- Articulate the importance of physical activity for everyone your program serves.
- Apply knowledge to advocate for active lifestyles for everyone your program serves.
You are the “chief wellness officer” for your program. You are a role model and set an example for others to follow. When you are active and create a culture that values physical activity, you are more likely to motivate others at your program to do the same. In turn, your staff will pass along healthy habits to children and their families. Some ways to promote physical activity among staff may include: wearing a pedometer, taking a walk at lunch, participating with children on the playground, and sprucing up the grounds. When you incorporate physical activity into all aspects of your program, you are sending the message that this is a healthy place to grow, learn and work.
Children and Youth
As you have learned in Lesson One, physical activity is critical for brain and physical development. With the rise of childhood obesity and the increase in sedentary activity for children and youth, it is important that your program adopt a proactive approach to wellness. Children form habits early in life in part by watching the adults around them. By promoting an active lifestyle you are helping children and youth adopt positive lifelong habits while also reducing the threat of childhood obesity.
As a manager, you should make sure that children and youth are served healthy meals and snacks, have safe and ample space to engage in various types of physical activity, and receive the appropriate amount of daily physical activity while at your program.
In many instances, physical activity has been replaced by inactivity. It’s common for family members to be inside watching television or using a computer rather than outside riding bikes or taking walks. In today’s heavily scheduled world, it’s even more uncommon to find families engaged in physical activities together. However, with everyone being so busy, exercise can be a great way to incorporate physical activity with quality family time. Exercising as a family has many benefits including improved health, increased self-esteem, and opportunities for deepening connections. By promoting an active lifestyle in your program, you are helping families get fit and have fun together.
You and your staff can promote an active lifestyle for families by providing resources that suggest ways to include daily exercise that are not costly or time intensive. Starting a fitness committee that plans activity-related events is one idea. In Lesson One, you had the opportunity to rate your program using the Healthy Kids Healthy Future Checklist Quiz. As you use that quiz for feedback and planning purposes, you can also use the Healthy Kids, Healthy Future blank Action Plan Worksheet to plan ways to implement best practices around healthy lifestyles in your program: https://healthykidshealthyfuture.org/learn-more/quiz/action-plan/.
Perhaps providing a computer for families to use to access the information while at the program may prove useful. Head Start’s 5-2-1-0 model provides an easy to remember strategy:
- 5: Eat at least five fruits and vegetables a day.
- 2: Keep screen time (like TV, video games, computer) down to two hours or less per day.
- 1: Get one hour or more of physical activity every day.
- 0: Drink 0 sugar-sweetened drinks. Replace soda, sports drinks, and fruit drinks with milk or water.
You can also send ideas home. The Apply section has some wonderful resources for families. One of the best is a simple calendar with ideas for movement every day of the year. These ideas help families build warm memories and lasting relationships while promoting fitness. Consider posting the calendar in your program, too, and using the ideas across settings.
There is a reason that many businesses put fitness facilities in their headquarters or provide discounts on gym memberships. They know that there is a strong relationship between physical activity, productivity, positive morale, and job satisfaction. Workplace physical-activity programs can reduce short-term sick leave by 6 to 32 percent, reduce health-care costs by 20 to 55 percent, and increase productivity by 2 to 52 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By promoting an active lifestyle in your program, you are contributing to the improved health of your employees while lowering costs associated with low productivity and illness.
You can promote an active lifestyle for staff members by encouraging them to include small amounts of physical activity throughout their day. Perhaps challenge staff to get the suggested 10,000 steps per day and reward those who do so each month with a healthy potluck.
Your program plays a pivotal role in promoting good health, not only for today, but for years to come. The research is clear: Regular exercise dramatically impacts health. Encourage active, healthy lifestyles by looking for ways to support staff, children, and families in their efforts toward a healthier lifestyle.
A great way to disseminate information and promote an active lifestyle is to organize a fitness fair. Bringing in experts who can provide demonstrations and resources to children, families and staff is a great way to get everyone energized. In fact, there might be fitness experts among staff or families whose skills and knowledge you can utilize.
Review the following Resources for Families that help promote physical activity at home and in the community. Take some time to visit the resources and decide whether you could use any in your work.
Action for Healthy Kids. (2019). Game on activity library. https://www.actionforhealthykids.org/game-on-activity-library/
Action for Healthy Kids. (2019). Tip sheets: Before and after school activities. https://www.actionforhealthykids.org/references/
Child Care Aware (2020). Health Resources and Links. Retrieved from https://www.childcareaware.org/library/
Let’s Move Initiative (2014). Retrieved from https://letsmove.obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/
The National Center On Health: NCH http://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/hslc/tta-system/health
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (1996). Physical Activity and Health: A report of the Surgeon General. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/sgr/pdf/sgrfull.pdf