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2019 Reflection

As I reflect on 2019, I find it fitting that we are coming up on our ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY just after the holidays.

I am so grateful to the citizens of Fort Mill, SC for the continued support of my little practice throughout the year.

Two years ago, New South Family Medicine didn’t even have a name.  It wasn’t a blip on my radar.  As I looked at how I want to practice medicine, the Direct Primary Care model came more into focus.  The shape of my family medicine practice looked very different than my experiences in large practices in the past.

While I am grateful for my time practicing in Charlotte, I knew I could create something different  for Fort Mill – more personal, more accessible , and more transparent.  To no end, it would frustrate both my patients and me to feel “in the dark” about the cost of healthcare.

One small business at a time, DPC is changing that.

Prior to owning my practice, I could not have imagined the grit and determination it would take to own a small business.  Now that I do, I have such respect for those out there working so hard to build their niche.  I’ve loved this adventure and the people I have met along the way, but it is not for the faint of heart!!  I am so grateful to have a loving, supportive family that joins me as I venture out into my community to spread the word.

In May of this year, I had the opportunity to get started in aesthetic medicine too!  Learning and growing medical aesthetics with Botox and Juvederm fillers has been super fun and has allowed my creative side to flourish.  I’m excited to add more to that in 2020.

In October I joined up with the national Walk With A Doc program and started our own Fort Mill chapter!  We have set out to bring monthly walks to Kingsley Town Center.  I am thrilled to have more community partners join me in 2020 for even more fun!  Check out our page to learn more!

Fort Mill, South Carolina

Thank you to each and every person out there that has supported us.  I want this practice to grow organically.  I want people to experience a different type of healthcare and I hope my patients have.

2019 has been a year of growth, both professionally and personally.  I am constantly humbled and grateful for the lessons I have learned this year.

We hope all of you have a happy and healthy 2020 and look forward to staying involved in the community, learning from each of you, and keeping our town healthy.

Cheers to each of you,

Dr. Jessica

Time for your Flu Shot!

Did you know flu season is here??

Flu season is quickly approaching and we need to discuss PREVENTION and appropriate treatments!  The best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated EVERY YEAR!  The Centers for Disease Control talks about the three actions we can all take to protect ourselves and others against flu.

Lets take a dive into what we can collectively do to keep each other healthy!


Everyone over the age of 6 months should get a flu vaccine each year, especially those that are high risk (we will talk about who is at high risk and who should not get a flu shot below).  Getting vaccinated has a lot of benefits – it reduces illness, doctor’s visits, time away from school and work and, most importantly, flu-related hospitalizations and deaths.  A very important 2017 study done by the CDC showed that vaccination decreases these complications by more than HALF!!!  That’s huge!

  1. Healthy Habits to Prevent Spread

Did I mention to get vaccinated??!!  Its also very important to use regular hygiene such as covering your cough, sneezing into your elbow, and HAND WASHING to help stop the spread of germs in general.

Avoid close contact with people who are sick and, when you are sick, please stay home!  Multiple viruses and bacteria are spread through coughing, sneezing, and touching each other – not just flu!  In the cold, we tend to gather inside, which means it is easier to spread illnesses such as RSV, whooping cough and the common cold as well!

WASH YOUR HANDS!  Lather soap and wring hands together for one minute to effectively kill germs.  If no hand-washing is available, use a alcohol-based hand sanitizer.  Come on in to New South Family Medicine and grab one!  We have plenty!

Make sure to disinfect touched surfaces at home, work and school, get plenty of rest, hydrate, stay active, manage your stress and eat nutritious foods!!

  1. Treatment

There are anti-viral medications available if one tests positive for the flu.  In most cases, it is not necessary to test or use anti-virals to diagnose and treat.  If you get sick, stay home, stay hydrated and avoid contact with others to prevent spread.

High Risk Groups , however, such as someone with cancer, asthma, diabetes, heart disease, young children or adults age 65 and older, are more likely to suffer complications.  We reserve anti-viral drugs for these patients, to try to decrease their illness time and prevent hospitalization.  At any point, if you aren’t sure about your illness, call Dr. Mendelsohn and Helen and we will guide you through your treatment options!

