Healthy Living: A Family Affair What’s the secret to a lifetime of wellness? Making a family pact to live healthy lifestyles together.

Issac and family

Kids don’t always seem like they’re paying attention, but they follow their parents’ lead when it comes to wellness. “Children who see their parents enjoying exercise and participating in a healthy lifestyle are more likely to adopt those habits,” says Donna Wyatt, M.D., family practice physician at CHRISTUS Primary Care Associates in South Bossier. “If kids practice healthy habits now, they are likely to continue them into adulthood.”

That’s good news for local families. Many top health concerns, including heart disease, high blood pressure, sleep apnea and diabetes, can be prevented by staying active, eating well and maintaining a healthy weight. Here, Isaac Palmer, chief executive officer at CHRISTUS Health Shreveport-Bossier, and his wife, Sybil, share their tips for keeping their family of five feeling great.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults perform a moderate-intensity exercise, such as walking or running, for at least 150 minutes each week and complement that with twice-weekly strength-training sessions. Kids should be active for at least 60 minutes every day. Walking, bike riding, playing volleyball and having an indoor dance party top the Palmers’ list of favorite family activities.

“Healthy kids are mentally and physically active,” Isaac says. “We don’t like to see our kids sitting in front of the television, so we make a point to have plenty of sports equipment around the house, including a basketball rim, soccer goal and volleyball net, to keep them busy outside.”

Eat Fresh, Not Processed

The Palmers enjoy fruit with breakfast and lunch and try to eat at least one green vegetable with dinner. One of their favorite easy-to-make meals is “haystacks” — a taco salad consisting of chili, corn chips and plenty of lettuce and freshly chopped veggies. Sybil also keeps bottled water and healthy snacks on hand, including carrots, nuts, raisins, apples and peaches.

"You have to decide that wellness is a priority for your family,” Sybil says. “Once you make that decision, healthy choices become easier.”