The 19th Annual Family Health and Fitness day USA was yesterday. Man, you missed it… Wait, what is that exactly?
Family Health Fitness Day is a day where families have an opportunity to participate in health promotion events at hundreds of locations throughout the country, including YMCAs, health clubs, community parks, schools, faith-based organizations, and state or local health organizations. The goal is to promote the importance of regular physical activity for children and their parents.
Sounds good, right? Did you know that September is National Healthy Aging Month. September is also National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. World Heart Day is Tuesday, September 29. National Women’s Health and Fitness Day is Wednesday, September 30. (I am exhausted from celebrating all these national health observances, aren’t you?)
The running theme in these national health observances is physical activity. We are under an epidemic of lack of physical activity. It used to be normal for children (and sometimes the adults) to play outside until dark, to have recess every day, and to walk or ride their bike. Now we have to schedule our physical activity. We have to make months to “nationally observe” and promote ways to be healthy and physically active.
Am I the only one who thinks that’s just a little bit backwards? We think it is great when a friend announces that they recently started taking kickboxing classes. And it is… because kickboxing is cool. And so is water aerobics and kayaking. As we discover these great ways to be active, we like to share them. So we share on Facebook and in our church groups. But we rarely share in them together. If I announced that I have recently started playing with my kids, that sounds backwards, doesn’t it?
We should embrace opportunities to engage in physical activity with our kids, our parents, and our spouses. Physical activity is good for everyone and can look very different depending on where they are in their life and their abilities. It could be playing soccer in the front yard with your young daughter, orr taking a walk in the park with your parent, or going on a bike ride with your 20-something, or throwing a baseball in the backyard with your middle school son, or playing a dodgeball game at a local game facility with your teenager, or joining an adult soccer league with your spouse, or pushing a stroller while helping with a walker on one of our local community trails.
These moments are good for our overall health. Simply put, we will remember those moments because it wasn’t just us. I certainly don’t remember anything about the last spinning class I took but I will remember the parent versus player soccer game we played at the end of my daughter’s last soccer season. And so will my daughter. And because of that, we will do it again.
So whether you are celebrating Women’s Health and Fitness Day, National Obesity Awareness Month, or just looking for a good time on a Saturday afternoon, the purpose of Family Health Fitness Day should not stop just because it was celebrated yesterday. And it shouldn’t stop when the kids grow up either. You never outgrow the need to be physically active. It doesn’t matter what age or ability you are, being physically active is good for you. And what better way to do that than to do it with someone you love.
Maybe our kids and grandkids will see the example that you set and remember those moments. Small changes like that can make a big difference.
Hosanna Fletcher has lived in Newton County since 2005. With a Masters in Public Health and another in Sociology, she has worked on a variety of community development projects, led training sessions for Lay Health Advisors, conducted and evaluated health risk assessments, and designed and implemented employee wellness programs. Hosanna and her husband Kevin, a Newton County native, have been married for 15 years this October. They have two children — Miranda, 11, and Thomas, 3.