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Moving helps keep mom’s mind active

A scene from Disney Junior's animated series 'Doc McStuffins.' | Disney Junior~AP

A scene from Disney Junior's animated series "Doc McStuffins." | Disney Junior~AP

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Updated: July 21, 2012 6:04AM

Q. My mom is 84 and going into an assisted-living community. They
have bingo nights, movies and piano recitals, but that doesn’t seem like enough activity. What can I do to make sure she doesn’t fold up her tent?

A. Time to get her in on the craze sweeping retirement communities all over North America: exer-games! If she walks in there with Nintendo’s Wii or Xbox’s Kinect Sports, she’ll be more popular than Frank Sinatra at the Sands Hotel!

Interactive video bowling leagues in retirement communities are huge, with tournaments and even inter-community rivalries. And there are get-up-and-get-moving programs for everything from yoga to golf, skiing, soccer — even curling. For older folks who get into these games there are a lot of benefits — physical, mental and social!

No wonder the National Science Foundation is putting $1.2 million into a four-year study of if and how video games slow cognitive decline. And the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation pledged $8.5 million to study the impact of video games on everything from Alzheimer’s disease to driving skills. But there’s no reason to wait for the results. Help Mom settle into her new home and improve her mental and physical well-being with these fun and active video games.

Q. I’ve put on 50 pounds in the past 10 years, and I see my kids (6, 8 and 10) are getting fat too! I don’t have a lot of time or money. What can we do?

A. Research reveals moms who are anxious about their economic situation (and these days, who isn’t?) tend to overfeed their kids. When they do, it disrupts healthy eating impulses; the child never knows whether he’s hungry or not, and this leads to chronic overeating.

You know what the kids and you should eat. Real, home-cooked food: lean, tasty and green. No saturated or trans fats, no simple sugars or added syrups, no grain but 100 percent whole grains. But anxiety makes it hard to keep up good habits. Persistent stress stimulates release of the hormone cortisol, and that activates cravings for sugary, fatty foods and fuels depression. You overeat, and you feed your kids the same unhealthy foods you crave.

How to turn off anxiety and shed excess pounds?

Make time for family mealtimes; sit down together for 30 minutes. It soothes the soul and upgrades the diet.

Plan menus four days in advance; you’ll control less-than-healthy impulse purchases. And get the kids involved in shopping and cooking; they’ll want to eat what they prepare!

Schedule family exercise time: Walking (10,000 steps a day), playing ball, gardening ... as much as you and the kids can fit into a day. Turn off the TV and computers! Anxiety will melt away.

King Features Syndicate

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