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Be An Active Family

December 21, 2018

Host: Dr. Jennifer Hunter, Assistant Director for Family and Consumer Sciences Extension, University of Kentucky 

Guest: Natalie Jones, Extension Specialist for Family Health

Episode 28

0:00Welcome to Talking FACS; what you need to know about family, food, finance and fitness. Hosted by the University of Kentucky Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Program, our educators share research knowledge with individuals, families and communities to improve quality of life.

0:20 Dr. Jennifer Hunter: Hello and welcome back to Talking FACS. This is your host, Dr. Jennifer Hunter, Assistant Director for Family Consumer Sciences Extension at the University of Kentucky.

Today, I'm pleased to have joining us, Natalie Jones, our physical activity coordinator. Today, Natalie is going to share tips with us on how to keep the family active. Thanks so much for joining us, Natalie.

0:38 Natalie Jones: Thanks for having me.

0:40 Dr. Jennifer Hunter: I think that this is a great topic. As a mom, I'm constantly trying to think of, “What should we do this weekend?” or “How do I get the kiddos out?” or “How do I make certain they're not having too much screen time?” So, I'm excited to have this conversation and see what tidbits I can take home with me as well.

But let's just start with the very basics of “Why should families be active?”

1:01 Natalie Jones: Right. That’s a great question. Physical activity is one of the most important steps to being healthy; physical activity and nutrition. So, families play an important role in helping youth and kids learn how to be active and stay active throughout their whole lives.

So, the bottom line is children are always watching their parents; every move, every action. So, if a parent is sedentary, then there's a good chance that the child will be too.

However, if parents eat healthy and exercise and do so with their children on a regular basis, then they're teaching them so many valuable lessons for their life.

1:33 Dr. Jennifer Hunter: Sometimes I think that I have this perception of how much physical activity that we need or what we should be doing. What are the recommendations for physical activity?

1:43 Natalie Jones: Yeah. So, the American Heart Association recommends that healthy children around age 2 and older should participate in one hour of moderate to vigorous activity. And the recommendation for adults is to get 30 minutes of activity five days a week. However, the more the better.

2:00 Dr. Jennifer Hunter: How would you define moderate to vigorous activity?

2:03 Natalie Jones: Yeah. So, a moderate activity is you're able to hold a conversation; you can kind of talk. And a vigorous activity would be you're kind of gasping to get those one or two words out at a time.

2:15 Dr. Jennifer Hunter: Okay. So, an hour sounds like it could be a lot of moderate to vigorous activity especially for some of us. Do you have some suggestions on how to get that hour in?

2:23 Natalie Jones: Yeah. So, an hour does sound like a large chunk of time, but with activity and family routine, really you can split it up. And it all adds up.

In addition, remember the health benefits. And I think a lot of times with this moderate to vigorous activity, fitness sounds scary.

2:42 Dr. Jennifer Hunter: Right.

2:43 Natalie Jones: And it sounds like sweat and pushing yourself hard. That's not what it's all about. It's about having enough energy to do your activities of daily living safely and enjoying what your body can do for you.

2:54 Dr. Jennifer Hunter: What are the benefits of physical activity? How can you persuade me to be more physically active?

3:00 Natalie Jones: Right. So, this is why everybody should be physically active. The benefits of exercise are endless. They go deeper than just fighting heart disease and other adolescent risk factors for poor health. When you're thinking about your child's growth and development, physical activity helps build strong bones and muscles, maintain a healthy weight, decreases those risks of developing obesity and Type 2 diabetes or any heart disease.

Children who exercise actually do better academically. So, that's always a plus.

3:30 Dr. Jennifer Hunter: Probably more focused.

3:31 Natalie Jones: Exactly. And they're able to remember things better. It reduces their stress level and really helps with mental health as well.

And one of the biggest things that I think is important for families in being active is that playing together really bonds and builds that lasting relationship and opens up time and space that you're dedicated to your child where they could maybe even talk to you or share something with you that they wouldn't have done if you hadn't been playing with them in that moment.

So, those are the benefits. But one of the main things that just came out from the CDC that I think is going to for sure persuade you to be active, especially with your kids is that right now, Kentucky ranks third highest with high school obesity rates. So, 20.2 percent of Kentucky high school students are obese.

So, by promoting physical activity and healthy eating at home and limiting those sedentary behaviors of videogames or being on your tablet, families can help reduce this statistic and improve long term well-being for Kentucky kids.

4:33 Dr. Jennifer Hunter: Right. And as you say, the more that we model that as parents, the more our kiddos will learn that as a young age and then it just becomes a habit for them throughout their life.

4:41 Natalie Jones: Right. It seems normal.

4: 43 Dr. Jennifer Hunter: So, what can families do to get and keep their children active?

4:47 Natalie Jones: So, exactly what I think we've been touching on is that really model that behavior and mentor children to enjoy physical activity. Don't necessarily focus on exercise or fitness, but just physical activity and movement; really encouraged that.

Parents or caregivers can also help with youth to balance those non-active times like watching TV or video games, using the computer. And again, that's okay to use those, but in moderation.

So, as the parent, really kind of set those boundaries and model that behavior yourself. So, if you're at home watching TV and also on your tablet or your phone, most likely your kid is going to be sitting right next to you. So, maybe instill those little commercial breaks and do things to move your body as well.

