OBESITY IS A RISK FACTOR FOR MANY CHRONIC DISEASES AND SERIOUS HEALTH CONDITIONS, such as heart disease, high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes. At a time when more than 30% of adults in Kansas and Missouri are considered obese, making healthy lifestyle choices is more important than ever. Making decisions for yourself can be challenging, but if you’re trying to get the entire family on board, it can be downright overwhelming.
Braden L. Dunbar, DO, a family medicine physician with Meritas Health Vivion, sees patients of every age — children and adults. She knows the positive impact of living healthy. “Summer is a good time to start new healthy habits,” she notes. “The weather makes it really easy.” To get you started, Dr. Dunbar shares five of her favorite ways to get your family focused on health.
- Hit the ParksWith more than 200 parks and 100 miles of trails, Kansas City boasts an incredible amount of green space. “Just moving counts as exercise,” Dr. Dunbar says. “You can keep it simple while having fun.” She recommends Macken Park and Happy Rock Park for beginners. The walking paths aren’t overwhelming, and there are fun play areas for children and plenty of resting spots.
- Splash the Day Away“Go to the pool or splash pad, or set up a sprinkler on the lawn,” Dr. Dunbar suggests. “That gets in a lot of activity and movement, and it’s fun.” Remember the sunscreen!
- Play in Your DrivewayA quick trip to a discount store and a little creativity can turn your driveway into a great play space. Dr. Dunbar recommends hopscotch, four square, jump rope, hula hooping and basketball. You can also build a makeshift obstacle course.
- Shop Farmers MarketsKansas City area residents have access to more than 30 farmers markets throughout the metro. If you’ve never been to a farmers market before, you’re missing out! “Buy small portions of new foods to try,” she advises. “And just buy for the week. Don’t stock up on too many things and have food go to waste.”
- Plan Your MealsBusy families need to get dinner on the table fast. With a little planning, quick and easy meals can also be healthy meals. Involve the family in making meal choices. “My nieces, nephew and I spend time looking through Pinterest for fun new recipes to try together,” Dr. Dunbar says. Look for healthy swaps of family favorites like replacing traditional pasta with spaghetti squash or using hummus instead of mayonnaise.
The more fun you make getting active, the more your family will want to join in. “Sometimes getting children to do what we want is a power struggle,” Dr. Dunbar says. “But if it’s their idea or they have a say in it, it can be a win-win.”
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