Physical activity is important to the overall health and well-being of everyone, including school-age children. The benefits are well documented and include significant reduction in health risks, building and maintenance of strong bones and muscles, improved health-related fitness, and positive social and mental health. Increasing scientific evidence suggests that healthier students are also better learners, and physical activity can improve academic achievement.
Schools are in an ideal position to influence children's health through increased physical activity, because school is where most children spend the majority of their time outside of home. A School Wellness Policy can help guide these efforts.
Give thanks for good health this Thanksgiving by adding a new physically active tradition to your family's celebration.
It's not a far-fetched idea. In fact, Thanksgiving Day boasts more run/walk races than any other day of the year. A record high 726 Thanksgiving Day races were recorded nationwide in 2016, with nearly a million finishers!
We've rounded up a few ideas for you to consider locally, including some tips for a do-it-yourself event at home.
If you work with children 5 years of age and younger, you probably already know that active play is important. But how much active play time do they need each day? What does "physical activity" for this age group look like? And how can you encourage active play if children are reluctant?
Let's look at the key recommendations for child care providers at specific ages, as well as tips for reaching those recommendations in your daycare center, preschool, or home.
Habits established in early childhood last a lifetime. We know that ages 5 years and under are particularly critical in developing healthy behaviors and attitudes towards food and physical activity. What can child care providers do to encourage healthy habits? That's as easy as ABC...
We often say, "Everyone needs 1 hour of physical activity every day," but best practices in early childhood care call for even more active play. Young children need 120 minutes, or 2 hours, of active play every day, both indoors and outdoors. The benefits are plentiful. Active play:
Everybody needs at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity—enough to feel your heart pumping and increased breathing—every day. Luckily, we don't need to get all 60 minutes at once.
Healthy workplaces stock a fitness area or activity room for employees to use during the workday. The return on investment in employees' physical activity is significant—improvements in employee health as well as improvements in productivity, absenteeism, and morale.
A healthy diet keeps your child’s body and mind functioning at their best. For young athletes, healthy eating is essential to maintaining energy and focus for practice and games as well as replenishing nutrients afterwards.
Before you head to the drive-thru or pack sweet treats and Gatorade for the team, check out these simple, healthy alternatives for healthy eating before and after sports:
Before Practice and Games
Sports practice sometimes conflicts with the usual family meal time, but you’ll want to feed your child before heading over to the field. Healthy carbohydrates are a smart choice to give kids energy. If kids are eating roughly an hour before playing, include some protein to help keep them from getting hungry again too soon. Examples:
- Whole wheat crackers
- Popcorn (plain, no butter or additives)
- Peanut butter sandwich with banana
- Yogurt cups or tubes with fruit and/or granola
- Grapes and cheese
Some healthy foods can actually upset stomachs when kids are active. Avoid vegetables like sweet potatoes, potatoes, and bell peppers right before games and practices.
What exactly do we mean when we talk about physical activity at daycare and preschool? How do you know if you provide enough of the "right" kind of opportunities to help kids get moving? What can you do to encourage more active play?
In short, aim for a wide variety of activities that get all kids moving at the same time. Sprinkle activities throughout the day in age-appropriate lengths of time.
There is some variation in recommendations for children five years and under. We often refer to the best practice of 120 minutes per day, recommended by the National Assocation for Sport and Physical Education, knowing that this is more than the "1 hour" recommended for ages 6 to adult.
We're in the habit of celebrating with food—usually sweets and candy with lots of empty calories. But it's easy to rethink how you party in the classroom or at day care when you're equipped with fun alternatives that kids love. We've got 15 fun and healthy school celebration ideas to help!
Why healthier classroom celebrations?
Why does your school or child care center need a healthy school celebrations policy that extends to birthdays, holidays, and special events? "A birthday is just once a year," we might think—but if you have 25 or more student birthdays, and add in Halloween, winter break, Valentine's Day, the 100th day of school, the last day of school...you can easily accumulate 7 full weeks of sugary treats!
Lots of us express a desire to "be healthier," and to "raise healthy children," but what does that mean, exactly? Health and wellness tips may be widely available, but sometimes they feel contradictory and confusing. How do you know which sources to trust?
Our friends at Let's Go! created a simple slogan to help you remember four ways to be healthy every day: 5-2-1-0. These research-proven recommendations come from experts at the American Academy of Pediatrics, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Like adults, kids need to stay active throughout the day. Active kids feel less stressed, sleep better at night, gain more focus, are more ready to learn, and develop healthy bones, muscles, and joints.
One way to make sure that children in your care are getting enough movement throughout the day is to incorporate movement into learning. Below is a list of suggested resources. Check them out and get moving!