By Donna Loden
Mayor Jack Reed Jr. has done a terrific job of promoting healthier lifestyles through several fun initiatives enacted through the Healthy Tupelo Task Force.
Being active and eating a healthy diet are important keys to both fun and wellness. Physical activity can make you healthier by relieving stress, improving your sleep, making your bones and muscles stronger, making you feel more energetic, building overall strength and endurance, helping you feel good about yourself, and providing a way to connect with family and friends. Whether it’s taking a family walk on a Saturday morning or washing your car together, it’s important, especially during the summer months, to find activities to get your family up and moving.
Here are just a few fun ideas for moving outdoors:
• Create sidewalk art. Use colored chalk or “paint” with water and brushes.
• Chase shadows. Kids can do this in the summer sun or by the light of a full moon.
• Visit the Farmers’ Market. Walk and talk about foods. Buy something healthy to prepare and eat at home.
• Plan a Wash Day. Anything goes. wagons, tricycles, outdoor toys, even the family dog.
• Work in a garden.
• Make a “Move! Jar.” Write down ideas for ways to move that take advantage of items in and around your home like “go outside, blow bubbles and chase them” or “dance to two songs with different beats.” Pull ideas from the jar at least once a week; when kids think something is fun, they are more likely to be active.
• Kids need to eat many different colors of fruits and veggies every day to grow and stay well.
What about some fun food ideas to move in the kitchen?
• Shop as a family really eyeing the produce section at the grocery. Decide together whether you’d like to make a fruit or a vegetable salad. Choose at least three different fruits or vegetables to go in the salad. Make up a crazy name for it like Strawnanagrape Delight or Broccocarromato Salad.
• The texture of some fruits and vegetables often causes children not to want to taste them. Why not work to overcome this by playing with your food a little bit? Have a food scavenger hunt and find foods that fit the following categories: a slimy food; a soft food; a crunchy food; a chewy food; a sticky food; a grainy food, and a mushy food. Have a taste-testing party and see which textures/tastes your children enjoy the most.
• Kids love technology of all kinds. Use your Smartphone to video a Kid Chef segment where your child is hosting a “TV segment” explaining how to concoct an entrée made up of three ingredients.
• Remember the 5-2-1 rule: 5 servings of fruits and veggies daily, 2 hours or less of screen time, and 1 hour or more of physical activity. With just a little thought, your summer can be a rewarding and healthy moving experience.
Donna Loden is special projects and community relations coordinator for HealthWorks!, an interactive children’s health education center in Tupelo.