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Why it’s important to be healthy role models for your kids – and how YOU can get started.

You may not know it, but your day-to-day behaviour – from the way you drive or the tone of your voice to how healthy you are – is shaping the way your child will act for the rest of their life. You are your kids’ role model, their hero – they look up to you and strive to be just like you!

That’s why it’s so important for you to be a healthy role model when it comes to getting active and eating well.

Vitality and Marvel are celebrating healthy, happy families, so join us in our quest to get your family moving like Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Endgame’ Super Heroes.

Being a hero combines being active and fit as well as being brave, resilient, and having heart – comparable to any fitness journey. Here are six tips on how you can be the ULTIMATE healthy hero and role model for your kids and create healthy habits as a family.

1. Healthy habits start at home.

Make sure that you create healthy habits as a family, starting with the basics:

  • Eat three healthy meals a day.
  • Include the important building blocks every day, which are vegetables and fruit, wholegrains, legumes (beans, lentils, and chickpeas), plain dairy, healthy protein and fat.
  • Eat less sugary and salty foods and fast food.
  • Drink plain water when thirsty.
  • Replace sugary drinks, including fruit juice, with water.
  • Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep every night.
  • Limit alcohol consumption and don’t smoke.

2. Stand up!

A recent study into sedentary behaviour among adolescents found that children are not getting enough physical activity. The study revealed by the age of 11, children are sitting down an average of two hours more a day than when they were six years old. What’s more, only 63% of 11-year-olds are engaging in the recommended 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise a day.

Standing up can help reduce the risk of heart disease, so halt the habit of sitting down by getting up and engaging in physical activity, yourself first as the role model, then as a family!

3. Walk / swim / ride by example.

Just 60 minutes of physical activity a day can help children boost their fitness, build strong bones and muscles, decrease risks of illness, develop social skills, and boost their confidence and sense of self-worth. It can also help them manage stress and anxiety.

Experts recommend a combination of aerobic activity (walking, cycling, swimming or jumping rope); strength training (sit ups, push ups or weights); and flexibility training (yoga and stretching) to help children (and adults) become more active and healthier.

Do a parkrun or myrun as a family, go to the gym, or cycle together. Your kids will thank you for it and it will bring you closer together.

4. Make time to play.

One of the reasons why children aren’t active enough is that parents don’t have time to keep their children engaged in sports. Break the cycle by making time to play as a family. The most important thing is to keep moving! Small changes can make a big difference, for example taking the dog for a walk, walking or cycling to school if you live close enough, teaching your kids to play hopscotch, hula hooping, climbing trees, building an indoor obstacle course, playing hide-and-seek or creating an indoor treasure hunt. The only limit is your imagination. Make sure to ask your kids what they like to do and have them create fun games to do in and around the house.

5. Make chores fun.

You don’t have to break the bank (or your back) to get your kids active. You can also get them to do chores around the house – gardening, cleaning, sweeping up leaves, or washing the dog. Lead by example – being a role model means you have to make sure that they can see you engaging in the same activities and having fun while you’re doing it.

6. Use screen time as a reward.

Another reason why children are less active is the rise of technology. But technology isn’t the enemy; in fact, there are many ways you can use it to inspire your kids to be active.

You can make exercise fun by using tracking devices to measure progress or by investing in interactive console video games – for example dancing or tennis – that will get the whole family moving.

Once your kids (and you!) have done your recommended 60 minutes a day of physical activity, you can use screen time as a reward for getting active and healthy.

Stand a chance to win your share of R25 000 worth of prizes with Vitality and Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Endgame. Click here to enter

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