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Healthy Habits Mean More than Handwashing

Please keep washing your hands, but how well-rounded are your kids when it comes to whole health?

By The fit Team at Sanford Health

Good hygiene and eating vegetables are a great way to start your child’s whole health journey, but there’s more to it than just that. fit’s unique platform separates the concept of whole health into four pillars of wellness that help your child understand and enjoy the full spectrum of health.

Recharge Your Energy

Everyone agrees that kids have a lot of energy! But is their energy focused? Adequate sleep and taking time to relax throughout the day are essential to maintain the energy needed to support impulse control and attention. Your child’s energy levels also affect what and how much they eat, as well as their moods and emotions.During sleep, their bodies grow and their brains process information. The Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children, ages 6-12, get 9 to 12 hours of sleep on a regular basis. Adolescents, ages 12-18, need 8 to 10 hours. Sleep hygiene—creating and following a healthy bedtime routine is the first step to adequate sleep. First, children need to wind-down about an hour before bed—that means to shut off screens and replace physical activity with quiet, calm activities such as reading, journaling, or creative hobbies. Of course, the routine should include personal hygiene such as a bath or shower and brushing teeth. At school, educators can talk about the importance of sleep with their kids, and provide them with a chart to support the creation and fulfillment of a bedtime routine.

Taking time for rest and relaxation throughout the day also supports the right kind of energy for focus and impulse control. Take a quiet break with a mindfulness activity, reading, drawing, or simply do a puzzle to recharge and help your kids get the kind of energy they need to support healthy behaviors.

Move Your Body

It’s no secret that regular physical activity is a cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle and overall fitness. The benefits of movement, for all of us, fall under three categories: physical health, emotional health, and academic readiness. Physical activity improves strength, endurance, bone and muscle health, and even supports healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Regular physical activity is also connected to reduction in fatigue and better sleep! If you have ever taken a brisk walk outside when feeling stressed or anxious, you’ve likely experienced how movement supports emotional health. Movement and physical activity increase the amount of mood-enhancing brain chemicals our bodies produce. Learning, including academic progress, behavior, and cognitive abilities are all impacted by physical activity.

You don’t have to spend hours on physical education to encourage movement. While moderate to vigorous physical activity is beneficial, making time to move many ways and many times throughout the day will set your kids on the path to realizing the benefits of regular physical activity. A good rule of thumb is to do some kind of physical activity for 10-15 minutes each hour. Go for a walk, stretch, or take a brain break with a fitBoost!

Motivate Your Mood

With so much going on in the world, it’s important for kids to understand their feelings and emotions. Educating your kiddos on how to identify their feelings, as well as coping strategies to apply when in need, will greatly benefit them both in and out of the classroom. Take a moment to think about all the disruptions you’ve experienced while instructing. What if your kids had a way to individually cope with their feelings, rather than disrupting the class? This may seem ideal, but how do educators, who have so much on their plate already, take the time to check in and aid their kids with their emotional health?

fit has many simple and effective resource like the How I Feel printable that challenges your children to identify how they feel, why they feel this way, and then brainstorm a few things they can do to put a smile on their face. Walk through this activity with your kids together, or encourage them to use it on their own when they’re needing to work through their feelings and emotions.

Think Your Food

It’s important for children to eat nutritious foods, so teaching kids about making good choices is paramount. A nutrient-rich diet promotes both physical and mental health while helping your kids to feel energized throughout their day. Educating kids on the importance of positive food choices now can aid them in creating healthy habits that span a lifetime. Help them to understand that food is fuel! Food is what you eat and drink to give your body energy to move and think. Rather than classifying foods as good or bad, encourage children to stop and think, then choose the best fuel (i.e., foods that supply nutrition and energy, rather than empty calories). Healthy eating habits are more likely to stick when introduced early, so take time to discuss those habits both in and out of the classroom.

Remember, kids aren’t born with a craving for sugar, or a disinterest in broccoli. As educators and role models, you have the ability to greatly influence their choices and foster a healthy relationship with food. Learning about food with your kids can have so many different appearances, too. Make simple recipes like ants on a log, have the kids bring in their favorite snacks for show-and-tell, or test their knowledge on healthy snack choices to keep them engaged and focused.

fit Team at Sanford Health Links



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