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Take 12 Steps for Health

Take 12 Calendar


April 2017

Step 4: Cut Back on Screen Time

The weather is warming up, and it’s a perfect time to get outside! Set time limits on screen time in an effort to enjoy other activities both indoor and out.

Making Healthy Strides


Do something you enjoy that doesn’t involve a screen. Go for a walk or play your favorite sport. Read a book, write or draw. Go to a friend’s house. Play with kids or your dog. Find something fun and interesting to do.

Declare “screen-free zones” during meal times and before bed. Think of games or activities you can do as a family that does not involve a screen.


Smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktops, and televisions have come to dominate our lives. We are constantly surrounded by them at home and work and our children are exposed to various technology at school. However, screen time is not beneficial to children, especially younger kids. Limiting screen time at home can help improve development and will allow kids to fill their time with more beneficial activities, such as playing sports or bike riding. Below are recommendations for screen time based on age:

  • Newborn to 2 years old: No screen time
  • Two to five years old: No more than one hour per day at home, with supervision and 30 minutes per week in child care facilities
  • Five years old to 18 years old: Parents should set limits on how much screen time they receive including TV, social media, and video games. Screen time should not replace being physically active or receiving enough sleep.
  • Adults 18+: Control their own screen time outside of school and work. Be conscious of time spent on social media. Be sure to set a good example for your family by staying physically active and participating in activities that do not involve screens.

Another way to encourage children to do other activities is to put other activities in rooms where there are screens. For example, if the family room has a TV, place a bookcase filled with books, board games, and/or craft activities to give kids alternative activities. Have a bin filled with sports/outdoor equipment somewhere easily accessible to kids to encourage them to go outside. Don’t forget to set a good example by participating in outdoor activities with your kids.

Source: Kid's Health, "Healthy Habits for TV, Video Games, and the Internet" and "Limit Use of TV, Computers and Mobile Devices"


The weather is warming up and spring is right around the corner; this is the perfect opportunity to share in some family fun outdoors. There are plenty of great outdoor activities to get your family up, out, and moving:

  • Have a picnic: Visit a local park, setup a blanket, pack healthy snacks/lunch, and bring some outdoor games like a Frisbee to toss around.
  • Berry picking: Spring time means more fruits are in season. Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and cherries are at their ripest. What seems like a leisurely and calm activity actually gets you up and active. You’ll earn more steps than imagined while picking some fresh fruits that will leave your taste buds satisfied.
  • Play Hopscotch: This simple, inexpensive, and classic activity is great for family bonding. Variations can be added by adding another Hopscotch course to continue onto, adding challenges like hoops to jump in, or go through the course backwards.
  • Fly kites: Fairly inexpensive and/or simple to make, flying kites is a great outdoor activity on a warm day. Find a local park to take your kites out on a slightly breezy day. Kids (and parents) can get some great physical activity in chasing kites in an open park. If your kids are competitive, add a challenge by adding some friendly competition among your family.
  • Plant a garden: Have fun and do good for the environment! Designate an area in your yard or on your patio to grow herbs, fruits and veggies. Each one of your family members can pick something they want to grow and take care of it.
  • Try paddle boarding: Find a local lake or river and try paddle boarding. Many waterfront sites have classes to introduce you to this new sport. This is a great activity for kids of all ages.

Be creative when picking what activities to do with your family; the above are a few suggestions, but there’s plenty more that can be done. Make sure to get their input to ensure they’ll enjoy the activity too!  