 There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about the flu vaccine. 

We know that the flu vaccine is not 100% failsafe.  We know that you can still contract a different strain of flu virus after getting the vaccine. There are many strains of flu viruses that spread and cause illness. The vaccine is “matched” each year to prevent the most likely strains, but it cannot cover all of them.  Just like we still get into accidents when we wear our seatbelts (especially on highway 160 in Fort Mill), it is less likely for us to get severely injured or hospitalized if we take proper precautions, but we can’t prevent every driver from accidents.

The flu vaccine CANNOT cause the flu.  The vaccine used to produce an immune response is either a killed virus or just part of the virus, therefore, not the full virus capable of multiplying and causing illness.  Most common side effects are soreness at the injection site and redness.  One can also get a low-grade fever, body and muscle aches or fatigue, but these are not as common.  Remember, we are mostly inside during colder months, so we pass along many other respiratory viral illnesses and bacteria that are also very common and take a week or two to multiply and cause symptoms.

So who should not get the flu vaccine?  There aren’t too many people that should avoid the flu shot.  Children younger than 6 months and people with severe, life-threatening allergies to the vaccine or any of its ingredients should avoid the flu shot.

So what about egg allergy?  As of the 2016-2017 flu season, the CDC recommends a flu vaccine for anyone that has a mild to moderate egg allergy.  If one can eat lightly cooked eggs, eggs in baked products, or hives after egg exposure, that person can safely receive a flu vaccine.  If someone has a more severe allergy, such as vomiting or difficulty breathing requiring an Epipen, they can still get a flu shot under a medically licensed physician’s supervision.

The CDC has a ton of information on the flu virus, vaccine and prevention.  We will follow the flu season together and treat appropriately.  While I am not offering flu vaccines this year, I have attached a list of local pharmacies in Fort Mill that provide affordable vaccines.  The York County and Mecklenburg County Health Departments are also excellent resources for vaccines.  I appreciate your patience as we work through this first year.  Our family medicine practice is growing and I hope to be able to offer flu and other vaccines in the near future!!!



ALL WALMARTS                  $39.88 FOR QUAD FLU

PUBLIX                                   $45.00 FOR QUAD FLU (and $10 gift card)

HARRIS TEETER                    $40.00 FOR QUAD FLU

CVS                                          $32.00 FOR QUAD FLU

TARGET                                 $32.00 FOR QUAD FLU (and $5 gift card)

WALGREENS                      $36.00 FOR QUAD FLU





Anatomy of a Healthy Plate- Guest Blogger Rebecca Gray

Take a moment to review the above plate. Then take a moment to reflect on your unique plate. How closely does your current diet and lifestyle reflect the above plate? What similarities do you notice? What differences do you see?

Industry standards and busy lifestyles have shifted the modern-day plate to incorporate larger portions, fewer vegetables, and increased amounts of fat and sodium. All which all are considerable contributors to weight gain, obesity, and disease. Food Changes Everything!

Food affects your whole being. The saying is true; you are what you eat. Let me explain why food enters the bloodstream, and blood is what creates your cells, tissues, and organs. Food has the power to regenerate the new you!

The world of diets and dietary theories is complicated and can be overwhelming. However, people need to understand what works best for them individually. Eating a diet made of whole foods, and no, not just anything you purchase from the Whole Foods grocery store. I mean more fruits and vegetables, lean protein, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and drinking more water.

Now, forget about how your plate compared and let’s re-learn how to build your plate the healthy way!

Your plate should be made up of mostly vegetables! Specifically, green veggies! Those are the foods most commonly missing in modern diets. Learning to incorporate dark, leafy greens into your diet is essential to establishing a healthy body and immune system. When you nourish yourself with greens, you may naturally crowd out the foods that make you sick. Greens help strengthen the blood and respiratory system. Leafy green vegetables are also high-alkaline foods, which may be beneficial to people exposed to higher amounts of pollution in urban areas.

