Make Health a Priority as You Head Back to School

 In Arizona Heart Foundation Blog, Heart Healthy Food

Somehow, summer is already nearing its end. Whether your own kids are heading off to kindergarten or college, back-to-school season is a great time to get back to basics when it comes to eating right, exercising and returning to a regular sleep routine.

As your kids head back into the classroom this fall, keep the following health tips in mind to give them their best shot at a banner year.

Eat Right

There’s a definitive link between the things your kids eat and the way they perform, and this is especially true when it comes to academics. Students who perform well in school are more likely to avoid soda, start each day with breakfast and consume fruits or vegetables at least once per day than their lower-performing peers.

Also, the earlier you help your kids adopt healthy dietary habits, the better the chances they continue to make smart choices later in life. Try letting your children help in the kitchen, and especially when it comes to packing school lunches. There’s a certain sense of pride that comes with eating something they had a hand in making, so participating in the process may make your child more likely to eat what’s on the table. Also, if you have a picky eater, give him or her a choice between several healthy options. That way, your child gets to exert his or her independence, and you get to feel good knowing that at least something healthy is making its way down the hatch.

Establish a Sleep Routine

Adults often turn to coffee to compensate for lost sleep, but when kids don’t get enough Zs, it becomes evident in their behavior and academic performance. For some COVID-19-era students, schedules and routines have become a thing of the past. Some kids may have a hard time adjusting to the regular sleep schedule in-person school demands, but studies show that insufficient sleep may lead to health problems, obesity, poor mental health and subpar performance in school, among other problems.

Infographic about how much sleep kids need

Image Credit: CDC

You can help encourage your child to get back on a regular sleep schedule by implementing a screen-time curfew and adhering to a regular bedtime. Try, too, to model healthy sleeping habits your child can follow.

Make Movement a Priority

Regrettably, much of your child’s school day is sedentary, but this makes physical activity outside of school hours even more of a priority. Students need about an hour of physical activity each day. While sports and athletic clubs are a great way for kids and young adults to get up and get moving, students don’t necessarily need structured activities to accomplish the hour-a-day goal. Everything from walking the dog to taking a family bike ride counts toward those 60 minutes, so make physical activity a regular part of your own routine and your kids will likely follow suit.

Infographic about the importance of kids being active

Image Credit: CDC

Even seemingly small lifestyle changes can help kids hit the books, so prioritize eating right, sleeping regularly and making enough time for exercise as you head back into another school year.

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