Healthy Abbotsford Blog

Sitting Down can Improve your Health?

That’s right. Sitting down with your family to eat dinner can improve your health. In the article “Why Families Who Eat Together Are Healthier” the researchers found that when families ate together:

  • kids ate more fruits, vegetables, fiber, calcium-rich foods, and vitamins, and ate less junk food.
  • teens were more likely to show fewer signs of depression and felt that their family was more supportive, compared with teens who dined less often at home.

To read the complete article, click here.

Why Families Who Eat Together Are HealthierWhy Families Who Eat Together Are Healthier

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Forget the Tutor – a Bike Ride may Help your Kid’s Grades More

The following article is from www.hastebc.org:

How do you get your kid’s brain working at its best? Take a “Tiger Mother” approach, with academic drills and strict expectations? A private tutor? Before breaking out the flash cards, maybe you should start instead by lacing up your sneakers and taking your kid out for a run.

Physical exercise is a powerful way to enhance brain function. Research with animals has long suggested that aerobic exercise, in particular, enhances blood flow throughout the brain. It also stimulates the release of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which encourages the growth of new brain cells and neural connections, especially in regions involved in learning and cognitive processing. Neuroscientists have only recently confirmed that exercise induces similar neuroplastic changes within the human brain, including those of children.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

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Counting Calories is Old School

There are a ton of smart phone apps these days designed to help you eat better. Most of them have the same overall concept, calorie counting. For some people calorie counting works really well, for others it doesn’t. Now there is a new app out there, that is FREE, that helps you eat healthier WITHOUT counting calories. Here are some of the things that I think are really unique about it:

  • it helps you identify eating patterns and trends. You may discover that you always turn to junk food at 3pm on Wednesdays. That could be really interesting to know, what is it about that day and time that gets you turning to junk food?
  • it enrolls your friends to help hold you accountable. You post what you eat so there is no hiding from the world what is going in your mouth. We know that people who write down what they eat tend to eat healthier because once it is written down you can’t hide from it. Imagine the impact if all your friends knew what you were eating!

The way the app works is that you take pictures of the food you eat, rate how healthy you think it is, post it and then others can rate how healthy they think it is. So a challenge is that you (and the other people who are rating your food) need to have a certain amount of knowledge around what ingredients are in the food you are eating so you know if it is healthy or not.

Is this app for everyone, no. But if you are looking for a different way to track your eating and be held accountable for your choices it’s worth checking out.

For more information watch the video below or click here.

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Don’t Waste the Long Weekend!

With the long weekend approaching, what are your plans? Don’t wait to think about until Saturday morning and risk wasting time with the “what do you want to do?”, “I don’t know, what do you want to do?” game. Get out, have some fun. Use this extra time to explore our city with your friends and families. Make some memories!

The 2012 guide “107 Days of Summer” is now available. Take a look through, you are bound to find a few things that spark your interest.

Summer will be over before you know it, don’t waste it.

cover of 107 days of summer brochure

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Biking – Keep your Kids Safe

Many parents do not let their kids walk or ride their bikes to school on their own out of fear that something might happen to them. Here is an excerpt from the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition from their Cycling and Schools position paper that may give you some perspective on the safety of your kids riding to school:

Perception of or the lack of safety is the #1 reason parents currently prevent their children from riding to and from school. Ironically, the vehicle congestion around schools poses the greatest risk to students. Fortunately, serious accidents involving child cyclists are rare and much less common than those involving child pedestrians or car passengers. Surveys show that one in three parents would like to see cycle training in schools. Traffic free cycle routes were twice as popular with parents as cycle lanes on roads.

The risks of cycling are dwarfed by the health risks of lack of exercise. Children need safe routes to bike to school. In just one generation, the percentage of children who walk or bike to school has dropped 75%, while the number of overweight children has tripled. A recent bike survey indicated that over 30% of students would like to cycle to school, nine out of ten own bikes and currently less than 4% cycle to school.

Click here for a list of practical things that you can do to keep your child safe on their way to school.

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Biking to School – Start a Bicycle Train!

Parents are often concerned about the safety of their children riding their bikes to school. As a result, many parents drive their kids to school. This creates more traffic and pollution around the school and less physical activity for the child. What if you could create a safer way for your child to bike to school? You can, start a bicycle train!

Getting to school isn’t normally something that kids would consider fun. Let’s change that! Kids need to move their bodies and what better time to do that than on the way to school where they will be sitting for the next 6-7 hours?

Start a walking school bus or Bicycle Train and provide a safe alternative to driving and allow children to incorporate physical activity into their day.

A Walking School Bus or Bicycle Train is a group of kids walking or cycling to school with one or more adults. It can be informally planned when two or three families take turns walking or cycling with their children to school or it might be a more formally developed and organized program with specific stops, specific participants and volunteer Walking School Bus or Bicycle Train leaders.

For tips on how to start a Bicycle Train or a Walking School Bus click here.

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Biking to School – Safety Tips

Bike to School week is May 14-18. Here are some safety tips from www.hastebc.org to keep in mind when you or your kids are on your bikes.

List of bicycle safety tips

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Bike to School Week Starts on Monday!

Bike to School week is May 14-18. According to a position paper published by HUB: Your Cycling Connection here are some of the reasons why we need to encourage kids to ride their bikes safely to school:

1. A biking to school program has the best potential to enhance the quality of life in the community. Promoting cycling has been proven to improve all aspects of health, community, environment and business. Parents who bike to school with their children get to be sociable.

2. Young people currently face an overall decrease in daily physical activity, poorer air quality, higher rates of childhood obesity, riskier traffic conditions and a loss of independence and skills development. The common denominator is the over-reliance on automobile travel. Getting children out of the back of the family car and on to safe bikeways can substantially improve their quality of life as well as that of their friends and neighbours.

3. Cycling is fun, healthy and inexpensive. Riding allows you to feel active and energetic while reducing stress and anxiety and increases academic potential as the brain works better with exercise.

4. One bike can travel up to 1,030 kilometers on the energy equivalent to a litre of gasoline. Cycling to and from school saves each family over $1,000.00 in transportation costs and over 500 kilograms of greenhouse gas emissions each year. These emissions are especially harmful to children.

5. Approximately 10% of children walk to school regularly and less than 2% bike to school regularly. Even among children living within a kilometer of their school, only 25% are regular walkers. Elementary and secondary students should accumulate at least 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity from a variety of activities all or most days of the week.

6. Children, who are limited in their independent mobility, fall behind in personal and social development in comparison to children with more freedom of movement. Research has shown that independent mobility and being able to be outdoors without supervision is essential and that spatial awareness and understanding of how the world is structured is increased by independent travel.

Click here to read the full position paper.

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What to do in an Emergency – There’s an App for that

Part of keeping your family healthy is keeping them safe. Public Safety Canada has created a mobile site where you can access information on your smart phone in the case of a variety of emergencies. There is information on what to do during a:

  • blizzard
  • earthquake
  • hurricane
  • chemical release
  • flood
  • ice storm
  • power outage
  • thunderstorm
  • tornado
  • tsunami
  • wildfire
  • evacuation

Bookmark www.m.getprepared.gc.ca in your smart phone so if you find yourself in an emergency situation you can find out what to do.

screen shot of the get prepared mobile site

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Creating an Emergency Plan

Part of keeping your family healthy is keeping them safe. This short video from www.getprepared.gc.ca highlights some  of the important things you need to think about when putting together your emergency plan. As the video says, “by definition, emergencies happen when we don’t expect them.” Make sure that you and your family are safe in an emergency, take 20 minutes this week and create your emergency plan.

For a free copy of “Your emergency preparedness guide” click here.

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