 Source: Parents, "20 Activities To Do with Your Family This Weekend"


Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, we’ve probably heard of these popular social media apps. Smartphones have come to have a negative image because of their time-consuming use. However, from tracking meals to at-home workout videos, there are many apps with a health and fitness focus. Below are a few popular health and fitness oriented apps:

  • MyFitnessPal: Used to track food, drinks, and exercise, this app has a database of over 5 million foods and hundreds of strength and cardiovascular exercises. Eating out at a restaurant? MyFitnessPal has restaurant nutrition information in the app to help you plan your meal or scan a barcode to add food to your diary. This app is great for tracking your intake and output to track goals.
  • MapMyWalk/MapMyRun: Whether you’re a beginning walker or an avid runner, these apps will give you outdoor walking/running paths near you, track your workout, tell you your pace, and track your steps. This is great if you enjoy being outdoors.
  • Sworkit: Too tired to hit the gym? This app features at-home workout videos demonstrated by personal trainers that can be done in the comfort of your own home. Customize workouts by choosing length, target areas, and any other special limitations.
  • Couch to 5k: Did you just sign up for a 5k and have never ran before? This app allows beginners to cross the 5k finish line. It only takes 30 minutes a day for nine weeks with customizable coaches and the ability to share progress on social media.   
  • JeFit: Tired of the same old strength-training routine? JeFit features customizable workouts to target all major muscle groups or individual exercises categorized by muscle. Track your progress using their log feature to see how you have improved.
  • Pocket Yoga: Practice yoga anytime, anywhere with this app. Its database contains over 200 yoga poses with descriptions for yogis of all skill levels. Log your yoga practices to see your progress. 

Give a few of these a try, you may be surprised at how your smartphone can help you reach you reach your goals or learn something new.

Source: Active, "17 Best Health and Fitness Apps of 2017"

Get Info for the 50+ Crowd at the Park Authority’s 50+ Web Portal

50+ Connect, Engage, PlayThe Fairfax County Park Authority has launched a website specifically for residents age 50 or older. The 50+ Engage-Connect-Play portal provides one-stop shopping for information on Fitness & Wellness, Arts & Learning, Gardening & Adventure, Giving Back, and more that’s geared toward Baby Boomers and active seniors.

Learn More at Fairfax County Park Authority - Fifty Plus.


Fairfax County Park Authority Take 12 Sponsors
Take 12 Steps for Family Health
Take 12 Steps for Your Health in 2017 Calendar

Download Your

12 Months, 12 healthy goals. Don't miss out on this year's great wellness opportunities in the Fairfax County community! The calendar contains fitness and wellness tips, ways to improve your nutritional habits, and better health ideas for kids, teens and adults. Also, the calendar contains coupons to use throughout the year. STEP UP to better health!

The Take 12 program is free and anyone can participate at any time. This program is designed to:

  • Help you accomplish healthy goals each month, with tips to keep you going for the duration.
  • Give you access to information - free workshops are available each month on different healthy topics and bulletin boards loaded with information are posted at all the RECenters.
  • Provide an opportunity for you to experience fitness and wellness programs offered across Fairfax County.
  • Empower you to make important lifestyle changes... you can do it!
  • Plus, sign-up to receive the monthly e-newsletter, packed with recipes and healthy tips, upcoming events, and opportunities to achieve your Take 12 goals!

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Download the Take 12 Pledge


Take 12 Newsletter

2017 Healthy Strides Community 5k/10K, Burke Lake Park, April 22, 2017


Healthy Workshops and Events are always being added!
Check our events calendar often for great opportunities in the community.

All events are free (unless indicated with a "$") and require advanced registration.
To register, please email


We are looking for people who have used the Take 12 program and found better health as a result of their participation. We are also looking for any kind of feedback about the program - the calendar, events, workshops, tips, articles - anything that you want to tell us, we're listening! Email us at


Phone: 703-324-8423

Mailing Address:
Fairfax County Park Authority
Attn: Take 12 Program
12055 Government Center Pkwy, Suite 425
Fairfax, VA 22035-1118

All content within is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. Always consult your doctor if you are concerned about your health. Always consult your physician or health care provider before taking any new medication, beginning any program of exercise, or following any health or wellness advice contained herein.

Contact Fairfax County: Phone, Email or Twitter | Main Address: 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA 22035
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