Keeping Kids Active in the New Year

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted team sports and fitness centers, limiting many options for physical activity. Winter weather can also make it a challenge for children to get the recommended amount of daily exercise.

The beginning of a new year is a great time to focus on physical activity for the entire family. Regular physical activity has many benefits for overall health. Exercise can improve sleep, help with concentration, and reduce stress. Exercise has also been shown to lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some types of cancers.

To stay healthy, children should be physically active for at least 60 minutes every day. Keep in mind that these minutes do not have to be completed all at once and can be broken down into smaller periods throughout the day.

There are many ways to incorporate exercise into your family’s daily routine:

  • There is an ever-increasing amount of virtual exercise options available online. GoNoodle, Cosmic Kids Yoga, and Get Moving with Disney Family are all engaging ways to get kids excited about exercising. Both the YMCA and YouTube have free online workout videos. With so many choices, you’re sure to find something that interests everyone in your family.
  • A daily walk (if the weather allows) is a great way to stay active and get out of the house while also practicing social distancing. In winter, snowball fights and sledding can be a fun way to get moving.
  • At home, families can be active together by having a dance party or playing a game of tag. Yardwork and household chores can also count as physical activity.

The most important thing to remember is to be creative and have fun! If exercise is enjoyable, it will be much easier to make it a regular part of your family’s routine.

by Autumn Barbero, ARNP, Certified Primary Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

Season’s Eatings…oops, Greetings!

Hot cocoa with whipped cream and warm apple filling

Simmering recipes and foods meant for grilling

Warm cookie packages tied up with strings

These are a few of my favorite things

Tis the season for some of the most delicious foods and flavors of the year. And for some of us, these foods also bring with it stress and anxiety; the stress and anxiety of the “all or nothing” thoughts that can sabotage our efforts of healthier eating during the holiday season. It is much healthier to separate ourselves from this way of thinking and aim to have more realistic goals and expectations during this time. Having a collection of tips and tricks to manage our holiday eating habits, can also help to lower the level of stress and anxiety we may experience. Read on to find some tips that may work for you.

  • Be sure to continue efforts of eating regularly. It is best not to skip regularly planned meals and snacks in an attempt to enjoy your favorite meals or treats. Enjoy your regularly planned meals and snacks AND your favorite treat or meal too. Depriving yourself of food leading up to the meal or snack will often result in slow metabolism, difficulty controlling blood sugars, unpredictable moodiness, increased fatigue, and possible overeating. Also be sure to keep yourself well hydrated throughout the day.
  • Try to avoid overeating. Listen closely to your body’s cues and practice mindful eating. Keep in tune to how your stomach is physically feeling throughout the meal and aim to stop eating when you begin to feel satiated or satisfied. Another part that is helpful in avoiding overeating is being mindful as to what you fill your plate with and making smart choices.
  • Make smart choices. Before beginning to fill your plate at the meal, take a moment to consider all the food choices. You may decide to completely forgo your least favorite foods and opt to take smaller portions of your favorites. You might also think about filling half your plate with fruit and/or vegetables first. When also considering your meal choices, think about what you might like to have after your meal too. Dessert is often a wonderful treat that all should take the pleasure in enjoying this time of the year, should they want to. To practice mindfully, do you take a smaller slice of pie? Go without whipped topping? Create a healthier concoction all your own? Or perhaps dessert is the “crème de la crème” for you and you made smarter meal choices so that you can enjoy dessert to the fullest…then you should do just that.
  • Enjoy your meal, your company, and your blessings. After an interesting 2020, take the time to enjoy the meal and time with your loved ones or whomever you may be spending your time or meal with. Slow down and “drink it all it”, put your fork down between each bite, partake in the conversations with others, and if able, wait about 15 minutes before deciding if you want to return for second helpings of food. Let your digestion begin its work. 
  • If possible, include exercise as part of your holiday fun/plans. Not a requirement but a gentle suggestion. Finding a way to move often makes anyone feel a little cheerier, due to the release of endorphins (the “happy” hormone). During this holiday season, consider taking a walk, seeking out the nearest sledding hill, trying ice skating, building a snowman, trying yoga/Pilates/qigong at home, or playing some basketball.
  • Enjoy the holidays! At the end of day, if concerns about healthy eating during the holidays is too overwhelming for you, then let it be. Always remember that one of the most important parts about this season is enjoying the memories you make with loved ones (even when the memories of this year look quite different from others). 

By Keri Smith, RD

Holiday Blues

Many people can experience feelings of anxiety or depression during the holiday season. People who already live with a mental health condition should take extra care to tend to their overall health and wellness during this time.  Extra stress, unrealistic expectations or even sentimental memories that accompany the season can be a catalyst for the holiday blues. Some can be at risk for feelings of loneliness, sadness, fatigue, tension and a sense of loss.  A lot of seasonal factors can trigger the holiday blues such as, less sunlight, changes in your diet or routine, alcohol at parties, over-commercialization or the inability to be with friends or family. These are all factors that can seriously affect your mood.