Back to School Health Tips

The days are getting shorter, the fall equinox is here and kids all over the bay area are back in school. Here are some health tips for kids to ensure the transition back into the school year goes well!

Get Adequate Sleep
Summertime sleep patterns can be luxurious and hard to break. Ensure that your children start heading to bed earlier so they can get adequate sleep before the school day. To determine the appropriate bedtime, consider the when your child needs to wake up and the amount of sleep they need for their age:
Age 5-12: 10-12 hours per day
Age 13-18: 8-9 hours per day.
Getting adequate sleep will ensure that your child performs to his or her full potential, athletically, intellectually and socially.

Eat a Well Balanced Diet
Kids should eat three well-balanced meals per day and have a couple of nutritious snacks in between. Meals should include protein, whole grains and fruits and vegetables. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables ensure that kids are getting all the nutrients they need for optimal brain function.

Skip the sugar. Meals and snacks with high sugar content can disrupt concentration. Sugar also feeds bacteria and viruses while dampening the immune system, making your child more vulnerable to getting sick.

Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day! Make sure that there is plenty of protein at this meal; this will ensure they have adequate blood sugar to get them through the school day. Adequate blood sugar levels help improve concentration, focus and energy.

Move Your Body
Regular activity and exercise help keep kids healthy. Exercise releases endorphins that help kids feel good in their bodies. Regular exercise also stimulates circulation throughout the body and brain, which improves memory and intellectual performance. Exercise will also help enhance immune function to ward of viruses and bacteria. Children mimic their parents, so be a good role model and exercise with your children. Go out for walks or bike rides, and spend some family time being active together.

Limit Screen Time
Spending time in front of screens kills creativity and encourages sedentary behavior. Excessive screen time can also lead to inattention and focus problems. Children should spend no more than 1 hour in front of a screen per day. This includes: TV, smart phones, Ipads, computers, and video games.

Save Their Backs
Many children carry way too much in their backpacks. An increasing number of children are showing up in emergency rooms with back pain. Make sure your child has a backpack that is an appropriate size for them with two padded shoulder straps and a hip belt so that weight is evenly distributed. Use all of the compartments to organize the contents of the backpack and pack the heaviest items closest to the center of the back. Children should carry no more than 15-20% of their body weight.

Support Good Study Habits
Work out a schedule that allows ample time to complete assignments and includes study breaks. Put up a wall calendar that lists assignments and has checklists that help children stay on top of their workload. Create an environment that is conducive to doing homework by giving them a workspace that is free of distractions. Establish a rule that TVs and telephones stay off during homework time. Supervise computer and Internet use so that time is focused on completing assignments and not distracted by Facebook or YouTube. Be available to answer questions and offer assistance but do not do the work for them.

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