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Health and Wellness: Embrace healthy habits as children return to school

By Lindsay Certonio - Special to the Daily Herald | Aug 17, 2022

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Did you know that, on average, school-aged kids have the common cold five to six times a year? Starting a new school year brings new health risks to children. This year, get a head start on healthy habits to lower your child’s risk of getting sick.

Being sick is no fun, especially when you are just starting to get back to your normal school routine. Most kids will develop an illness within the first month of going back to school because they are entering an environment that they haven’t been in for a few months. In a classroom setting, kids spend roughly six hours of close contact with one another every day.

Knowing how to keep your kids healthy can be tricky. Some of the more common illnesses to look out for include COVID-19, the common cold, pink eye and strep throat. Let’s go over how eating well, staying active and getting enough sleep can help give your kids an immunity boost.

Eat well

Getting enough nutrients in your children’s diet is one key to keeping them healthy. You should look for foods that are rich in antioxidants and vitamins A, C, D and E. WebMD recommends drinking tea and eating broccoli, red peppers, sweet potatoes and garlic. These foods are rich in vitamins and may help boost your immune system to fight off illnesses.

Your child’s diet should include a variety of foods like meat, vegetables, fruit, grains and dairy to receive optimal nutrition, best delivered in a nutrient-dense breakfast and a packed lunch to bring to school. And if your kids are picky eaters, there are supplements you can give them instead to ensure they get all of their vitamins.

Stay active

During the summer, there are countless activities to keep children active but they can start to slow down during the school year. There is no doubt that being in school is a busy time for everyone, but scheduling an hour of activity every day can help your child’s health. Some sports that you can get your child involved in during the school year include soccer, basketball, dance and baseball. Most cities offer recreational teams that you can sign your child up for. 

By exercising every day for an hour, children build their bodies to be able to fight off illnesses. According to the CDC, children who exercise every day “improve cardiorespiratory fitness, build strong bones and muscles, control weight, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and reduce the risk of developing health conditions.” 

Get enough sleep

Did you know that when you are asleep, your body releases a protein called cytokines that help fight off infections? If you are not getting enough sleep, your body is limited to the amount of cytokines it can release and may not be able to fight off infections as easily. Sleeping is also the time that your body is able to spend all of its energy on repairing itself.

Late nights and early mornings can be harmful to your child’s health. Kids Health recommends that kids ages 6 to 13 get an average of nine to 12 hours of sleep, while kids 14 to 17 should be maintaining eight to 10. A couple of weeks before school starts, try making it a habit for your children to go to bed early.

Maintaining your child’s nutrients, exercise and sleep can be the difference between health and sickness. It takes about two months to form a habit, so start incorporating healthy meals, physical activities and enough rest into your child’s routine now to start reaping the benefits as soon as possible.

Lindsey Certonio is a project manager at Stage Marketing, a full-service content marketing agency based in Provo.

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