Nutritionally, greens are high in calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, and vitamins A, C, and K. They are loaded with fiber, folic acid, chlorophyll, and many other micro-nutrients and phytochemicals. Although choosing organic is recommended, eating non-organic greens is still preferable to not eating any greens at all!

Some of the proven and possible benefits of consuming dark, leafy greens are:

  • Blood purification
  • Cancer prevention
  • Improved circulation
  • Strengthened immune system
  • Promotion of healthy intestinal flora • Improved liver, gall bladder, also, kidney function
  • Clears congestion, especially in lungs by reducing mucus.

Eating fruit provides excellent health benefits. Fruits provide nutrients vital for health and maintenance of your body. Most fruits are naturally low in fat, sodium, and calories; and are full of sources of many essential nutrients such as potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin C, and folate (folic acid). Diets rich in potassium may help to maintain healthy blood pressure.

Dietary fiber from fruits, as part of an overall healthy diet, helps reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower risk of heart disease. Fiber containing foods such as fruits help provide a feeling of fullness with fewer calories.  Vitamin C is essential for growth and repair of all body tissues, helps heal cuts and wounds, and keeps teeth and gums healthy.

Folate (folic acid) helps the body form red blood cells. Women of childbearing age who may become pregnant should consume adequate folate from foods,

Some of the proven and possible benefits of consuming fruits are:

May reduce the risk of heart disease, including heart attack and stroke.

  • May protect against certain types of cancers.
  • May reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
  • May lower blood pressure, and may also reduce the risk of developing kidney stones and help to decrease bone loss.

Carbohydrates​ ​can​ ​be​ ​confusing and scary to some people. That is mainly because not​ ​all​ ​of them​ ​are​ ​created​ ​equally.​ ​You​ ​find​ ​them​ ​in​ ​the​ ​usual​ ​suspects:​ ​bread,​ ​cereals,​ ​crackers​ ​, and​ ​pasta.​ ​You also​ ​find​ ​them​ ​in​ ​whole​ ​grains,​ ​fruits,​ ​vegetables,​ ​legumes,​ ​beans​ ​, and​ ​dairy.​ ​Your​ ​body​ ​needs carbohydrates​ ​to​ ​function​ ​optimally!  ​The​ healthy ​carbohydrates​ ​you​ ​eat​ ​are​ ​broken​ ​down​ ​into​ ​glucose, which​ ​is​ ​the​ ​primary​ ​fuel​ ​your​ ​body​ ​uses​ ​for​ ​energy​ ​and​ ​to​ ​carry​ ​out​ ​normal​ ​cellular​ ​processes.​ ​We​ ​cannot​ ​live​ ​on​ ​fats​ ​and​ ​proteins​ ​alone​. That is because too​ ​much​ ​time​ ​without​ ​some​ ​carbs​ ​on​ ​your plate​ ​will​ ​leave​ ​you​ ​sluggish,​ ​tired, ​ ​and​ ​inefficient​ ​at​ ​getting​ ​through​ ​the​ ​day. So what kind of grains are best? Complex carbohydrates! I am specifically​ ​talking​ ​about​ ​carbs​ ​that​ ​come​ ​from​ ​ ​whole​ ​grains. Whole grains ​ ​are​ ​made​ ​up​ ​of​ ​​all parts​ ​of​ ​the​ ​grain:​ ​the​ ​​bran​​ ​(the​ ​fiber-rich​ ​outer​ ​layer),​ ​the​ ​​endosperm​​ ​(the​ ​middle​ ​section)​ ​and​ ​the germ​​ ​(the​ ​nutrient-rich​ ​inner​ ​part).​ ​When​ ​grains​ ​are​ ​milled ​ ​or​ ​refined,​ ​the​ ​bran​ ​and​ ​germ​ ​portions are​ ​removed,​ ​leaving​ ​only​ ​the​ ​endosperm​ ​(what​ ​you​ ​get​ ​when​ ​you​ ​eat​ ​white​ ​bread).​ ​The​ ​endosperm is​ ​mostly​ ​empty​ ​carbohydrate​ ​calories.​ ​Yes,​ ​you​ ​need​ ​carbs​ ​for​ ​energy,​ ​but​ ​you’re​ ​losing​ ​the benefits​ ​of​ ​the​ ​whole​ ​grain​ ​when​ ​you​ ​go​ ​for​ ​refined.​ ​Most​ ​of​ ​the​ ​carbohydrates​ ​in​ ​a​ ​healthful​ ​meal​ ​plan​ ​should come​ ​in​ ​the​ ​form​ ​of​ ​​veggies,​ ​fruits,​ ​yogurt,​ ​beans,​ ​legumes​ ​​, and​​ ​whole​ ​grains​.​ ​These carbohydrate-rich​ ​foods​ ​tend​ ​to​ ​be​ ​the​ ​most​ ​nutrient-dense​ ​choices.​ ​Like​ ​millet,​ ​quinoa, ​spelt​, ​or​ ​cracked​ ​wheat.​ ​Whole​ ​wheat​ ​bread,​ ​brown​ ​rice,​ ​and​ ​whole-wheat​ ​pasta​ ​are also​ ​good​ ​sources​ ​of​ ​carbohydrates. ​However,​ ​their​ ​whole​ ​grains​ ​are​ ​processed​ ​, and​ ​therefore,​ ​some nutrients​ ​are​ ​lost.​ It is important to mention that whole grains are not for everyone — especially those who have a gluten sensitivity or celiac disease.

