Supporting families in creating healthy home environments



Smiling family

With one in three children in the nation obese or overweight and diabetes rates expected to rise dramatically over the next several decades, the imperative to help and support families sustain healthy lifestyles is as great as ever. Finding time for regular physical activity, eating healthy food, and finding supportive environments and relationships all have an impact on the health and well-being of children, adults, families and the communities where they live.

I can tell you that every day, in Ys across the country, we see and hear about the challenges families face. We know that busy families may feel many barriers to engaging in healthy lifestyles – anything ranging from long work hours, to overscheduled kids, and neighborhoods that are just unsafe for walking and playing.  Taking small steps and making incremental changes toward incorporating healthy activities into family routines so they don’t seem cumbersome or overwhelming can be a solution to overcome some barriers. 

Healthy Family HomeTM , a YMCA initiative, helps families adopt and maintain healthy behaviors like being more physically active by providing them with fun, simple and engaging activities that they can build into their daily schedules. Healthy Family Home is based on five pillars that support a healthy family home: Eat Healthy; Play Every Day; Get Together; Go Outside; and, Sleep Well. The physical activity component – Play Every Day – focuses on things families can do together.  And it doesn’t matter what the activity is, it’s just about getting moving and being together.


The Y understands that healthy living begins at home. It’s important that families create environments that support healthy behaviors but we know that this is sometimes easier said than done. At the Y, we’ve made an intentional effort to support all individuals who struggle to adopt and maintain healthy lifestyles. So in addition to the many programs aimed at getting kids and families active inside the walls of the Y – Healthy Family Home helps to ensure that families are equipped to take what they’ve learned at the Y home with them. But you don’t have to be a Y member to reap the benefits.  Families who have never even stepped foot in a YMCA can learn how to engage their families in healthy lifestyles by visiting


What we’ve learned is that parents want to create healthy environments, but they often don’t know how to make it happen in their home. And a one-size-fits all strategy isn’t going to work for all families. As professionals, we can help guide, support families and provide them with the tools and resources to apply what they’ve learned when they are at home and we aren’t around. 


What do you think of Healthy Family Home?   For more information about Healthy Family Home, visit:

How might you help families that you work with adopt and maintain healthy habits?