It’s far too easy, when you are young, to ignore your health and indulge in all of life’s vices. Unlike an older body, a younger body can easily bounce back from unhealthy choices, but this doesn’t mean those bad choices aren’t hurting your wellbeing. In fact, the health decisions that you make when you are young will stay with you for the rest of your life, especially if you don’t make any changes in your lifestyle as you get older.
According to studies cited by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, physical inactivity increases the risk of dying prematurely from diseases like colon cancer, diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. An increased risk of disease and illness is also associated with eating a poor diet, and these consequences apply to everyone…even young children.
Studies like these highlight the importance of encouraging your children to pursue and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Although it wouldn’t be helpful to force changes upon your child, there are ways to guide them down the right path. It’s isn’t always easy to choose health over convenience and short-term satisfaction, but by discussing the following four issues with your kids, you may be able to help them understand why taking care of their health is so important.
Good Health Will Help You Succeed in Life
Although success doesn’t require that you be healthy, it sure doesn’t hurt the cause. It’s not easy to work 40 hours (or more) every week when you don’t eat well, don’t exercise and don’t get enough sleep. Sure, the majority of people do this, but one look at the health statistics of our nation and you’ll see that we aren’t winning that battle. Our workforce is lethargic, depressed and uninspired, and one of the reasons why is because we don’t do what’s best for our health. Explain this to your child, and discuss more reasons why it is easier to achieve life goals when you are healthy and strong.
Learn by Example
There is probably an elderly member of your family or a family friend who can be used as an example of good or poor health. Point them out to your child and ask your child to observe the consequences (whether positive or negative) of this particular person’s health choices. Learning by example is an age-old method that can be very effective. Too often, young people ignore the elderly. By making your children aware of the effects of growing older, you could change their minds about their own lifestyle choices.
Health Care Isn’t Cheap
When you are young, you are completely oblivious to the costs and implications of having good health care. Once your child reaches an age where they can understand the concept, find a moment to explain it to them. Show them how your insurance plan works, and share with them the costs associated with premiums, co-pays and co-insurance. Then explain to them how maintaining a healthy lifestyle can save money on insurance premiums and out-of-pocket health care costs.
It’s Not Fun to Be Sick
It’s so easy to forget about how you felt the last time you fell ill with the flu or caught a cold from your friend. Being sick is not fun. It can keep you from doing the things you want to do in life; even the simple things. Remind your child of a time when they felt ill. This will help them better understand the difference between feeling well and feeling ill and will hopefully make them see why they shouldn’t take their health for granted.
Another great way to communicate the importance of being grateful for (and maintaining) your health is to ask your child to be mindful and supportive of those who are currently suffering from illness and disease. Teach them about compassion and community service, and encourage them to volunteer at local hospitals, nursing homes and other health care facilities.
Lastly, leading by your own example is always the best foundation for whatever life lesson you want to teach. Try your best to live by the same values you instill in your children, and the chances of your child maintaining those values will be very likely.
Brenda Watson is a researcher/writer for HealthInsuranceQuotes.org. Her articles cover topics ranging from how to find the best insurance for you or your family to advice on personal health and fitness. In her spare time, Brenda enjoys running in the park and watching The X Factor. Feel free to leave your comments and questions for her below!