Creating Healthy Habits Together

Creating Healthy Habits Together

Last updated: December 5, 2016, at 9:16 a.m. PT

Originally published: November 16, 2016, at 2:14 p.m. PT

For many kids and families, back to school means the return of busy schedules, less sleep, and reduced playtime. Changes in sleep patterns and activity levels not only makes kids grumpy, but also contributes to weight gain and the health problems associated with childhood obesity.

One in three kids in the U.S. are overweight or obese, but the good news is that this growing trend can be reversed by community organizations, families, and educators working together to create more opportunities for kids to eat healthier and be active.

The Y’s Actively Changing Together (ACT!) program helps families live healthier together thru small lifestyle changes like these:

  1. Start with H2O: Make water the drink of choice and try adding oranges, limes, or mint for extra flavor without the sugar.
  2. Involve Kids in the Kitchen: At the grocery store or farmers market, ask kids to pick out a fruit or vegetable they’d like to try or plant an herb garden together and add the results instead of extra salt to your family recipes.
  3. Play Every Day: Kids should have at least an hour a day of unstructured playtime. Try taking an after dinner walk, play basketball, or bike together around your neighborhood.
  4. Reduce Recreational Screen Time: Set a family challenge to reduce screen time at home by turning off TVs and phones during meals. Plan a fun family daytrip as the reward for achieving your goal.
  5. Sleep Well: Both kids and adults need to keep a regular sleep schedule; 10-12 hours of healthy sleep per night for kids and 7 -8 hours for adults is recommended. Turn off TVs and electronic devices an hour before bedtime to help kids establish a regular pattern and fall asleep easier.

“ACT! engaged our whole family. Now we are healthier and we really enjoyed learning together about nutrition, so much so that we talk about healthy eating during our family mealtimes.” – A.J. Verdugo, program participant.

Read more about ACT!