The last few weeks our “Wellness Wednesday” blogs have featured some back to school health tips, we conclude our series this week with tips on fitting in family fitness.

The new school year is a great time to start new healthy habits like fitting in fitness. According to the CDC, children should aim to get 60 minutes of activity a day. By making fitness a family affair you can help your child meet this daily goal. (Plus, you will get fit too!) Here are some ideas to help get you started:

CDC Burn to Learn

 

1. Limit screen time for the family. Make it family “policy” that activity comes before screen time (TV, computer, video games). The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children have less than two hours of screen time per day, and viewing should be avoided for children under 2. An interesting fact, in 1999 statistics showed children and adolescents spent 3 hours a day watching television. Today kids are now spending more than 7 hours per day using televisions, computers, phones and other electronic devices for entertainment. As a family, set some guidelines for screen time.

2. Create a family fitness calendar and idea jar. As a family sit down and brain storm ideas for physical activity. Write down each idea on a separate piece of paper and place papers in a jar. Have each family member draw a piece of paper from the “activity jar”. Looking at your family calendar, schedule the “activity” into your week. Some fun activities suggestions to get you started:

    • Game of tag
    • Hiking
    • Kick ball
    • Frisbee
    • Tennis
    • Scavenger hunt
    • Geocaching
    • Swimming
    • Walking
    • Biking
    • Skating
    • Basketball
    • Hop Scotch
    • Hula hoop

Display your fitness calendar on your refrigerator (or other central location)—not only will this help remind everyone of the plans; it shows your children the value you place on good health.

3. Active toys. It doesn’t cost a lot to purchase a few toys that encourage your child to be active. Things like balls, Frisbees, jump ropes, hula hoops, skate boards and bikes are great toys that encourage activity.

4. Enroll in an activity. There are many activities for children through the school districts, YMCA’s and community education. A helpful hint: make sure the activities your child enrolls in is an activity he/she likes and focus on the “fun” of the activity—not the performance.

5. Model, model, model. Children follow the behaviors of parents, if your child sees you active; chances are they will want to join you!

These are just a few tips to help you and your family walk the steps on the road to fitness. The important thing to remember is make fitness “fun” and not something else you/your child needs to check off the to do list. You are creating habits that will last a lifetime for your family. The gift of good health is the best gift!

 

No Bake Chocolate Energy Balls

August 21st, 2014 | Posted by admin in Recipes - (0 Comments)

Quick, yummy, easy and best of all healthy! These No Bake Energy balls are the perfect fit for back to school breakfasts and snacks on the go!

Ingredients
1/4 cup almonds (unroasted) or you can substitute any kind of nut or seed
3/4 cup old fashioned rolled oats (uncooked)
2 Tablespoons ground flax seed
2 to 3 Tablespoons cocoa powder, depending on how chocolatey you want them
10 oz dates
1 to 2 Tablespoons coconut oil, melted

Place almonds in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. Add oats, flax seed, and cocoa powder. Pulse a few more times to combine. Place dates into the food processor and turn on for about 30 seconds, or until finely copped. Mixture should be crumbly at this point. Drizzle 1 Tablespoon coconut oil over the top of the date mixture and process for 5-10 seconds. Test mixture by squeezing between your finger and thumb. If it’s too dry to stick together add more coconut oil (up to 1 Tablespoon more).

Using your hands roll mixture into 1″ balls. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes or until firm before enjoying. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Recipe and Photo Credit

With school just around the corner, our “Wellness Wednesday” blogs will feature some back to school health tips. Our back to school basics series continues with nutrition.

Nutrition is an important factor in school success. Studies have shown that children who eat healthy, balanced breakfasts and lunches are more alert throughout the school day and earn higher grades than those who have an unhealthy diet. Here’s how to get started on the nutrition fast track to a high-energy, health-smart day.

Start with Powerful Protein. Protein is often missing in our morning meals. Protein helps us with our energy, focus and satiety. When it comes to protein choices, go lean: a slice or two of Canadian bacon, an egg, a slice of deli meat or cheese, a container of low-fat yogurt or peanut butter on toast.

  1. Go with Whole Grains. The fiber and nutrients in whole grains provide long lasting energy. Whole grain choices would include oatmeal, bread, muffins, waffles and pancakes. (Don’t get fooled by grain items– check the list of ingredients to ensure that the food item is actually a “whole” grain.)
  2. Add Fruits and Vegetables. Starting the day with fruits and vegetables is a great step towards healthy eating. With fresh, frozen and canned options—there are unlimited possibilities.
  3. Beat the Breakfast Rush. Some days just getting out the door in the morning is a feat in itself, not to mention making sure everyone has breakfast. Here are a few tips to make the morning rush a bit easier:
  • – Get organized the night before. Make your breakfast plan as you clean up from dinner. Set the table with bowls and spoons for cereal. Get out a pan for pancakes or a blender for smoothies. Prepare muffin or waffle mix so it’s all ready to cook in the morning.
  • – Keep breakfast simple. On busy days, get the family going with something as quick as a bowl of whole-grain cereal with a banana or slice of leftover pizza with orange juice. (A peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole wheat bread is often a go to with our family.)
  • – Pack breakfast to go. If there’s no time to eat at home, plan a nutritious option to eat in the car or bus. Things like a banana, bag of trail mix and a carton of milk would make a perfect meal on the run. Another option is to check to see if breakfast is available at your child’s school.

