Family Health and Fitness Day USA is on the last Saturday of September and it’s a day that promotes physical activity and health with your loved ones. We share genes with our family, but aren’t aware of the everyday habits we develop from our families as well. Food and health patterns tend to spread between family members when they live in the same household, which means that it can be hard to break out of unhealthy patterns when everyone else is doing it. Thankfully, Family Health and Fitness Day USA reminds us to put family fitness first.
History of Family Health & Fitness Day USA
Prior to the 1700s, epidemic diseases were a big risk to families throughout history. The plague, cholera, and smallpox were threats to everyone especially the youth. Social status also attributed to a family’s eating habits. Those from wealthier families could afford better and tastier meals and had healthier options, while those in the lower class had less access to adequate portions.
The 1800s saw the birth of the one-dish meal. Most families weren’t wealthy and cooking equipment was limited. People didn’t use a single pot for every meal and instead, they often cooked meals in one stew for dinner. This could have any variation of poultry, pork, vegetables, and potatoes for stew and hearty meals. Nutritional value wasn’t their main priority. They cared about making food last and foods with the most amount of calories for energy, as there were many working families.
In the early 1900s, most foods were prepared from what was available in the garden, cellar, or icebox. The location of the nearest general store could vary, which meant that many had to rely on their own lands. In 1921 the introduction of the first fast-food chain White Castle changed the direction of the nation towards manufactured food, as did the growth of industries that saw families moving from rural areas to factory jobs in urban areas.
In the 1940s, the American Medical Association and the National Committee on Physical Fitness encouraged physical fitness to improve the overall health of the American population, but it was still an uphill climb with the advent of multinational fast-food chains like McDonald’s arriving in the mid-1950s. In 1996, the Health and Information Resource Center created Family Health and Fitness Day USA to promote a healthier lifestyle with family-related health and fitness events.