Fruits and Vegetables Month

Food can be fun! Colorful fruits and vegetables are a great way to add brightness to your plate and entice your taste buds. You can find a variety of fresh produce at local farmers’ markets. Visiting your local farmers’ markets can be an exciting family outing! You can gather fresh ingredients and colorful fruits and vegetables, and, best of all, it’s something you can do together.

Get your kids involved! Your children may want to help make decisions about what goes on their plates. While in the produce section at the grocery store, help them explore the different fruits and vegetable options. A fun activity could be to pick produce that creates all the colors in the rainbow!

Not only can fruits and vegetables add color and create fun family activities, but they offer many health benefits including lowering cardiovascular disease risk (Bondonno, Bondonno, Ward, Hodgson, & Croft, 2017; Lassale et al., 2016), protecting the body against oxidative stress (Brookie, Best, & Conner, 2018), decreasing mental health disorders (Brookie et al., 2018), promoting nutrient absorption, and acting as anti-obesity agents (Pem & Jeewon, 2015).

As autumn approaches, here are some seasonal favorites you may like to try at home!

Research indicates that eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day will provide the greatest health benefits.

Do your part, live a longer life, and establish healthy life-long habits for your kids!

 

References

Bondonno, N. P., Bondonno, C. P., Ward, N. C., Hodgson, J. M., & Croft, K. D. (2017). The cardiovascular health benefits of apples: Whole fruit vs. isolated compounds. Trends in Food Science and Technology, 69, 243–256. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tifs.2017.04.012

Brookie, K. L., Best, G. I., & Conner, T. S. (2018). Intake of raw fruits and vegetables is associated with better mental health than intake of processed fruits and vegetables. Frontiers in Psychology, 9(APR), 1–14. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00487

Lassale, C., Castetbon, K., Laporte, F., Deschamps, V., Vernay, M., Camilleri, G. M., … Kesse-Guyot, E. (2016). Correlations between fruit, vegetables, fish, vitamins, and fatty acids estimated by web-based nonconsecutive dietary records and respective biomarkers of nutritional status. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 116(3), 427-438.e5. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2015.09.017

Pem, D., & Jeewon, R. (2015). Fruit and vegetable intake: Benefits and progress of nutrition education interventions- Narrative review article. Iranian Journal of Public Health, 44(10), 1309–1321.

 

Fit Family: Being Active Together

Physical activity should be included in the daily lives of children, and parents should serve as active role models. Research indicates that multiple benefits of mental and overall physical health occur from being active (Moore, 2008).  A simple way to incorporate physical activity in our daily routine is to plan activities that include the entire family. Current recommendations state that toddlers (0-3 years of age) should engage in a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise a day, and children and adolescents should engage in at least 60 minutes of exercise daily (Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2018). Some activities are listed below.  Remember, sometimes, let your children come up with activities, and, sometimes, plan your activities together. Allowing your children to organize the activity supports their independence and individuality, and planning together allows your children to know you care about what they say and helps develop decision-making and responsibility skills.

Infant/toddler Activities could include the following:

  • Pull the string – Set the toy just out of reach, and encourage the child to pull a string to grasp the toy.
  • Make your own instruments – Use pots and pans as drums and pound on them with hands or wooden or plastic spoons to improve your child’s large and small motor coordination skills
  • Rattle shaking – Allow the infant to explore and play with a rattle. If it is easy to shake, put a sock over it to teach the baby hand-eye coordination.
  • Remix of Old Macdonald – Sing Old Macdonald using the baby’s name as Old Macdonald and body parts as the animals.
  • Play ball – Sit on the floor with your infant and roll a ball or multiple balls (i.e., how many balls depends on the child’s age and developmental stage) to him or her to encourage body movement and muscle control.
  • Busy board – Build a board full of objects that generate the use of sensory skills, such as attaching Velcro, sandpaper, or silk

Family Inclusive Activities could include the following:

  • Bicycling
  • Playing Tag
  • Swimming
  • Swinging
  • Hiking
  • Sledding
  • Walking
  • Cooking
  • Collecting leaves
  • Going to the park or zoo
  • Bowling
  • Dancing at home
  • Playing on a Jungle gym
  • Making an obstacle course
  • Playing Simon says

 

Additional Resources:

https://thrive.psu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Moving-to-THRIVE.pdf

https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/wecan/get-active/family-active-time.htm

References:

Moore, M., & Russ, S. W. (2008). Follow-up of a pretend play intervention: Effects on play, creativity, and emotional processes in children. Creativity Research Journal, 20(4), 427-436.