Some of the proven and possible benefits of consuming whole grains are:

  • High in nutrients and fiber.
  • May lower your risk of heart disease
  • May lower your risk of stroke
  • Support a healthy digestion
  • May reduce chronic inflammation
  • Bodies #1 energy source

Proteins are considered the building blocks of life. Our skin, bones, muscles, hair, nails, and cartilage are mainly made of proteins. Most enzymes and hormones in our bodies are also proteins. Our protein needs shift as our activity levels change and throughout our life cycle. We​ ​need​ ​the​ ​most​ ​protein​ ​when​ ​we​ ​are​ ​growing​ ​(childhood​ ​and​ ​pregnancy)​ ​and repairing​ ​(injury​ ​or​ ​recovery​ ​from​ ​intense​ ​strength​ ​training).​ Protein has many functions in the body, aside from just giving us energy. It helps provide structure to our tissues and cells, supports our immunity, and even helps support growth. Protein​ ​quality​ ​usually​ ​refers​ ​to the​ ​levels​ ​of​ ​essential​ ​amino​ ​acids​ ​found​ ​in​ ​the​ ​food.​ ​There are two types of dietary protein: complete and incomplete. Protein that comes from animal food is considered a complete protein because it contains all essential amino acids. Plant-based proteins are typically lacking in one or two of these essential amino acids, which is why this form of protein is considered incomplete.  Animal​ ​proteins,​ ​such​ ​as​ ​beef,​ ​eggs,​ ​chicken, fish​ ​, and​ ​poultry,​ ​contain​ ​high​ ​levels​ ​of​ ​all​ ​of​ ​the​ ​essential​ ​amino​ ​acids,​ ​and​ ​so​ ​they​ ​are​ ​referred​ ​to​ ​as complete​ ​proteins​.​ ​Soy-based​ ​foods,​ ​such​ ​as​ ​tofu​ ​and​ ​tempeh,​ ​quinoa​ ​and​ ​hemp​ ​are​ ​also considered​ ​complete.​ ​Many​ ​plant​ ​foods​ ​such​ ​as legumes,​ ​rice,​ ​beans​ ​, and​ ​nuts​ ​do​ ​not​ ​contain​ ​all​ ​the​ ​essential​ ​amino​ ​acids​ ​in​ ​high​ ​amounts​ ​and​ ​may be​ ​referred​ ​to​ ​as​ ​​incomplete​ ​proteins. Many people are concerned that they don’t get enough protein, but most can easily obtain adequate protein from their diets, whether or not they consume animal foods.

