The COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult for many kids and adults and may have affected the quality of their physical and mental health.
“Physical health is affected by emotional health, and vice versa,” said SSM Health Dean Medical Group – Janesville East Family Medicine provider Dr. Benjamin Banks. “It’s really important that we talk about both.”
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data shows that approximately 13% of children ages 2-5, 20% of children 6-11, and 21% of children ages 12-19, are obese. Adult obesity is also worsening.
“Obesity can cause a multitude of health issues, including higher risk of increased blood pressure and heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, breathing problems, joint problems and more,” Dr. Banks said.
To help everyone stay physically healthy, parents should encourage smart eating habits for their family.
“This includes working fruits and vegetables into the meal plan, limiting processed food items as much as possible, and drinking lots of water instead of sugary beverages,” Dr. Banks said.
Encouraging physical activity is vital, and exercising is an important lifelong habit to form.
“Exercise also promotes emotional well-being, as it releases endorphins, a type of hormone which help us to feel better,” Dr. Banks said.
Anxiety and depression can affect children, just as it does adults. It’s important that families have lots of heart-to-heart discussions to make sure everyone is truly doing okay.
To encourage emotional health, families should focus on the same healthy habits as mentioned above, and also place an emphasis on talking.
“Even choosing two nights a week to have a dinner without TV or cell phones can encourage vital conversations to take place,” Dr. Banks said.
Setting a consistent bed time routine and getting a good night’s rest is also a way to ensure everyone is feeling their best each day.
“Being well-rested can help everyone to better deal with stressors that occur throughout the day,” Dr. Banks said.
Any families that feel they need additional support for anxiety or depression should reach out to their primary care provider right away. There are resources available to help.
For more healthy living tips, visit https://www.cdc.gov/healthyliving/ .
Individuals and families who need to find a primary care physician, or set up an appointment, should visit www.ssmhealth.com/find-a-doctor .
Guest Author: Dr. Benjamin Banks – Janesville East Family Medicine provider