Office of Disease Prevention & Health Promotion, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2008). 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Retrieved from http:// www.health.gov/paguidelines/ guidelines/default.aspx

2018 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans

The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion has released the updated Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. The updated guidelines are based on the latest scientific evidence that explains the benefits of daily physical activity.

The guidelines provide evidence-based recommendations for improving health through increased physical activity. New aspects of the guidelines discuss the following:

  • Additional health benefits related to brain health, additional cancer sites, and fall-related injuries;
  • Immediate- and longer-term benefits for how people feel, function, and sleep;
  • Further benefits among older adults and people with additional chronic conditions;
  • Risks of sedentary behavior
  • Guidance for preschool children (ages 3 through 5 years);
  • Elimination of the requirement for physical activity of adults to occur in bouts of at least 10 minutes; and
  • Tested strategies that can be used to get the population more active.

You can download the updated Guidelines at http://health.gov/PAGuidelines

 

Reference:

Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (November 18, 2018). Retrieved from https://health.gov/PAGuidelines

Helmet and Bike Safety

Whether used for transportation or just for fun, bikes can be a great way to get outdoors and get some exercise! When parents encourage their children to practice bike and helmet safety, they can help prevent some injuries that can occur while riding, such as concussions. Perhaps most importantly, both children and adults should always wear a helmet every time they ride a bike – even on short rides. While not all injuries can be prevented, a good-fitting helmet can provide protection to one’s face, skull, and brain if a fall occurs. But with so many options, finding the right helmet for your child may seem overwhelming.

Follow the guidelines below for some help!

  • As helmets are so important, the U.S. government has created safety standards for them. When purchasing a helmet for your child, look for a sticker that says it meets the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standards.
  • Helmets should fit snugly all around, with no space between the foam and the rider’s head.
  • The bottom of the pad inside the front of the helmet should be one or two finger widths above the rider’s eyebrows. The back should not touch the top of the rider’s neck.
  • Make sure you can see your child’s eyes and that he or she can see straight forward and side-to-side.
  • Side straps should make a “V” shape under and slightly in front of the rider’s ears.
  • No more than one or two fingers should be able to fit under the chin strap. When your child opens his or her mouth wide, the helmet should pull down on their head. If it doesn’t, the chin strap needs to be tighter.
  • The helmet should not move in any direction once the chin strap is fastened.
  • If your helmet is damaged or has been through a crash, get a new one! Helmets are designed to help protect the rider from one serious impact.

Riding a bike that is in good condition and is the right size for your child can also help keep him or her safe! To quickly test a bike to see if it is the right size, have your child stand straddling the top bar of the bike with both feet are on the ground. There should be 1 to 3 inches of space between your child and the top bar. Also, always check that your child’s bike has brakes that work well and the tires have enough air.

Once your child has a helmet that fits and a bike that is the right size, he or she is ready to ride! Helping your child to understand and follow the following safety guidelines can help keep him or her safety while riding:

  • Always ride with hands on the handlebars.
  • Always stop and check for traffic in both directions when leaving your driveway, a curb, or an alley.
  • Use bike lanes when possible, and always ride on the right side of the street, in the same direction as cars.
  • Stop at all stop signs, obey traffic lights, and learn appropriate turning signals.
  • Ride with friends in a single file line.
  • Do not wear headphones while riding a bike. Music may distract the rider from noises, such as car horns.

References:

Centers for Disease Control. (2015). Get a heads up on bike helmet safety. Retrieved from

https://www.cdc.gov/headsup/pdfs/helmets/headsup_helmetfactsheet_bike_508.pdf

Kidshealth. (2014). Bike safety. Retrieved from http://kidshealth.org/en/kids/bike-safety.html