February 2017

This month our focus will be on bone health. Parents don't often worry about their children's bone health at this age. However, building healthy bones by adopting healthy nutritional and lifestyle habits in childhood is important to help prevent osteoporosis and fractures later in life. Generally, the amount of bone mass peaks in people's late twenties. At this point, bones have reached their maximum strength and density. That makes childhood the best time for your kids to invest in their bone health. Peak bone mass is influenced by a variety of factors; some you can't change such as gender, and some you can, such as nutrition and physical activity.

Calcium is an essential nutrient for bone health. A well-balanced diet includes adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, zinc and vitamin D. The same healthy habits that keep your kids going and growing will also benefit their bones. Research has shown that most kids so not get enough calcium in their diets to help ensure optimal peak bones mass. Children ages 4 to 8 years need 1,000 milligrams of calcium daily, and children ages 9 to 18 years of age need 1,300 milligrams. Calcium is found in many foods, but the most common source is milk and other dairy products. One 8-oz glass of milk provides 300 milligrams of calcium; almost one third of your child's daily requirement! In addition, milk supplies other minerals and vitamins needed by the body. Fortified, ready to eat cereal, fortified orange juice, and dark green leafy vegetables are other good sources of calcium.

The Nutrition facts label on foods shows you how much one serving of that food contributes to the total amount of calcium and other nutrients you need every day. Most labels are based on the daily recommendation of 1,000 milligrams. Since children and teens require more calcium, their target is higher. Generally, a food listed as 20% DV (daily value) or more for calcium is a high-calcium food.

Physical activity is also important for building healthy bones, and provides benefits that are most pronounced in the areas of the skeleton that bear the most weight, such as hips. Any kind of physical exercise is great for your kids, but the best ones are activities like walking, running, dancing, tennis, basketball, gymnastics, soccer and weight lifting. Children who play outside will have the increased benefits of a higher vitamin D level, which aids in the absorption of calcium. Help your kids find a variety of physical activities and sports they enjoy participating in. The most important thing is for kids to spend less time sitting and more time on their feet and moving. Following these simple guidelines will help your children build bone health for life!

January 2017

Happy New Year to all of our Reed families! This month's focus will be on cardiovascular health. Even though this age group of children is relatively young, its still not too early to pay attention to their cardiovascular health. Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in North America. Experts agree that while CVD is rare among children and adolescents, risk factors and risk behaviors that accelerate the disease begin in childhood. Teaching children healthy lifestyle habits now will promote improved cardiovascular health in their adult lives.

Experts believe there are several factors that account for the recent decline in children's physical activity levels. Children tend to walk or bicycle less and rely more on cars for transportation. Children also tend to rely on sedentary entertainment such as television, video games, and computers more than in past generations. Some participation in organized sports after school has declined in recent years.

Parents can encourage physical activity in their children. A physically active lifestyle promotes weight control, lower blood pressure, an improved sense of well-being and a tendency to continue increased physical activity in adulthood. Children should engage in physical activity at least 4-5 times a week for at least 60 minutes a day. These activities can include recreational activities as well as organized or competitive sports. Try to emphasize the 'play' component of activity, instead of 'exercise'. Encourage participation and good sportsmanship over competition in sporting events. Try to set time limits for 'screen time'. Make household chores into a game to entice children to participate. Plan activities as a family. Engaging in

Besides increasing physical activity, parents can encourage healthy eating habits in children. Poor diet is also linked to heart disease. A diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables ensures children are getting the fiber and vitamins they need to promote heart health. Omega 3 fatty acids found in salmon and tuna as well as flaxseeds and walnuts reduce the risk of heart disease and lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Try to limit the amount of sodium you and your child consume. You can add flavor to food by using herbs and spices instead. Studies have shown that an estimated 90% of sodium in the American diet comes from processed foods. Sample a variety of fresh foods to add some items to your families' favorites.

Lastly, make sure your child is getting plenty of rest. Experts estimate that anywhere from 25-30 % of children are sleep-deprived. This not only causes fatigue, but can also increase the risk of high blood pressure and obesity. Children's needs for sleep vary depending on their age. School-aged children between the ages of 6 and 13 need to get nine to eleven hours of sleep per night. Teenagers should get 9-10 hours per night. Keeping children on the same schedule, even on weekends and holidays, makes it easier for them to get the recommended amounts of sleep.

Check back in February when we talk about bone health!

