On Your Health

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Steps to Health: Your Local Supermarket

04 April 2016

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If you dread weekly trips to the grocery store, you’re not alone. Picking up groceries for the week often turns into a chore, especially with crowds and kids. There is good news, though: your local supermarket is not only a great place to stock up on healthy foods, but also the perfect spot to sneak in a workout.

Fitness…at the grocery store?

That’s right – those dreaded trips to the supermarket actually offer a hidden benefit: walking. Spending one hour at the grocery store on a Saturday afternoon, we tracked more than 4,000 steps, walking more than 1.9 miles. Up and down the aisles, back and forth across opposite ends of the store, those steps can add up quickly and walking while pushing a cart (especially with toddlers in tow) can be more of a workout than you think. An average person can burn 150 calories per hour simply strolling through the supermarket.

man walking at grocery store

Filling up a healthy shopping cart

Of course, any amount of walking at the grocery store won’t be of much help if your buggy is filled with unhealthy items and junk food. The easiest strategy for filling your cart with wholesome, healthy foods? Stick to the perimeter of the store. Most supermarkets are set up with fruits, vegetables, fish, lean meats, dairy and eggs all on the outer edge of the store. Of course, exceptions have to be made occasionally. Things like nuts, spices, and whole grain breads are often found in the inner aisles, but for the most part, the healthiest options at the grocery store are located on the outermost walls.

Grocery shopping with kids

Incorporating a few simple activities into your grocery shopping trip can ease the process for you and your kiddos, teaching valuable lessons along the way.

  • Healthy choices: Help your kids feel included in the shopping process. Give them two healthy options to choose from, and let them pick between items such as turkey or ham, flavors of yogurt, or varieties of apples.
  • Explore the produce aisle: Each trip to the store can be an opportunity to try a new fruit or vegetable. See what’s in season, or choose something unfamiliar. Encourage your kids to pick out something new for your family to try.
  • What’s on the label: The grocery store is the perfect place to chat with older kids about the information on nutrition labels. It’s important to discuss things like serving sizes, ingredients, and daily values, and it’s never too early to teach children about making good choices when it comes to nutrition.
  • Talk about origins: We can’t always get our fruits from the farmers market, veggies from the garden, or raise our own chickens for eggs, but it’s important to teach our children that the food they eat wasn’t always on a shelf. You can be more literal, (age-appropriately, of course) and mention things like bacon comes from pigs, dairy milk comes from cows, or lettuce is the leaf of a plant. See if your supermarket carries any locally grown produce, and talk with your kids about the journey of certain items, such as seafood. Discuss the importance of jobs like farming, fishing, and transportation so they can begin to see the whole picture. Knowing where their food originates encourages children to think critically and make informed decisions for a healthy lifestyle.

The next time you spend a Saturday afternoon at the grocery store, don’t forget your steps. From a healthy cart to a healthy fridge to a healthy body, your supermarket trips make a difference.

supermarket steps to health


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