Some of the proven and possible benefits of consuming lean proteins are:

  • Builds and repairs body structure
  • Supports a healthy metabolism
  • Encourages weight loss and maintenance
  • Improves overall health

Health fats, also known as lipids, are necessary for our diets to achieve optimal health. Although fat might be a scary word to some, remember that the quality and type of fat we’re eating plays a significant role in our health and that by avoiding it, we’re doing ourselves a disservice. Healthy fats you want to include are called monounsaturated fats, like those in the Mediterranean Diet. Things like avocado, chia seeds, olive oil, nut, and seeds. They help are heart-healthy and help to support “good” cholesterol (HDL) and lower “bad” cholesterol (LDL). Polyunsaturated fatty acids found in the form of  Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are essential to our diets because we can’t synthesize them in the body. There are three main types of omega-3s: EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), and ALA (alpha-linolenic acid). Omega-3s help reduce inflammation, support heart health, reduce symptoms of depression, and reduce the risk of cancer. Western diets tend to be high in omega-6 (linoleic acid) and lacking in omega-3, which has been shown to promote inflammation. Good sources of EPA and DHA are salmon tuna, walnuts, and chia seeds. Health benefits aside, fat helps our food taste delicious and because fat takes longer to digest, keeps us feeling satisfied after a meal.  As a good rule of thumb stay away from fats in the forms of saturated or trans fats found in processed foods, fatty meats, or fried foods.

Some of the proven and possible benefits of consuming healthy fats are:

  • Supports proper brain development
  • Provides cushioning and insulation for internal organs
  • Plays a role in hormone synthesis
  • Help support cardiovascular and neurological health

Hydration another essential part of your healthy plate! Water​ ​makes​ ​up​ ​50​ ​to​ ​60%​ ​of​ ​your​ ​body​ ​weight​ ​, and​ ​every​ ​system​ ​in​ ​your​ ​body​ ​depends​ ​on​ ​water​ ​to function.​ ​Two-thirds​ ​of​ ​the​ ​water​ ​in​ ​the​ ​body​ ​is​ ​within​ ​cells​ ​, and​ ​about​ ​one-third​ ​is​ ​outside​ ​of​ ​cells​ ​as the extracellular​ ​fluid,​ ​circulating​ ​in​ ​the blood,​ ​between​ ​cells​ ​and​ ​inside​ ​organs.​ ​You​ ​need​ ​water​ ​to​ ​make everything​ ​in​ ​your​ ​body​ ​happen,​ ​including​ ​proper​ ​nutrition.​ ​Water​ ​flushes​ ​toxins​ ​and​ ​wastes​ ​out​ ​of organs,​ ​helps​ ​carry​ ​oxygen​ ​and​ ​nutrients​ ​to​ ​cells, ​ ​and​ ​provides​ ​a​ ​healthy​ ​environment​ ​for​ ​tissues.

​Not​ ​getting​ ​enough​ ​water​ ​leads​ ​to dehydration,​ ​a​ ​dangerous​ ​state​ ​for​ ​your​ ​body​ ​to​ ​be​ ​in.​ ​During​ ​periods​ ​of​ ​dehydration,​ ​your​ ​body can’t​ ​carry​ ​out​ ​normal​ ​functions​ ​and​ ​begins​ ​to​ ​feel​ ​tired​ ​and​ ​drained.​ We’ve​ ​all​ ​heard​ ​the​ ​rule​ ​”8​ ​glasses​ ​of​ ​water​ ​a​ ​day”! Still,​ ​it’s​ ​not​ ​a​ ​bad​ ​mantra​ ​to​ ​live by​ ​, and​ ​I​ ​often​ ​give​ ​my​ ​clients​ ​the​ ​goal​ ​of​ ​8​ ​glasses​ ​a​ ​day​ ​as​ ​it’s​ ​pretty​ ​easy​ ​to​ ​remember, ​ ​and​ ​it​ ​is adequate​ ​for​ ​most​ ​people.​ There​ ​are​ ​lots​ ​of​ ​other​ ​ways​ ​to​ ​get​ ​your​ ​fluid​ ​in​ ​than​ ​just​ ​plain​ ​old​ ​H2O.​ ​Lots​ ​of​ ​foods​ ​are​ ​packed with​ ​water​ ​, and​ ​other​ ​healthy​ ​beverages can​ ​count​ ​towards​ ​your​ ​daily​ ​dose​ ​of liquid.​ ​Most​ ​fruits​ ​and​ ​vegetables​ ​have​ ​incredibly​ ​high​ ​water​ ​content​ ​-​ ​some​ ​can​ ​be​ ​up​ ​to​ ​96%​ ​water! Think of cucumbers, melons, celery, grapefruit, iceberg lettuce, or herbal teas.