December 2016 Wellness Tips

This month we are going to focus on healthy eating. Many people make New Year resolutions to eat better or lose weight, so we are going to try to get a jump on it. The website www.ChooseMyPlate.gov has an abundance of information to help adults and kids alike make healthy eating choices.  There are categories for men, women, children and families. It also contains healthy recipes and exercise tips.

We all know that children eat smaller portions than adults. However, you may not know just how much your child should be eating. The US Department of Agriculture provides a handy chart for children ages 6-8 that bases caloric intake on your child’s typical activity level.  For example, if your child usually participates in some form of physical activity for 30-60 minutes daily, he or she should consume approximately 1400 calories a day.  Now counting calories is not a fun activity for adults, let alone counting calories for your child also! The new MyPlate format is easy to use. You can visually divide your child’s plate into 4 sections and fill the two larger portions with grains and vegetables and the two smaller portions with fruits and protein. The icon also includes a smaller blue area to the side to remind you to add dairy to your child’s diet. MyPlate encourages people to eat whole fruits, a variety of different colored vegetables, whole grains such as brown rice, and a variety of lean protein. The website also has a section with recipes submitted by children! These ‘kid approved’ recipes are sure to be a hit with your family. The goal is to of the plate as an entire day’s worth of eating. So throughout the day, try to make half of what your kids eat vegetables and fruits, and the other half grains and protein.

Adults can determine their optimal caloric intake with the Healthy Weight tools on the adult page. There you can calculate your current BMI based on height and weight, as well as determine the amount of calories you should consume based on your activity level. There are some great visual handouts to print to help remind you to eat a variety of healthy foods and incorporate physical activity into your day. The site contains links to the Health.gov website and the National Institutes of Health, so you can learn more about ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Adults can use the MyPlate icon in the same way the children do. The same guidelines apply; most of your meal should come from fruits and vegetables, complimented by whole grains and lean sources of protein. Don’t forget the dairy either! Adult bones reach their peak strength and density around the age of 30. Regular consumption of calcium is essential to maintain bone health.  Weight-bearing exercises such as walking, dancing and weight training can help prevent bone loss, too.

MyPlate is designed to be an easy-to-use guideline. It doesn’t mean you have to cut out all your ‘unhealthy’ favorites. Just remember that food, just like other indulgences, is best in moderation. Keep portion control in mind when consuming those Holiday goodies. Try having a salad as an appetizer and splitting a high calorie meal with a friend. This way you can enjoy your favorite foods without going overboard. Or you can set aside one day a week as your ‘cheat day’ when you don’t have to adhere to your diet as strictly. Giving yourself permission to occasionally indulge may help curb those cravings.

Happy Holidays!

11/2016 Wellness Tips

This month, we will focus on fitness/exercise tips. The Let’s Move! Website advocates activity time for kids (ages 6-17) as 60 minutes a day and at least 5 days a week. You can count daily activity steps using a pedometer as an alternative (girls’goal: 11,000 steps and boys’ goal: 13,000 steps). Adults should aim for 30 minutes a day for at least 5 days a week. Your daily activity steps using a pedometer should be 8,500.
 
Adults can incorporate more activity into the day by taking the stairs whenever possible over an elevator or escalator. Be sure to walk the stairs one at a time; overall you’ll burn more calories than taking them two at a time. Many people already park father away from the store when grocery shopping to add steps; now try browsing the perimeter of the store a few times before going down the aisles you need. Another great idea is to walk around every time your phone rings during the day. Be sure to hydrate often. Many people thing they are hungry when they are actually thirsty. Try drinking a glass of water first before reaching for a snack.
 
Kids should find an activity they enjoy. Not every kid is cut out for organized sports. Try things like rock climbing, ice skating, swimming or martial arts. While doing homework, try taking a fitness break between assignments. Even five minutes of exercise will invigorate you so that you can tackle the next assignment. 
 
There is a plethora of activities that families can do together. Children often enjoy exercise more when they participate in a family activity. Try organizing a family game night with Xbox Fitness or Wii Fit Plus. Cleaning can be fun if you make a contest of it. Rake a big pie of leaves and jump in it before disposing of them. Try walking the dog after dinner or playing a game of hopscotch. A friendly round of bowling or miniature golf is a fun way to get some exercise. Families can track their activities on a calendar and the person who exercised the most gets to pick the weekend activity.
 
For those families that are just starting out being active, try a mini fitness break during the commercial break in your favorite show. See who can do the most push ups or hold plank position the longest. Work up to longer activities. If you aim to be active most days of the week, you’ll strengthen bones and muscles, increase strength and endurance, cut your risk of some diseases and improve your mental health and mood. 
 
Here’s to a new and active you!

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