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Each year, Children’s Health Month reminds us of the importance of protecting our children’s health and promoting wellness and fitness. You are the most important person to support and promote your child’s health and wellness, so it is important to place trust in us, your family’s health care providers to support you and your child throughout their childhood.
Your child’s health includes physical, mental, and social well-being. Most parents know the basics of keeping children healthy, like offering them healthy foods, making sure they get enough sleep and exercise and ensuring their safety.
Ways to Improve Your Children’s Health
- Vaccinations (immunizations) are a way of creating immunity to certain diseases. Vaccinations are safe, cost-effective, and not only protect the individual but others around them. Scheduling your child’s flu vaccine in the upcoming week or too is essential to them maintaining their health through the winter months. If your child is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine you can schedule their vaccine with their pediatrician at the same time as their flu vaccine as well.
- Go Outdoors. Studies show that spending time in green, natural environments can have a positive impact on a children’s mental and physical health.
- Increase Your Fruits and Vegetables. There are tons of benefits for adding fruits and veggies in your children’s meal. Fruits and vegetables contain essential nutrients needed for growth and good health.
- Teach Good Oral Health Habits Early. Taking good care of your child’s teeth helps freshen breath, improve gum health, and helps build strong and healthy teeth. In the mornings and evenings prompt your child to brush their teeth.
- Annual Wellness Visits. It is extremely important for your children to get their annual wellness visits. A child’s physical should not be mistaken for their annual wellness visit. These visits are a chance for us to check your child’s development. They are also a good time to catch or prevent problems.
Other than checkups, school-age children should be seen for:
- Significant weight gain or loss
- Sleep problems or change in behavior
- Fever higher than 102
- Rashes or skin infections
- Frequent sore throats
- Breathing problems
- Daily Physical Activity. Regular physical activity can help children and adolescents improve cardiorespiratory fitness, build strong bones and muscles, control weight, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and reduce the risk of developing health conditions.
Physical Activity and Fitness
Did you know that only about 1 in 4 children get the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity per day?
Participation in all types of physical activity drops dramatically as a child’s age and grade in school increase. It is important that physical activity be a regular part of family life. Here is some information to help you keep your children healthy and active.
The Benefits of Physical Activity:
Being physically active means moving enough to breathe heavily, be short of breath, feel warm, and sweat. Exercise is vital to the health and well-being of children. Physical activity helps build and maintains healthy bones, muscles, and joints, for example. It can help keep a healthy body mass index and reduce the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease later in life. It can help children fall asleep quickly and sleep well.
Beyond benefits to the body, physical activity also boosts a child’s mental and behavioral health. It increases a child’s enthusiasm and optimism and boosts self-esteem, school performance, attention, and behavior. It also reduces anxiety, tension, and depression. It can also foster teamwork and friendship when it’s part of an organized sport.
9 Ways to Get Your Children More Active
Parents can play a key role in helping their child become more physically active. Some suggestions:
- Speak with your child’s pediatrician. Keeping open lines of communication with your child’s pediatrician about their progress in school and any issues your child may be having in school is essential. It is important not to wait to speak to their pediatrician until the child’s wellness visit. Addressing any physical or mental health issues that arise in school or out of school early will help with dealing with the issue at hand promptly.
- Emphasize fun. Help your child find a sport that she enjoys. The more she enjoys the activity, the more likely she will be to continue it. Get the entire family involved. It is a great way to spend time together.
- Choose an activity that is developmentally appropriate. For example, a 7- or 8-year-old child is not ready for weightlifting or a 3-mile run, but soccer, bicycle riding, and swimming are all well great activities for kids this age.
- Provide a safe environment. Make sure your child’s equipment and where they practice, or play is safe. Make sure your child’s clothing is comfortable and appropriate for the activity.
- Provide active toys. Young children especially need easy access to balls, jump ropes, and other active toys.
- Be a role model. Children who regularly see their parents enjoying sports and physical activity are more likely to do so themselves.
- Play with your children. Help them learn a new sport or another physical activity. Or just have fun together by going for a walk, hike, or bike ride.
- Set limits. Limit screen time, including time spent on TV, videos, computers, and video games, each day. Use the free time for more physical activities.
- Make time for exercise. Some children are so overscheduled with homework, music lessons, and other planned activities that they do not have time for exercise.
Exercise along with a balanced diet provides the foundation for a healthy, active life. One of the most important things parents can do is encourage healthy habits in their children early in life. It is not too late to start. Ask your child’s doctor about tools for healthy living today.
Schedule a wellness visit for your child and speak with their pediatrician about the best options tailored to your child’s individual needs.