LaGRANGE — Parents don’t need a degree in nutrition or exercise science to raise healthy kids, but sometimes they might need a boost to help their families adapt to wiser food choices and a more active lifestyle.
A new free class offered by WellStar West Georgia Medical Center aims to do just that. Mark McCloud, a WellStar WGMC fitness trainer, and Sarah Ludwick, a WellStar WGMC registered dietitian, invites parents and kids to join them from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday for the free “Meet the Nutritionist and Fitness Trainer” session on the plaza of the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce.
“With the wonderful weather we’re having this spring, it’s a great time to help ease you and your kids into a more active routine,” said McCloud, who also is WGMC’s speech pathologist. “As you begin making small changes to get their bodies moving, it’s a good time also to make healthier food choices and to get your children involved in learning how to do so as well.”
Ludwick said she looks forward to talking with area kids and their parents about how food choices affect their health.
“Healthy habits are most easily established early in life, so working with kids and families to make healthy changes together is a great opportunity to set up children for a healthy adulthood,” she said. “I love seeing kids’ faces when they learn the connection between foods and how their bodies work. My previous experiences have shown me that when families work to make more nutritious choices, kids gain energy, self-confidence and healthier bodies.”
After Ludwick shares with parents and kids how they can make healthy food choices, McCloud will get kids moving with a fun workout as he shares with them ways they can incorporate more physical activity into their everyday routines.
“Teens and younger kids need at least 60 minutes of exercise per day, and preschoolers and toddlers need even more,” McCloud said. “It makes their bones and muscles stronger and bodies leaner, which helps to control body fat. They’ll be less likely to develop type 2 diabetes, and it will help them have normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
“Exercising and eating healthy food can help your child have a more positive outlook on life. They will tend to sleep better and can handle emotional and physical challenges better.”
With one in five children and adolescents being obese in the United States, Ludwick said extra weight can lead to health problems that used to be considered mainly adult issues.
“In addition to type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels, breathing problems or asthma can stem from a child’s excessive weight,” she said. “Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea can affect children who are obese, and they can begin puberty earlier than what is considered normal. A child who is obese also can become depressed and suffer from low self-esteem.”
The two urge parents, though, to remember that just because their children are not obese doesn’t mean they don’t need to worry about exercise or healthy eating.
“People teach your kids to be careful with sharp objects, not to walk out in front of a car, not to talk to strangers,” McCloud said. “As parents, we do everything we can to protect our children from harm. That’s why it’s so important to empower them with healthy habits and knowledge when it comes to eating and exercise. We’re hurting our children when we let them eat whatever they want and when we don’t encourage them to get off the sofa and away from their phones and other electronic devices.
“Sarah and I are both very low-key and caring in our approach to encouraging families to make healthy eating and exercise fun and how to incorporate healthy habits into their everyday lives,” he said. “We truly are excited for this chance to share what we know with our community.”
The free session is open to parents, other caregivers and their school-age children ages 4 and up. To register, contact McCloud at [email protected] or 706-845-3862.
From a press release submitted by WellStar West Georgia Medical Center. Submit your organization’s press release to editor Matthew Strother at [email protected]