 

Remember, when children (and adults) skip breakfast, their brains and bodies suffer all day long. If you would like additional resources on nutrition, please check out www.choosemyplate.gov or www.eatright.org.

Please join us next week as we conclude our back to school health tips series.

Source: this blog post was adapted from http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=6747.

With school just around the corner, our “Wellness Wednesday” blogs will feature some back to school health tips. Our back to school basics series continues with tips for establishing a bedtime routine.

1. Start early. Often on summer break, our children don’t follow a regular sleep schedule. Begin your school sleep schedule 2-3 weeks prior to the first day of school.

2.Decide a bed time. To figure out your child’s bedtime, count back 10 hours* from your family’s standard rising time.  An example, if your family needs to get up by 6:30 a.m., your child’s bedtime would be 8:30 p.m.

a. If your child has been going to bed later than this during the summer, start adjusting the bed time by 15 to 30 minutes every 3 to 4 days. If your child has been going to bed at 10 p.m. and sleeping until 8 a.m. here is a sample schedule:

  • Days 1-3: Bedtime 9:45 p.m.   Wake Up 7:45 a.m.
  • Days 4-7: Bedtime 9:30 p.m.   Wake Up 7:30 a.m.
  • Days 8-11: Bedtime 9:15 p.m.     Wake Up 7:15 a.m.
  • Days 12-15: Bedtime 9:00 p.m.   Wake up 7:00 a.m.
  • Days 16-19: Bedtime 8:45 p.m.   Wake up 6:45 a.m.
  • Days 20-on: Bedtime 8:30 p.m.  Wake up 6:30 a.m.

3. Turn off electronics. All electronics (TV, video games, computers and cell phones) should be shut off an hour before bedtime.

  • Technology affects our ability to fall asleep by exciting our brain.
  • Also, certain technology (like computer games, emails, etc.) can make our body tense. As we tense up, it creates stress which can stimulate our bodies into a “fight or flight” response, and as a result, cortisol, a stress hormone produced by the adrenal gland, is released, making it hard to fall (or stay) asleep.

4. Say NO to caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant that can keep us up at night. It is best if children don’t consume any caffeine, but if they do, it should occur before lunchtime.

5. Create a quiet environment. If a child uses a night light, make sure it is a soft, dim light. Light (especially light from electronics) can pass through the retina into a part of the hypothalamus (the area of the brain that controls several sleep activities) and delay the release of the sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin.

6. Establish a bedtime routine. A consistent nighttime routine provides security and stability for children.

Example: bath, light snack, brush teeth, story time, lights out

TIP #1:  Many children will try to “push” the limits when it comes to bedtime. Using a timer, set for 5 minutes, along with a verbal reminder that in 5 minutes bath time will be starting, often helps with the transition to the bedtime routine.

TIP #2: Keep last “goodnights” brief. Often when our sweet children are tucked in bed, they will test the limits by “calling” out to us. If you can be firm when it comes to bedtime, it will save you many frustrations.

7.  Practice good sleep habits. Children model their parents. Getting enough sleep is as important for your health, as it is your child’s.

Insiders Tip: When implementing a school sleep schedule, carry it a step further and practice the morning school routine. This will help make the transition from summer to school easier for all.

Making sure our children get enough sleep is one of the best things we can do to ensure their school success. Children who get enough sleep are more attentive, have more energy, and maintain good physical health. Hopefully these strategies will help you and your child prepare for this upcoming school year.

Please join us next week as we continue our back to school health tips series.

*This is just an average suggested amount of sleep, every child is different—if you have questions on the recommended amount of sleep your child needs, please check with your child’s health care provider.

With school just around the corner, our “Wellness Wednesday” blogs will feature some back to school health tips. Our back to school basics series continues with a health checklist:

Annual checkup: Remember to bring all health-related forms required along to the appointment.  If your child is participating in school sports, your health care provider may have to sign a release form.

Immunizations: Make sure that your student’s immunizations are up to date. For more information on immunization schedules, click here. Other resources could include your school district, local health department and your child’s health care provider.

Annual dental exam: According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, more than 40% of kids have some form of tooth decay by the time they start kindergarten.

Vision screening: According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, more than 12 million children suffer from visual impairment. One in 20 preschoolers is affected, and one in four school-age children. Your child should receive the first official eye exam at age 3, and an eye exam should be repeated at every well-child visit. If you notice your child squinting to read or exhibiting any other eye problems, notify your health care provider. Also, make sure your child uses protective eyewear while playing sports.

Hearing screening: If your child is listening to the television or music at a very loud volume, or tends to favor one ear over the other when listening to you speak, it may be a sign of hearing loss. Notify your child’s health care provider of any concerns you may have regarding your child’s hearing.

Special health concerns: If your child has any special medical needs, contact the school before the school year begins.

  • Medications: If your child needs to take medication during the school day, it is important to be familiar with your child’s school policy. Even if your child only takes medications at home, the school nurse should know.
  • Allergies: If your child has any allergies, it is important to notify the school so any precautions can be implemented.
  • Physical restrictions/limitations: It is important that you inform the school of any physical restrictions/limitations your child may have. Ex: Asthma, scoliosis brace, heart murmur?

Emergency Contacts: It is good to review your child’s list of emergency contacts on an annual basis. Also, don’t forget to notify the school throughout the year of any changes in the contact information.

The above list is a basic health checklist for back to school, please check with your health care provider for recommendations specific to your child.

Please join us next week as we continue our back to school health tips series.