Raising kids, eating right, spending smart, living well — that’s the theme of a national Living Well Campaign being promoted by the Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences, both at the national level and here in Illinois.

The goal of the Living Well Campaign is to provide people with the education and information they need in order to live well.

The Illinois Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences works through the University of Illinois Extension Service to offer all kinds of information that will help families achieve a positive, healthy lifestyle.

Whether you are trying to manage your diabetes through meal planning and exercise, make decisions about health care and insurance, or get tips on effective parenting or caregiving techniques, Extension probably has a research-based answer.

To make every month a Living Well Month, consider these eight tips.

  1. Engage children in at least 60 minutes of physical activity on most, preferably all, days of the week. Adults need at least 30 minutes of physical activity. Besides participating in sporting activities, turn on some music and dance. Be creative by assembling an obstacle course or using hula hoops. Start planning a garden. Take a walk or ride a bike.
  2. Drink plenty of water. The average adult human body is approximately 60% water. Water regulates every living cell’s processes and chemical reactions, and transports nutrients and oxygen. Limit the soda and fruit drinks consumed daily.
  3. Eat a variety of healthful foods. Be sure to have plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables every day. Most people need at least 4.5 cups to meet the daily recommendation. Have a glass of 100% juice or sliced banana on cereal for breakfast, enjoy raw vegetables and dip with a sandwich at lunch and a sliced apple for dessert. At dinner, steam some vegetables and prepare a fruit parfait with yogurt for dessert. Try a new fruit or vegetable.
  4. Read, read, read. Go to the library and check out books. Keep the mental stimulation flowing throughout the year regardless of your age.
  5. Work on 4-H projects or open-class exhibits for the county fair. Locate last year’s county fair program for ideas and look at upcoming events provided on your local Extension office website.
  6. Check out parenting, finance, nutrition and/or food preparation classes offered by your Extension office. Check the Extension website for information about upcoming offerings.
  7. Maintain a healthy home. Be sure your smoke detector works correctly and test for the presence of radon. Help manage allergies and/or asthma by cleaning and vacuuming regularly to reduce allergy triggers. Avoid accidental poisonings by keeping medications locked up, and cleaning agents and other poisons out of reach of children.
  8. Keep your family finances in check. Track your expenses and update your budget regularly. Eat at home often because meals outside of home usually cost more. Plan your menus and use the coupons to help plan menus. Use leftovers as the basis for another meal.

Cheri Burcham serves as a University of Illinois Extension family life educator in Coles, Cumberland, Douglas, Moultrie and Shelby counties.