How Can You Promote Your Family's Wellness?

Please answer the following questions:

    1. What is your HDL level?
    2. What is you LDL level?
    3. What is your cholesterol level?
    4. Is your car dirty or clean?
    5. Approximately how much gas is in your car?
    6. When is your next oil change due?


If you're like most Americans, questions 4, 5 and 6 were easy to answer. Most people know more about their automobiles than their own bodies. While the quality and length of your life is unaffected by how much wax is on your car, how much "wax" is building in your arteries makes a difference!

Overall health and wellness in this country remains poor. Media attention to heart disease, exercise and dietary habits is abundant, yet many still ignore the information. Americans continue to consume high fat foods, smoke cigarettes and perceive exercise as a quick jaunt to the kitchen during commercial breaks.

Do you realize that the human body is made to live 100 years? After experiencing cigarette smoke, blocked arteries, high blood pressure, obesity and other risk factors, however, the body is prematurely destroyed.

Many people are aware of their lack of wellness, but are not motivated to make necessary changes. Consider these obscure statistics as motivating:
  • The average adult watches four hours of TV per day. The average child watches 24 hours a week.
  • People watching three hours of TV a day are twice as likely to be obese as those who view less then one hour per day.
  • Only 7% of adults engage in one hour of strenuous activity per week. Only 33% of American adults engage in any form of recreational exercise per week.
  • Less than 12% of either parent spend one hour a week engaged in some form of recreational activity with their child.


Also consider these empirical consequences:
  • The average cost of health care is in excess of $6,000 per person a year. A health care cost rose over 13% in the past few years.
  • Each sedentary individual costs society $1,900 during their lifetime.
  • Exercisers have a 20% lower hospitalization rate.
  • Exercisers have 18% fewer work loss days.



What can families do to promote wellness? As a start, limit the amount of television viewing. Instead of being a couch potato, utilize the time for a fun and active family function. Or, if watching TV is the family choice, agree to exercise between commercials. Not only will this get the heart pumping, but it can be fun.

Parents and children are lost in the constant hustle and bustle of piano lessons, soccer games, and baseball practice. Barring the "news" reporting between family members, typical families do not take time to genuinely communicate. It's time to return to some of the old family traditions. For example, structuring home cooked meals at least three times a week will not only help assure good nutrition, but enhances communication and family wellness.

Encouraging family fitness is another important wellness step. Walking through the park, biking around the neighborhood or shooting baskets on the driveway help develop sound fitness habits. Children won't develop a healthy lifestyle, if parents are vegetating in front of the TV munching on chips and pop.

When was the last time the family attended church or synagogue? Evidence suggests a wellness connection: people who regularly attend religious services are less likely to become ill compared to those who don't. We all need something to believe in to help us cope with the uncertainties of life. It's not what you believe in, but rather, that you do believe in something.

Finally, expressing love is paramount to wellness. Although material things add to life's enjoyment, it's the "I love you" which really counts. We often take our loved ones for granted and lose sight of the importance of enhancing each other's self esteem. Tonight as you and your family enjoy a healthy home cooked meal, make an effort to truly communicate. Take the time to plan a recreational activity. Laugh together, say nice things, and don't forget about the big hug.

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About The Author / Credits: Keith Levick, Ph.D., is a health psychologist who has been in practice for 20 years and is an Adjunct Professor at Central Michigan University. He is the founder and director of the Center for Childhood Weight Management, a unique treatment program designed for overweight children, located in Farmington Hills, MI, and in YMCA'S throughout Michigan. Dr. Levick is also the President of Goren and Associates, a training and development company. Some of their clients include GM, DaimlerChrysler, Detroit Diesel, AT&T and other Fortune 500 companies. Dr. Levick serves on the Executive Board for the American Heart Association and is well published in the area of health and wellness.

Dr. Levick is author of a new book entitled, Why Is My Child So Overweight? A Parent's Guide to a Fit & Healthy Child, designed to help the entire family become more aware of eating behaviors and help create lifestyle changes. This book is available through SelfHelpBooks.com.

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