Health in Action A Family that Prays, Eats Right & Exercises Together

by SHARON D. ALLISON-OTTEY, M.D.

But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. Joshua 24:15

Most Christian parents understand their responsibility to “train up a child in the way that he/she should go” (Proverbs 22:6) and are usually committed to providing for their children\’s needs; and, as Christian adults who are still someone\’s child, many embrace the charge by God to take care of our aging parents and loved ones (1 Timothy 5:3-4). Further, as spouses we understand our role in providing, nurturing and being a partner to our mate. However, although financial support is important, health and wellness should be at the core of our concerns for our families.

Here are five key questions:
1. Have you ever exercised with your children or spouse (no matter what their ages)?
Do you know all of the medications that your parents are taking, both over the counter and prescribed? Do you know the name of their physician?

2. Has your spouse undergone an annual physical exam, is he/she up to date on recommended health screenings and medications?

3. Do you, your spouse and your parents have a living will?

4. Are your children\’s vaccinations up to date? If your children are in college, have they been vaccinated against meningitis and other potential threats?

5. These are simple questions that I must admit even I had trouble answering. (I immediately called my parents and updated their medication lists). If you focus on social activities and spending time with family members, take the next step and concern yourself with their healthcare. The health of each family member is vital! In addition to church activities, take a second look at how your family eats and exercises.

Here are some general recommendations to maintain healthy families.

Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains every day. Limit foods and drinks high in calories, sugar, salt, fat, and alcohol. Eat a balanced diet to help keep a healthy weight.

Be active for at least 21⁄2 hours a week. Include activities that raise your breathing and heart rates and strengthen your muscles. Help kids and teens be active for at least 1 hour a day. Include activities that raise their breathing and heart rates and strengthen their muscles and bones.

Wear helmets, seat belts, sunscreen, and insect repellent. Wash hands to stop the spread of germs. Avoid smoking and breathing other people\’s smoke. Build safe and healthy relationships with family and friends. Be ready for emergencies. Make a supply kit. Make a plan.

Be informed.

Get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Make sure kids get more, based on their age. Ask your doctor or nurse how you can lower your chances for health problems based on your lifestyle and personal and family health histories.
Find out what exams, tests, and shots you need and when to get them.

Children aren\’t the only ones that need vaccinations, make sure that you are getting your Tetanus boosters, flu vaccines and other recommended immunizations.

See your doctor as often as he or she says to do so. See him or her sooner if you feel sick, have pain, notice changes, or have problems with medicine. Write down all of your medications including over the counter products, herbal products and supplements that you take on a regular basis. Keep this list in your wallet or purse and give a copy to a family member.

Talk with your close and extended family members about your family history. It is a great idea to create a family health tree and to share it. Create a family health history online. Review your health insurance policy as well as other important documents such as living will.

Talk to your family about your wishes in case of a major health challenge or accident and put it in writing.

BODY BASICS
Healthy Family Traditions for YOU to start now!

Schedule at least one activity that requires physical activity at least twice a month with your family and/or spouse. Ideas: tag football, basketball, bowling, a brisk walk in a park. Be creative in “revamping” traditional family meals and making them healthier.

For example, fried chicken may taste good but roasted chicken is healthier and can actually taste better! Potato salad with reduced fat mayonnaise saves calories and you don\’t give up taste. Buy cookbooks that feature great foods that are easy to make and good on the lips and the hips!

Spend “couple” time after dinner at least three nights a week that begins with a walk as the weather permits or take up ballroom, hand or salsa dancing. Make physical activity and sporting activities for your kids a family event. Encourage them to play team sports and go to the games as a family.

Making the Most of Your Family\’s Doctor\’s Visits
Write down your questions and health issues. Make sure that you are aware of the screenings and recommendations for your gender, age and race.

Keep an up to date record of children\’s vaccination/immunizations.

Parents and relatives who are older may need you to go to their doctor\’s appointments with them. Maintain a written list of all of their medications and doctors (including specialists). Healthcare providers should know that family members are involved in their care.
Be a partner in your healthcare, be armed with questions and write down information. A great tool is “Ask Me 3”. Ask Me 3 promotes three simple but essential questions that patients should ask their providers in every health care interaction:

What is my main problem? What do I need to do? Why is it important for me to do this?
God desires for us to be spiritually, mentally and physically healthy. For more information and resources,
visit www.cdc.gov,www.askme3.org and www.drsharononline.com.

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