5:32 Dr. Jennifer Hunter: So, all great ideas. Can you give us some more tips on how to model positive behavior?

5:39 Natalie Jones: So, getting fit as a family, again like I said, doesn't have to be time consuming or complex. I know an hour sounds like a lot, but you can make it fun and split it up and be creative with it.

So, building in activity family time into daily routine could just include a walk after dinner or using those parks baseball fields by your house maybe after dinner just to be active or anytime, get outside.

Planting a garden is a good way as well to encourage a lot of not only healthy eating, but movement and being active instead of just sitting inside.

6:12 Dr. Jennifer Hunter: And kiddos love to watch things grow.

6:13 Natalie Jones: Yes and get their hands dirty. So, anything like that; maybe park far away to get that extra step or just taking the stairs instead of an elevator. Have a dance party; jam out to some music while you're cleaning, get the kids to do chores. So, that's the kind of things that you can do to fit things in just into a normal routine.

But you could also schedule family playtime, like maybe have a game night, have your kids attend a local community activity. One thing that I always try to recommend is teaching them how to live a healthy lifestyle and to enjoy that and reinforcing that family bond and family traditions.

And so, one thing that my family has always done is competed in the (competed; loose term) in the July 4th 10k in our community and all of us participate in it from a young age. So, I can remember walking it with my mom and walking it with my dad, to then be able to run it with my dad and my brother, to then be able to beat my brother; I can say that.

7:17 Dr. Jennifer Hunter: But you weren't competing.

7:18 Natalie Jones: We're not competing. And just having that family bond and being able to know that running or walking is normal and something that we always did on this holiday really encourage me to be healthy throughout my life.

And so, that's something that my parents started just as kids; just walking. And so, that's something a parent can model as well in their community.

7:40 Dr. Jennifer Hunter: So, we'll be certain to for the podcast of your brother just in case he wants to dispute you won.

7:45 Natalie Jones: Exactly.

7:46 Dr. Jennifer Hunter: I know that my husband always likes to park at the very back parking spot where ever we go and the kids make fun of him. But his response is always, “We can use the extra steps”.

7:57 Natalie Jones: Exactly.

7:58 Dr. Jennifer Hunter: And it's even kind of morphed into this little game that we now play on “Who can get the most steps” and “How many steps did you get today?” and if the kiddos have a way to track that, obviously, my husband and I do and our son is old enough that he has a phone that tracks his steps. So, our daughter just kind of lives through our step count and assumes that she gets whoever she walked with the most during the day.

But it has become just a little bit of a competition of who had the most steps throughout the day.

8:25 Natalie Jones: A fun, healthy competition.

8:25 Dr. Jennifer Hunter: Right.

8:26 Natalie Jones: Exactly.

8:27 Dr. Jennifer Hunter: So, I definitely agree that parents and caregivers are going to be a huge influence on their kids health behavior. What about our friends; the children's friends?

8:37 Natalie Jones: Kids do spend a lot of time with their friends at school or just outside of school as well. So, their social settings are huge influence on their lives as well.

So, as a parent, I would really say to encourage your children to be active with their friends. So, maybe limiting screen time when you have friends over, encouraging them to ride a bike instead of playing a video game.

And then also one thing that parents can do is give toys or items that incentivize physical activity instead of getting video games. So, maybe for a young child, could get chalk or jump ropes or balls; things like that that they would want to play with their friends, but outside.

And maybe even make special events around physical activity like host a birthday party at a trampoline house or a rock climbing wall, anything like that to really celebrate movement as well as whatever occasion you're doing.

And then another way that you can encourage your child to be healthy and physically active with friends is to encourage them to participate in a team or an individual sport. Again, it doesn't have to be competitive, it could be anything just like biking, hiking, jogging or swimming with friends.

9:50 Dr. Jennifer Hunter: So, I know as a parent that I love the recreational birthday parties that if they go to a trampoline park, they're going to come home exhausted, which is great.

9:59 Natalie Jones: Exactly, it's great for everybody. Everybody benefits.

10:01 Dr. Jennifer Hunter: I love when we get those invites. So, all great tips. Final things that you have to share with us about encouraging physical activity within the family.

10:10 Natalie Jones: Yeah. The main thing; have fun, get the family involved, maybe let the kids pick or go crazy. Let them create a game; who knows where their imagination will take them, and just be positive about physical activity. Encourage their interest in new activities.

And then I think the key thing is just model that healthy lifestyle yourself. And that's the hardest part, but will truly have a major influence on your child's behavior.

And then modeling it and participating with them will encourage them to talk to you about maybe how physical activity makes them feel or how much fun they have with you and that's just a great bond with your child.

10:47Dr. Jennifer Hunter: Great. I always, after we wrap these up when you've been here, I always leave so motivated. And today, definitely leaving motivated with great tips and ideas to take home with the family.

10:57 Natalie Jones: Well, it’s great.

10:58 Dr. Jennifer Hunter: Thank you so much, Natalie.

10:59 Natalie Jones: Yeah, thank you.

11:00 Thank you for listening to Talking FACS. We deliver programs focusing on nutrition, health, resource management, family development and civic engagement.

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Visit us online at fcs.uky.edu to learn more about the University of Kentucky Family and Consumer Sciences Extension program or contact your local extension agent for Family and Consumer Sciences. We build strong families. It starts with us.