Unfortunately, during the busy school year, kids tend to be less physically active, eat a less-healthy diet, and sleep less. However, these and other bad habits can easily be resolved. Here are a few ways that you can ensure a healthy school year for your child:
• Monitor your child’s diet. With childhood obesity on the rise, it is extremely important for kids to eat healthy foods. Make sure your child has a good breakfast. Studies show that kids who eat a nutritious breakfast concentrate better than those who don’t. Talk to your child about the importance of a healthy diet and making healthy choices.
• Make sure your kids are physically active. As the days get shorter and the air gets cooler, the call of video games, electronics and television can be hard for kids to ignore. Children should be active for at least 30 minutes every day. To achieve this, go for a family bike ride, play catch, walk the dog or anything that is fun and active. (Exercise is good for Mom and Dad, too.) Encouraging kids to be active in childhood increases the likelihood that they will continue to be active as adults, which means a healthier life!
• Set a regular sleep schedule for your children. Summer sleep schedules are often more flexible, but it’s important that kids get adequate sleep during the school year. Grade school-age children should get at least eight hours nightly, and teens should get even more. Research indicates that sleeping problems in children, such as sleep apnea, are very closely tied to obesity, poor academic performance and behavior problems. Forming healthy sleep habits will help your child be happy and successful.
• The No. 1 key to remaining healthy? Wash your hands. Remind your children to wash their hands during the school day, and a good wash when they get home would be advised as well. It’s part of the three “C’s.” Cover your cough or sneeze, Contain illness (if your child is ill keep him or her home) and Clean (wash) your hands. We could prevent much of the illness that gets passed around if we’d all follow the three C’s.
With the right guidelines and a little conscientiousness, it should be easy to combat illness and keep your child healthy and successful during this school year.
If you have more questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to ask your family health provider at The Earlham Clinic (515-758-2907) or Health Trust Physicians Clinic in Winterset (515-462-2950). Have a great school year.
Information provided by Chris Nolte, director, Public Relations and Development, Madison County Health Care Systems, 300 West Hutchings, Winterset, 515-462-9749.