Summer Fun with the Family!

Family On Bicycle Ride In Countryside Smiling At CameraAs the summer unfolds and the weather warms I am reminded that our physical health can be a concern! We need to remember to drink plenty of fluids when hot humid days arrive! We need to stop and take a break when we feel exhausted!

As a family, you may have activity plans that include running, hiking, canoeing and lots of physical activity. Keeping kids moving is pretty important these days because most of us, if we were to admit, just don’t get enough physical activity! According to the Center for Disease Control, “ Regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. It can help:
• Control your weight
• Reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease
• Reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes
• Reduce your risk of some cancers
• Strengthen your bones and muscles
• Improve your mental health and mood
• Improve your ability to do daily activities
• Increase your chances of living longer

As a parent you may wonder how you can influence your child’s participation in activities that will increase their physical mobility. The Center for Disease Control recommends the following:

• Set a positive example by leading an active lifestyle yourself.
• Make physical activity part of your family’s daily routine by taking family walks or playing active games together.
• Give your children equipment that encourages physical activity.
• Take young people to places where they can be active, such as public parks, community baseball fields or basketball courts.
• Be positive about the physical activities in which your child participates and encourage them to be interested in new activities.
• Make physical activity fun. Fun activities can be anything your child enjoys, either structured or non-structured. Activities can range from team sports or individual sports to recreational activities such as walking, running, skating, bicycling, swimming, playground activities or free-time play.
• Instead of watching television after dinner, encourage your child to find fun activities to do on their own or with friends and family, such as walking, playing chase or riding bikes.

Parents may be interested to know that as youth continue to stay active they reduce the incidence of childhood obesity and increase their health and stamina! Check out the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Spend Smart Eat Smart website for delicious, healthy recipes and videos that will give you many ideas that your family will enjoy! Stay active and enjoy the summer!

Barb Dunn Swanson

Barb Dunn Swanson

With two earned degrees from Iowa State University, Barb is a Human Sciences Specialist utilizing her experience working alongside communities to develop strong youth and families! With humor and compassion, she enjoys teaching, listening and learning to learn!

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Outdoor Winter Walking

Dad walking the dog whild child walks behind.

I’m not sure where you live, but in Iowa, it’s January and we are all preparing for a great snow fall! Children wait for the snow so that they can get outside and sled. Parents too, wait for the snow so that those same children will go outside. Being out of doors in the winter can be both educational and recreational. Our Science of Parenting colleague and Human Sciences Creative Project Specialist Kristin Taylor provides some tips for getting out and about during the winter months.

Walking is a great way to meet the 30 minutes a day of moderate physical activity. But going for a walk in cold and snowy weather brings special challenges. Ensure a safe outdoor walk with these tips:

  • Be aware of the wind chill factor before starting your walk. When it’s windy, think about whether you want to walk into the wind when you are returning and warmed up from exercise or when you begin and are warm from your home.
  • Select a route with no snow or ice when possible.
  • Dress warmly in several layers of loosefitting, tightly woven clothing. Wear a waterproof coat, hat, gloves, a scarf, or knit mask to cover your face, and waterproof boots. Be careful you aren’t so bundled up that you can’t hear or see what is going on around you!
  • Use sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher before going outdoors and reapply as needed. Protecting your skin from the sun is important in the winter even if the air and wind are brutally cold.
  • Share your planned route with family or friends in case of an emergency and carry a cell phone, if you have one.
  • Take a break when you begin to feel fatigue. Watch for signs of cold weather health problems such as hypothermia and frostbite.
  • Walk with a friend! It will help keep you motivated.
Barb Dunn Swanson

Barb Dunn Swanson

With two earned degrees from Iowa State University, Barb is a Human Sciences Specialist utilizing her experience working alongside communities to develop strong youth and families! With humor and compassion, she enjoys teaching, listening and learning to learn!

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Children’s weight related to media use

Did you know that media use has been linked to being overweight and obese? In the U.S., children between 8-and 18-years old spend an average of 44.5 hours a week using media and only 8.75 hours a week exercising. Children who spend too much time using media tend to be overweight. In fact, research shows that a preschooler’s risk of becoming obese increases 6% for every hour of T.V. watched per day.

Obesity is a major health concern and an epidemic for our nation, including our nation’s children of all ages. The prevalence of obesity in the U.S. increased from 15% in 1980 to 34% in 2008 among adults and increased from 5% in 1980 to 17% in 2008 among children and adolescents.
Too much media use can increase body weight and reduce:

  • physical activity
  • reading
  • doing homework
  • playing with friends
  • spending time with family
  • metabolic rates

Parents must set rules and limit their child’s access to media and encourage healthy alternatives to media use, especially exercise.

Scientists have found that reducing the amount of time preschoolers watch television lowers their body weight. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests:

  • Absolutely no screen time for children under the age of three years
  • No more than 1 hour of total screen time for children ages 3-12 years per day

All children should get at least 60 minutes of moderate or intense aerobic physical activity each day. There are many alternatives to media use that parents can recommend to their children, such as:

  • Riding a bike
  • Playing outside
  • Going to the library
  • Attending a sporting or musical event
  • Playing with a friend
  • Walking a dog
  • Practicing a musical instrument
  • Playing a board game
  • Reading a book
  • Drawing
  • Swimming
  • Going for a walk
  • Participating in organized activities such as baseball, tennis, dance, and swimming, and
  • Cooking family meals together

For more information about preventing obesity, visit http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/.

Donna Donald

Donna Donald

Donna Donald is a Human Sciences specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach who has spent her career working with families across the lifespan. She believes families are defined by function as well as form. Donna entered parenthood as a stepmother to three daughters and loves being a grandmother of seven young adults.

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