Some of the proven and possible benefits of consuming water are:

  • Lubricates the joints
  • Regulates body temperature
  • Flushes out wastes
  • Maintains blood pressure

So, now that you know the anatomy of a healthy plate, you can eat empowered! By that I mean you can feel​ ​empowered​ ​putting​ ​the​ ​most​ ​nutrient-rich​ ​foods​ ​in​ ​your​ ​body.​ ​It’s​ ​not,​ ​”I​ ​can’t​ ​eat​ ​the chocolate​ ​cake.”​ ​It’s,​ ​”I​ ​can​ ​eat​ ​the​ ​blueberries!”​ ​​ ​When​ ​you​ ​focus​ ​on​ ​how​ ​good​ ​you​ ​feel​ ​fueling yourself​ ​with​ ​the​ ​best​ ​foods,​ ​you​ ​will​ ​continue​ ​to​ ​be​ ​motivated​ ​to​ ​eat​ ​these​ ​foods.​ ​The​ ​benefits​ ​will follow—I’m​ ​talking​ ​everything​ ​from​ ​weight​ ​loss​ ​to​ ​skin​ ​health.​ ​When​ ​you​ ​eat​ ​well,​ ​you​ ​feel​ ​good​ ​and​ ​live good!

Rebecca Gray, Holistic Health Coach of Faithfully Rooted in Health

“Eating clean food, breathing deeply and moving intentionally throughout the day  are the centerpiece of my personal health plan.  My passion is helping mamas [and others] cultivate these habits into their lives. It is not just about food and exercise. Yes, both are important,  but family, faith, work, money and the environment we create matter too. Agreed?  We will be discussing all facets of a wholesome life in the days ahead.

So, whether you are one hot mess and need to get on track with healthy living or you are on track and need encouragement to stay there, I can help. Lets live healthy and whole, TOGETHER!”

For recipes or more information, please visit me at

Follow me on Instagram Here!


Medical News Today

Oregon State University



Integrated Institute of Nutrition

Nutritious Life

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How do you move??

Hey Fort Mill!  Lets talk about exercise!

Are you nervous to get started?  Are you worried you won’t reach your goal?  What holds you back?

Many times, when I mention the word “exercise”, patients get nervous.  DON’T!

The truth is, exercise means different things to different people.   For some, this might be going for a walk (check out our upcoming Walk with a Doc Program at for other’s it’s a jog, or yoga, or barre, or HIIT training, or hiking, or chair aerobics, or dancing, or balance class, swimming, bike riding, golf…. And the list goes on and on…..

These are just a few examples of how we can MOVE our bodies.  It can be as a group or on your own.  It can be organized or chaotic (like when my husband tries to dance).

What I’m getting at is that exercise DOES NOT have to hurt.  It does not have to be intimidating.  It is whatever you can do to move your body in a meaningful way that increases your heart rate and strengthens your muscles.

If I had to list the benefits of exercise, my blog post would be infinitely long.  I frequently say to my patients that exercise is the best anti-anxiety medication, the best antidepressant, the best sleeping pill, the best weight loss pill, the best hypertension and diabetes medication, the best preventative for heart disease, the BEST EVERYTHING!

