September is here, which means children are heading back to school and many families are looking at jam-packed schedules in the months ahead. With so much going on in their lives, it can be hard for even highly motivated families to make healthy choices, especially given concerns that a healthy lifestyle could be costly or involve changes to the day-to-day routine.
For this reason, the American Heart Association (AHA) is launching the “Life is Why Family Health Challenge” in September. Designed to encourage parents and children to work together to make heart-healthy choices that are also simple, affordable, and fun, the Family Health Challenge provides families with a different challenge to tackle each week of the month.
Week One: Fill up on fruits and vegetables
Adding more fresh fruits and vegetables to your family’s diet is a great first step in cultivating healthy habits. Try to arrange to have every family member add their favorite fruit or vegetable to the shopping cart. If you want to be more adventurous, ask everyone choose an item to try that they’ve never had before.
Week Two: Cut down on sugary drinks
People often choose sugary beverages thinking that they will provide an energy boost. In fact, they have the opposite effect. Water or milk are the healthiest choices for staying hydrated. To jazz things up a bit, try adding fresh fruit slices to a pitcher of water for extra flavor.
Week Three: Stay away from salt
The daily salt intake of most people is more than double the amount recommended by the AHA. Rather than reaching for a salt shaker to add flavor, try using fresh herbs and spices to give your meals more zest.
Week Four: Get moving
It’s surprisingly easy to incorporate simple and fun physical activities into your family’s daily routine. Go for an “I spy” walk around your neighborhood after dinner, or plan a family game of tag. Every little bit of physical activity helps.
For more information on the Family Health Challenge, as well as free tools and resources to complete it, visit the American Heart Association’s website or Facebook page.