Back to School Tips for Keeping Your Child Healthy

Like some parents, you may look forward to the routine of school schedules, or perhaps you are one of those who dreads the end of summer. Regardless of which side you’re on, you know that it’s important to keep your child healthy throughout the school year, or as much of it as possible. Our providers at Danvers Family Doctors, P.C., share their advice for keeping your kids safe and healthy this fall and throughout the school year. Here are some of their tips.

Make breakfast a habit

Eating a healthy breakfast — one packed with low-fat protein and complex carbohydrates — helps not only curb hunger pains at school but can also improve your child’s academic performance and behavior, according to numerous studies.

Get physical

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children need about 60 minutes of physical activity each day. Unfortunately, only a third of children in the United States are active every day.

As a result, it’s not surprising to learn that childhood obesity has soared over the last four decades. A third of children and teens are overweight or obese. Making time for a child to be physically active every day can help reduce their chances of becoming overweight and can help them avoid a host of health issues that go along with it.  

Try walking or biking to school in the morning, or after dinner. Play hoops or tag in the afternoon. Take your kids swimming or dancing. Make sports and physical activity part of your family routine.

Provide a healthy lunch

A healthy lunch helps ensure that your children get the nutrients they need to sustain them throughout the day. Whether it’s something you pack or arrange for your child to eat at school, a healthy lunch sets them up to have the energy and ability to focus throughout the day. Plus, it reduces their risk of obesity.

A healthy lunch should contain some combination of fruits, vegetables, whole-grain foods, low-fat dairy products, and lean protein. Foods to avoid include products high in saturated fat, sugar, and sodium.

Put down electronic devices

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, children spend more than seven hours a day in front of a screen. Just think of all the other important things they could be doing.

To encourage your children to put down their devices, set limits on how long they can use them. The NIH suggests no more than two hours a day. Turn off the TV at dinner and set a good example yourself. If your children see you on your phone all the time, they will mimic that behavior.

Don’t load up backpacks

Buy your child a backpack that fits their frame and provides ample support. Look for models that have wide, padded shoulder straps. Consider a backpack with wheels. With computers, lunches, snacks, books, and other essential and nonessential school supplies, that backpack can start to weigh your child down.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that your child’s backpack not weigh more than 10-20% of your child’s body weight.

Get enough sleep

It’s crucial for your child to get an adequate amount of sleep every night to be successful at school. Children who don’t get enough sleep have trouble concentrating. According to the AAP, kids who don’t get enough sleep have lower grades and a higher rate of absenteeism and tardiness.

The recommended amount of sleep for elementary school-aged children is about 10-12 hours and for teens is 8-10 hours.

For more information on how to keep your kids healthy throughout the school year, call us at Danvers Family Doctors, P.C., or make an appointment online.

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