Back-to-School Healthy Habits for Families

The end of summer means the resumption of routines for most families. This can be a great time to build new healthy habits or to get on track again after a few months’ break. Here are a few areas that can benefit everyone in the household.

Eating Breakfast

Starting the day off as a family might seem impossible with all that needs to be done. But compared to dinner time, there are far fewer activities to draw people away at such an early hour.

There are health reasons to have more than a cup of coffee first thing as well; dietitians say breakfast eaters have lower Body Mass Indexes (BMIs) generally and better attention. Isn’t a focused brain something you and your kids need?

Plan your mornings with a few extra minutes—fifteen is enough—so that everyone in the family can share time in the kitchen for food and conversation in addition to dealing with backpacks, lunches and transportation. You’ll start the day connected and a little more prepared for whatever comes next.

Bedtime Routines

British researchers found that kids without a regular bedtime basically act like they have jet lag. You know how you feel after a long flight? Out of sorts, cranky, confused? No matter our age, inconsistency around sleep makes all of us out of whack.

Summer is difficult for routines, especially with longer daylight and travel thrown into the mix. Part of what makes summer special is staying up later and throwing away the rules. But if you want everyone to get back to their normal, best selves, bedtime is an absolutely crucial place to start.

Dr. Yvonne Kelly from University College, London, says that going to bed at the same time every night is what is most important—even if it is a little later than you’d like. The key is keeping things consistent.

How to get into a good sleep habit? Whether your kids are young or the issue is making yourself get enough sleep, every expert seems to recommend the same thing. Start turning off light sources at least half an hour before bed. That can be big things like bright room lights or televisions, but computer screens and phones also signal your brain to stay alert and awake.

Moving Together

You may have great exercise habits most of the year, but your gym attendance probably slacked off over the summer months. Families can be active on vacation or breaks, trying new activities and moving bodies in all new ways. But once the grind of “real life” returns we can neglect to keep up the momentum.

The American Heart Association recommends that everyone over the age of two get an hour of moderate activity each day. That doesn’t have to be all at once, and you don’t have to do that whole hour together as a family. But moving bodies together is a great way to multitask: exercise and bonding all in one.

Chores like raking leaves can be vigorous and get your heart rate up, but that might not be the best way to make your family excited about exercise. Outdoor activities like biking, hiking and playing tag are ideal, since there are additional benefits from being in nature, but video dance games are sweaty ventures too. Indoors,you can learn ten minute calisthenics routines or take a family class at a local gym.

Have a happy, healthy school (and family) year!


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