them into your routine, pick another one. If it doesn’t work, try something else - the challenge is don’t give up!! Think about ways to incorporate them into your family as well as your individual lifestyle. Each step brings us closer to being in better health by our activity and our food choices.
**Choose daily activity. As the weather breaks, get outside and move! The goal would be 10,000 steps on a daily basis or at least 30 minutes of brisk activity. The time increases if we are aiming to increase our health to 60 minutes, and 90 minutes if weight loss is our goal. Turn off the TV for two hours a night and find something outside to do - play ball with the kids, give gardening a try, or just take a walk around the block with a neighbor. If I have someone to partner with, I’m more likely to continue–so grab and friend or your family and go!!
**Choose healthy recipes for meals at home. Ask yourself, what can I change to make this better? Maybe it’s just adding more vegetables, or decreasing the amount of salt it calls for. Share recipes you find that are good with co-workers and friends–we are all looking for new ideas! Involve family members in meal preparation as much as possible. Not only is it building skills for life, it’s a great time for conversation as well.
**Snacks- make them count with vitamins and minerals, not just empty calories. Reach for the fruits and whole grains to enjoy the nutritive benefits along with the fiber. Read the labels and watch the portion sizes too! By setting this example early in life, the model will benefit children as well for their future. Keep snacks available by washing and preparing them for easy grab and go when we are hungry.
**When dining out, look for the selections that are lower in calories, fat, cholesterol, and sodium. Sometimes there are indicators on the menu, other times we may need to ask if there’s a nutritive chart available or even look them up on line before we go. Use family meal time to catch up on the day’s events, activities and plans for the future. Put the phones, tablets and game systems down to really talk and enjoy one another’s company.
Every journey begins with a single step, take the first one so that you will have better health and a longer life to share with family and friends. There’s no better time to start than when the sun is shining and there’s a spring in your step!
Melinda Hill is an OSU Extension Family & Consumer Sciences Educator and may be reached at 330-264-8722.
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