In last month’s column, we talked about men’s health. This month, with kids heading back to school, a lifestyle change also occurs for most families. And even if you don’t have kids, it means watching out for them in school zones and so forth.
Besides making the transition back to “school schedules” and getting back to their education, kids also face a lot of stresses and additional health factors that they don’t have to deal with as much during the summer. Remember, kids aren’t just smaller adults. And teenagers, even if they are as tall as some adults, still face the world in a whole different way and with a lot less experience.
So what can we do or be on the watch for with kids to help them when it comes to their health, fitness and safety?
1. Nutrition: This is the foundation for their health and they are counting on you whether they realize it or not. Be proactive about decisions on what goes into their bodies. If you are letting them eat high sugar foods for breakfast because it’s convenient, then you’re setting them up for failure in school when their blood sugar crashes and their focus goes with it. On top of that, kids who have better nutritional habits have better immune systems and are better able to sustain themselves–even past the school day and into the evening as they take care of homework, chores, family time and more. I still look back at my high school that had eight vending machines outside. When lunch lines were long it was far easier for kids just to go buy candy bars and soda. Doing this repeatedly led to a lot of bad habits and poor health for those who chose that route. Looking back, I’m disappointed that the school even allowed something like that.
2. Germs: Going to school means exposure to far more germs than normal. Reminding your kids of the importance of simple things like washing their hands can make a big difference when a “bug” starts going around the school.
3. Hydration: The simplest way to help fight the physical/mental/emotional stress of school is to make sure kids stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day makes a huge difference. Teach kids to drink consistently—if they wait until they are thirsty it’s actually too late as they are already becoming dehydrated.
4. Increase sleep: During the summer kids run on a lot of adrenaline when going to the pool, being with friends and family vacations, etc. At school they are being asked to focus for hours on end. Even adding another 30 minutes per night can sometimes make all the difference in the world…even if they don’t like going to bed earlier.
5. Exercise consistently: Yes, kids and teens need to work out. It’s been proven over and over how fitness levels impact kids overall health, alertness and stress levels. And, they start forming habits now that carry over into adulthood. Even if your kid(s) don’t play organized sports, just getting them to stay active is huge gift to them both now and later in life.
6. Martial arts lessons: When your child or teen attends the right martial arts program, there are a world of benefits on top of fitness including focus/concentration skills, improved confidence and self-esteem, and even reduced fear of failure. These are all factors that lead to success at home and school.
Bonus: The above tips were for kids. But, as adults, which of these (or adult versions) are we ignoring for ourselves? Part of teaching kids great health and fitness is through role modeling. Today more than ever, it’s important to lead by example!
For more information on health, safety and fitness, contact Jeff Dousharm at Jeff@paradigmimpactgroup.com