A Healthy Family Requires Active Participation

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               By Barry Van Over, President of Premier Martial Arts International



We all that know American families, as a whole, are becoming increasingly unfit at an increasing rate. Each year, the rates for obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes increase in both adults and children. And, looking at the 5 to 10 year forecasts, obesity is projected to become a serious epidemic.

Currently, 1 in 3 American children are overweight and/or clinically obese. The 3 items below affect our children’s (and the families’) current and long-term physical and emotional health, as well as their future financial wellbeing (As obesity rates grow, so will our healthcare costs/rates over time.). This brings decreased health and increased costs to the modern family, creating more stress.

The biggest contributing factors to obesity are:

Each day, children (and adults) are spending an average of 7.5 hours in front of a screen (TV, computer, smartphone, video game, etc.). This promotes a sedentary lifestyle, causing muscles to not strengthen or develop. It also slows down metabolism.

Meal portion sizes have not only increased, but the quality of food consumed has dramatically decreased. Too much processed food contains way too much refined sugar and few nutrients.

Soda is being consumed at alarming quantities. Soda is LOADED with sugar and chemicals, which are a major contributing factors for obesity. Plus, not enough water is being consumed to properly hydrate and flush the body of toxins, thus leading to weakened immune systems.

What You Can Do To Strength the Health of Your Family

While genetic influence plays a role in obesity, it is a minor role, and, most importantly, it is something that can be controlled and overcome with proper diet and exercise. Good health starts at home. Parents need to educate their children and take the initiative when it comes to family health and wellbeing. After all, what is more important than good health for you and your family? Unfortunately, usually little help or structure is offered for overcoming this important family issue, so, here are some suggestions for promoting a healthy lifestyle within your family.

  1. When it comes to meal time, give EVERYONE a job. Nobody said it’s easy to prepare healthy meals, but this should not be the job of one parent. Both parents and ALL kids should participate, in some way, to help make meal preparation and clean-up easy and successful. In fact, the whole family should pitch in with all household chores (laundry, yard work, cleaning, etc.).
  2. Plan your week to control your budget. Emotional stress (like running a household) and lack of planning and preparation can lead to stressful decision making. With just a little planning, you should easily be able to minimize your trips to the grocery store or farmers markets, prepare meals and budget time for family exercise. Need help? Read through my Food & Nutrition Guide
  3. Parents should control portion sizes & consumption. Parents need to control the timing and set a healthy example for meals and snacks. To promote healthy options, don’t buy excessive prepackaged junk food, and do NOT keep soda, chips or candy in the house. Do not allow your kids to eat only meat or carbs, and pass on their salad or vegetables. Also, dessert (if any) should be viewed as a small treat, not a meal in itself. Control the food in the house by controlling the potion size and consumption at meal time. Children are learning from you, their guardian, so set the right kind of example.
  4. Limit electronic entertainment. Limit the following electronic entertainment to only 1 hour per day: TV, movies, video games, internet, Facebook, texting, etc. Also, all electronic devices should be left in the common/living areas of the house, not in the kids’ bedrooms. Today, kids suffer from a lack of sleep due to hours of playing in front of virtual screens.
  5. Budget time for family fitness

Typically, kids are sent to play in community sports leagues with other children their age or engage in school sports. These are important, but to promote a health as a lifestyle, family physical activity is equally important, especially at an early age. Family time builds a strong foundation that children will carry with them for life. The family that exercises together, thrives together. Physical activity can be a fun bonding experience for the entire family. Kickball, tennis, biking or just walking around the neighborhood together are all good ways to exercise as a family.

Also, don’t be afraid to strength train as a family. New studies show that children, as well as adults, need to strength train, in order to promote muscle growth and development, build a strong frame and prevent injuries. I’m NOT talking about major weight lifting, rather more resistance and body weight training, which involves pushups, resistance bands and moderately weighted medicine balls.

For information about our family martial arts programs go to premiermartialarts.com, or contact one of our locations directly. Premier Martial Arts strives to promote the overall well-being of our students and their families. From fitness kickboxing classes, self-defense classes, to competition classes, we have something for the whole family.



Barry Van Over is the owner and president of Premier Martial Arts International, of which there are currently over 80 location nationwide. Mr. Van Over has two locations in the WestKnoxville area and been empowering families lives through the martial arts in the Knoxville community for over 20 years. Mr. Van Over and his local studios can be reached at www.premiermartialarts.com.

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