This month we are talking about prevention.

Exercise will ALWAYS be at the top of that list of questions I will ask you about when you come to see us at New South Family Medicine.  Let’s work together to prevent chronic disease, including heart disease, obesity, diabetes, various cancers, fatty liver, arthritis, osteoporosis…and many, many more.

I love that New South Family Medicine is located in Kingsley Town Center – I am happy to join you for a class at barre3, Orange Theory or Carolina Yoga if you are worried about going on your own.  Sometimes just having the support and knowing that someone who cares about your health is there with you!

If classes aren’t your thing, join us the first Monday evening of every month at 6:00 as NSFM hosts a Walk with a Doc program ( ).  We will walk one mile around Kingsley Town Center after a short health tip from me!  Ask me any health questions during the easygoing walk with other Fort Mill friends and family!

This is about movement.  This is about community.  This is about FUN!!  Let’s move together, Fort Mill!


Benefits of Exercise

Hey Fort Mill!!!  We are less than a week away from the first day of school!  Its crazy to think about…

As summer comes to a close and pool days are limited, have you thought about how you will continue to keep yourself and your children active?  Daily physical activity keep us fit and healthy.

When most adults think about exercise, they think about running on a treadmill or laps at the pool.  What exercise should be for ALL of us, however, is being physically active.  For adults that may mean working in the garden, dancing in your living room, going for a walk or practicing yoga.  For children, its playing at school recess, riding bikes through the neighborhood, or even playing tag in the yard.

The benefits of exercise are vast.  The list is too long to write here, but some of the main elements are: 

  1. Better sleep (see last week’s blog post)
  2. Stronger, leaner bodies
  3. Less risk of becoming overweight
  4. Less chance of developing chronic diseases such as Type II Diabetes, high blood pressure and even some cancers.
  5. Better coping skills, including better adaption to both physical and emotional stressors.

Let’s break it down by age:

Toddlers and preschool-aged children should play several times a day, toddlers should get at least 60 minutes of active play and pre-schoolers should get at least 120 minutes of a combined of adult-led and unstructured play daily.  Do not let young children be inactive for long periods of time, unless they are sleeping.

There are three basic elements of fitness and our physical activities should be of a variety that include all three:

  1. Endurance
  2. Strength
  3. Flexibility

Endurance develops when we do activities that make us breathe harder, make our heart beat faster and make our large muscles expand and contract.  This makes the HEART STRONGER to allow the blood to deliver oxygen effectively to the body.

Aerobic activity for endurance includes:

  1. Multiple different team sports including basketball, soccer, and tennis
  2. Jogging/running
  3. Swimming
  4. Bike riding

Strength training encompasses activities that help to strengthen and tone our muscles.  Many adults think of weight lifting, which is certainly part of this, but we can all strengthen our bodies in multiple types of ways!

   Activities for strength:

  1. Yoga
  2. Gymnastics
  3. Dance
  4. Cartwheels in the yard
  5. Climbing a tree
  6. Monkey bars on the playground
  7. Swings

Flexibility improves when we allow the joints and muscles to move through their full range of motion.  Stretching is not just about being able to touch your toes – it helps kids remain active while reducing the risk of injury!

Kids stretch every day when:

  1. They reach for a toy
  2. Bend over to pick up toys and clean the playroom
  3. Practice a split
  4. Again, practice yoga
  5. Reach into the cabinet for a cup

All three of these elements of activity are important for our children to grow strong and healthy. We, as a society, are much more sedentary than we used to be.  But this shouldn’t take the place of getting enough sleep and remaining active.  Our bodies are designed to MOVE.  Our children learn from our example – make exercise a family activity!  If your children see that it is an important part of your life, it will continue to be an important part of theirs.  So, put on those walking shoes and get out there together!!!!!

Special note:  Look for upcoming information on Walk With A Doc!  We will have our first community walk together October 7th at Kingsley beginning at New South Family Medicine!