It might seem that kids learn more from what we do than from what we say.  If that’s the case, setting a good example when it comes to staying healthy and eating right in a child’s formative years might set them on a pathway to healthy living for decades to come.

Showing your children how to maintain a healthy lifestyle might mean making some changes in your own lifestyle. The good news is that it will benefit everyone in your family. Here are some thoughts on how to do it:

1. Talk About It

Make the decision to eat healthy and exercise a part of the conversation in your home. If your children grow up hearing discussions about choosing healthy snacks or making time to exercise, it’s more likely that they will adopt those same strategies in their own lives.

2. Take Them With You

Go to the park and jog, and take the kids with you. Let them see you exercising and the lesson will sink in even deeper. Simply walking to the park or riding bikes will give them the understanding of the importance of exercise. If you go to the gym, take the kids with you and either drop them at the nursery if they’re young or, if they’re older, let them work out with you.

3. Use Words They Understand

Sometimes it seems you need a science degree to understand the complexities of dieting and eating right, so imagine how difficult it would be for a child. Take the time to explain easy-to-understand concepts like portion size, the value of fruits and vegetables, and the body’s need for certain nutrients.

4. Get Them Moving

It’s essential to carve out time during each day for exercise, and there are many ways to accomplish it. You don’t have to have a gym membership or a workout room in your basement. All you need is a good pair of sneakers and time. You can take the kids running, kick a soccer ball, or throw a Frisbee to work up a sweat and spend quality time together. The key is to do something every day.

5. Make Use of Time

How much time do we spend sitting on the couch watching television? More than we’d like to admit. Take advantage of the downtime by working in some push-ups, sit-ups, and stretching. You can even make it a game by challenging your children to do more than you can.

6. Take Them Shopping

Involve your children in the food shopping process. When you’re walking through the grocery store explain why you buy the foods that you buy in terms of health value. You can also allow them to select food items that are healthy. It might also be beneficial to explain the value of organic foods and other healthier options.

7. Challenge Them

Ask your children to discover a healthy meal and help you make it. Promise your child a special reward if they can exercise 30 minutes a day for a week. Allow them to choose one or two healthy snacks to put in their lunchbox each day. If you give your children an incentive or involve them in the process of healthy living, chances are they’ll embrace it.

8. Watch Your Eating Habits

Our go-to comfort food might be a bag of chips or a bowl of ice cream. Don’t be fooled. Our children see that and pick up on it. Before you know it, they’re asking for the same unhealthy snacks. If you want your children to eat better, you must set the example. Pick up a piece of fruit or snack on some veggies instead of that unhealthy choice and not only will you feel better but your children will learn the value of healthy eating.

Another important part of establishing a healthy lifestyle for your children is making regular doctor and dental visits. We expect our children to be seen by a physician or dentist but sometimes we put it off for ourselves. Make sure you also make those doctor appointments and explain to your children why they are so vital to healthy living.