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Raising Fit Kids: Healthy Nurtition, Exercise, and Weight

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How to Have a Healthy Day From Morning to Night

6 a.m. -- Banish Your Snooze Button

Does your family love to snooze? "Just 10 more minutes!" Did you know that extra snoozing may be leaving you less rested?

Short, disrupted sleep cycles can make you and your kids groggy. Instead, pick a wake-up time and make sure you and your kids stick to it -- even on the weekends. A consistent sleep schedule will make mornings easier.

6:30 a.m. -- Plank It Out

Start your day on a fit note with one exercise that strengthens your whole body: the dolphin plank.

Lay flat on your stomach, and then push yourself up onto your elbows and your toes. You want your back straight, abs tight. Hold your neck straight, too. Work your way up to holding it for 1 minute.

You can do the plank almost anywhere (beside your bed, on the bath mat, in front of the TV). Plus, it's easy for kids to learn. Get them planking in the morning, too.

7 a.m. -- Break for Breakfast

Breakfast has so many great benefits! Eating well early in the day makes you feel satisfied, which can help you say no to unhealthy snacks later on.  

It may even make you and your kids smarter. New research shows that kids who eat breakfast daily do much better on IQ tests than kids who only eat breakfast "sometimes."

The best breakfasts have a protein-carb combo. Try an egg and whole wheat toast, almond butter spread on an apple, or low-fat yogurt with fresh berries.

8:30 a.m. -- Relax on Your Commute

Finding times throughout your day to relax is a great way to be healthier. Surprisingly, your commute may offer an opportunity for relaxation.

Try joining a van pool or car pool, or taking the bus or train. Then, you may be able to read or listen to music to relax. Or, can you work flexible hours to avoid peak traffic, or telecommute one day? 

Every little bit of stress management matters. Stress raises the risk of obesity, heart issues, and more. So teach your kids to find small moments during the day to chill, too.

Noon -- Recharge During Lunch

Work stress -- headaches, fatigue -- you know the feeling. But did you know that too much stress can also lead you down the road to unhealthy habits? Have you ever found yourself stress-eating or feeling too frazzled to pick healthy foods? Maybe you passed on a workout because you felt too drained.

Relaxing will help you regain energy so you can be mindful of the choices you make. Use your lunch break to eat and take a sanity break, even if it's short. Go for a walk around the block. Or, find a private spot and feel yourself breathe for a few minutes to get refreshed. 

At home, teach your kids these stress-busting techniques and the importance of relaxing to re-energize and refocus.

3:30 p.m. -- Snack Smart

Avoid the high-sugar trap of candy or the office vending machine when your blood sugar drops mid-afternoon. At work, keep healthy snacks at your desk or in a bag. At home, make healthy afternoon snacks available for your kids.

Choose a combo of carbs and protein to give you a slow release of energy. Think apple slices and peanut butter, whole-grain crackers with reduced-fat cheese cubes, or small containers of veggies and hummus. 

5:30 p.m. -- When You Get Home, Take It Outside

You book time for meetings, business trips, doctor visits, and parent-teacher conferences. Make family exercise time just as important by putting it on your calendar, too.

One easy option that works for every age: a family walk. Start by scheduling a half-hour walk around the neighborhood at least 3 nights a week. Try it as soon as everyone gets home or right after dinner. (The dishes can wait!)

6:30 p.m. -- Fit in Family Dinner

Family meal times have all kinds of benefits for your kids. Recent research shows that the more meals a family shares together, the better off kids are emotionally, and they're less likely to be overweight.

How can you make family dinner happen? It may mean saying no to a few other items in your schedule. Do you need to be on that committee? Does your child need to play three sports? Just remember how good family dinner is for you all in the long run.

7 p.m. -- Mind Your Chores

Nighttime is time to wind down for a good night's sleep. Many people say meditation helps them relax.

Try "mindfulness meditation" with your evening chores. Teach your kids that whether you're washing dishes, folding laundry, or picking up stuff, focus all your attention on your task. Turn off the TV or other distractions.

Encourage your kids to notice how the water sounds pouring over the dish, the feeling of the dishes in their hands, or how the laundry smells. Let them describe it. Be fully present in the moment -- don’t think about what’s next or tomorrow. Being present is mindfulness, and it may help ease your stress.

7:30 p.m. -- Be a Kid

Take 15 minutes every evening to get down on the floor and play with your kids. Focus on them and nothing else: not your smartphone, not the TV.

If all your contact with your kids is about screen time, homework, chores, and getting in and out of the house, you'll all be drained, stressed, and unhappy.

Plus, turning off the TV at least an hour before bed can help everyone fall asleep easier. The bright light from the screen stops your brain from making the chemicals that make you sleepy.

Give Yourself a Bedtime

When you have healthy sleep habits, you model good examples for your kids to follow. Our bodies respond best to a reliable sleep schedule, rather than staying up late some nights and waking up late on weekends. 

Getting enough sleep can help kids and adults fight all kinds of health problems -- from obesity and diabetes, to heart disease and even the common cold. And lack of sleep makes it hard to make healthy choices to eat right and be physically active.

Slideshow: Bad Habits That Can Hurt Your Kids' Health

Reviewed by Hansa D. Bhargava, MD on May 23, 2013

Sources: Sources

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information: Disclaimer

© 2013 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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