Many people start out the new year with a resolution for themselves to lose those pounds that have accrued over the last year – or sometimes just over the holidays. However, January is Family Fit Lifestyle month, and a great way to start the year is to set your whole family on the path to healthy.
Staying at an unhealthy weight, or even at a low weight with unhealthy habits, can cause issues in day to day life. Most people have heard the warnings…lack of exercise, poor nutrition, bad habits like smoking, not getting enough sleep, etc. all can cause problems such as lack of energy, running out of breath going up those few stairs at work, high blood pressure and cholesterol, increased risk of diabetes, and many more. However, for those who suffer from a neurological (or other) condition that is not immediately caused by poor health, a fit lifestyle can still play a role – in some cases, making a healthy change to these habits can actually help a person to better manage the symptoms of an otherwise unrelated disease! Some examples are fairly straightforward – a person whose diabetes has started to cause nerve problems in the feet may be able to use exercise and nutrition to lose weight and manage his or her diabetes, and as a result reduce the risk of continued or worsening nerve problems. Here are some tips for exercising with diabetes. Regular exercise can help keep muscles and the heart healthy, and oftentimes improving muscle and bone health can reduce or prevent back, muscle, and joint pain. By strengthening the supporting muscles, increasing blood flow to injured areas, and keeping the body flexible, the risk of injury is reduced, and existing injury may heal faster. Exercise and proper nutrition are also found time and again to be huge factors in maintaining brain health, which can reduce chances of developing diseases like Alzheimer’s and improve movement in people with Parkinson’s. Some MS symptoms may show improvement with exercise, and are better managed by those who already lead a healthy lifestyle before their diagnosis. Check this out for exercise tips and MS. Just about every condition out there can be positively impacted in some way by leading a fit lifestyle. Although some parts of disease will progress despite our best efforts, other symptoms can be minimized by keeping the rest of your body healthy. If you are thinking of getting started on any major changes to your exercise or diet, always remember to talk to your doctor first to make sure it is safe and a good fit for your particular level of fitness.
As you can see, many conditions can be improved by better fitness. Even better, though, is starting healthy habits early with your family. These can prevent certain future health issues, and an already established healthy lifestyle and healthy weight can help make unpreventable conditions much easier to manage when they do happen.
Find things to do with your family on a regular basis, ideally some physical activity 5 days a week. Try new things, make it fun, and enjoy the family time. You will feel better, and your kids will get into good habits that can last them a lifetime. If you are not sure where to start, check out Let’s Move for some ideas: http://www.letsmove.gov/make-physical-activity-part-your-familys-routine
If you or a loved one are affected by a disease or are interested in a particular cause, a great way to get the family together is to pick a fundraising event for the upcoming year that involves physical activity, like a walk, run, or bike ride. This sets a goal in the future to look forward to, and can be a strong motivator to stay active so that you are ready to go the distance when event day arrives. Raising money for something that hits close to home for your family can keep energy high – not only are you doing something healthy for yourself, you are also supporting research or resources for an issue close to your heart.
If you are already in a Family Fit Lifestyle, or are planning to make it a priority this new year, let us know what you plan to do! Share your ideas with us and others, you could be the motivator for someone else thinking of doing the same! Congratulations on making a great choice for you and your family’s health in 2014 and beyond!