By Dawnavan Davis, Ph.D., –
Director of Health Promotions at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City –
At Blue KC, we believe good health starts with individuals and we help people, like you, take charge of their health by giving them the tools to start living healthier lives. Working together, we can create a healthier community, one family at a time. We’re doing our part by investing millions of dollars into programs that address critical health issues such as childhood obesity. It’s important because one in three children in our community are obese or overweight. They’re the first generation that, unless something is done to reverse the trend, will have shorter life spans than their parents. But we can’t reverse the trend by ourselves. We need you to take responsibility to improve your family’s health.
Enjoy Outdoor Activities Like Walking
As the days get warmer and longer, commit to outdoor activities like walking. In Kansas City, we’re lucky to have more than 200 public parks at our disposal. Find one near your house and reduce stress and increase your family’s health by walking to the park and playing together on the swings or shooting some hoops. A complete guide to all the parks and playgrounds in Kansas City can be found under the Parks and Recreation tab on www.kcmo.org.
Jumping Rope is a Great Workout
Another possibility for incorporating some movement into your daily routine is something you probably haven’t done since you were a kid. Jumping rope is a great workout—20 minutes of rope jumping equals one hour of aerobics—and you can get your whole family involved. Have a contest to see who can jump the longest without missing a beat and entertain your kids with jump-rope songs from your childhood.
Learn a New Sport
Spring is also a great time to learn a new sport. Have you always wanted to learn to play tennis? Pick up a couple of rackets at a garage sale, enlist a willing friend and find a court near your house.
Your form may not rival that of Serena Williams but you’ll have fun while burning calories and getting into shape. Or pick up a soccer ball and ask your kids to teach you to “bend it like Beckham.” Don’t forget to consult your doctor before starting any exercise program.
Teach Kids About Fruits and Veggies by Visiting a Farmers’ Market
April is also the month that a lot of farmers’ markets will be reopening. They offer the opportunity to teach your children about how farmers cultivate our food supply while exposing them to new fruits and vegetables. Encourage your kids to pick out one fruit or veggie they’ve never tried and ask the farmer what he likes about it or what’s his favorite way to eat it. It’s a great way to get your kids excited about vegetables while finding new ways to enjoy them. A list of farmers’ markets can be found at www.kcfoodcircle.org.
If you’re looking for ways to stretch your SNAP/EBT dollars, look for the Beans and Greens van at the farmers’ market. The Beans and Greens program will double your SNAP/EBT dollars at participating markets and twice as many fruits and veggies in your family’s diet is a very good thing! Find more information about Beans and Greens on their website, www.beansandgreens.org.
Plant Vegetables Together
Are you feeling ambitious? This is the time to plant vegetables for summer harvest. Tomato plants can be grown in containers and require little care beyond basic weeding and watering. Sugar snap peas will grow up a fence and are fun for kids to eat right off the vine (be sure to wash them first if you’ve used fertilizers or pesticides). Bell peppers come in all sorts of fun colors and get sweeter the longer you let them ripen.
Healthy Habits Now Make for Healthier Lives
Later Whatever you choose to do, use April as a springboard to a better and healthier life! Healthy habits now make for healthier lives later, and that’s something we can all live with! As the area’s only local, not-for-profit health insurer, Blue KC has always made the health and wellness of Kansas City’s families a priority.
To learn more about these and other healthy programs, please visit www.BlueKC.com.
Dr. Dawnavan Davis is the Director of Health Promotions at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City, where she is charged with developing and implementing evidence-based health promotion programs in
the areas of childhood obesity prevention and treatment. Dr. Davis received her B.A. from Loyola College of Maryland in Psychology, M.S. in Community Health Education from Towson University, and doctoral degree in Medical Psychology from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. Dr. Davis is a medical psychologist and obesity researcher, with more than 15 years of experience in community health education, research, and obesity program development and execution, receiving numerous academic and service awards in these areas. Dr. Davis has been an invited presenter at numerous national and international conferences, given her novel and innovative approaches to address childhood obesity and racial disparities in health.
Prior to joining Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City, Dr. Davis was a Research Assistant Professor of Medicine and the Director of the Community-Based Research Program at the University of Chicago-Department of Medicine. During her tenure in Chicago, Dr. Davis founded A.C.T.S of F.A.I.T.H., a faith-based health equity non-profit organization.