When I say healthy habits what comes to mind? Maybe it’s a cardio workout or healthy salad for lunch, but being healthy means more than just leading a healthy life physically. A healthy lifestyle should be well rounded, and should include spending just as much time nurturing your brain as you do your body. With everything we often have to tackle in a day our mental health and wellness often gets put on the back burner. That is why at Innovation Health we are focusing on teaching local youth how to lead a healthy lifestyle at a young age.

Did you know that in the United States, 65% of 4th graders read below grade level? Reading is a valuable and often overlooked part of a healthy lifestyle. Studies show it can reduce stress and increase empathy in children. That’s why at Innovation Health we took part in the 2017 national Read Across America event. Earlier this month our team was joined by Redskins wide receiver Josh Doctson to read to the classes at Pine Springs Elementary. Not only did the kids love meeting Josh, but our team got to rediscover our love for Dr. Seuss and his tongue twisters!

Reading to the kids in your house can be a great way to challenge your mind as well and foster healthy habits that your children will carry throughout their whole lives. You don’t have to wait until a big national event to plant the seed for a lifetime love of reading though. Head to your local library and let your child’s imagination take over. Selecting a book, magazine or comic they enjoy reading will make your child more likely to sustain the habit. Make it a goal to spend 20 minutes each day reading with your child and set up fun sticker charts and family contests to encourage them to keep it up.

Remember, your child’s mental health is just as important as our physical health. Let’s work together and give them all the right tools for a bright, healthy future.

About Innovation Health

Innovation Health provides health benefit plans to more than 200,000 members. The product of a unique Aetna and Inova Health System partnership, Innovation Health began offering health benefit plans in October of 2013 as a new way to deliver and finance more affordable, quality health care for employers and individuals in Northern Virginia. Through our integrated care model, Innovation Health combines a premier health plan, health system, and physicians for improved health outcomes and cost savings.

Innovation Health plans are available to individuals and businesses of all sizes in Arlington County, Clarke County, Fairfax County, Frederick County, Loudon County, Page County, Prince William County, Shenandoah County, Spotsylvania County and Stafford County. Individuals residing in these counties can purchase health plans directly from Innovation Health at innovation-health.com or through the Virginia Exchange website for the 2017 open enrollment. For more information on Innovation Health, our plans and how we can help you, visit our website.

By Amy Turner, Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer of Innovation Health