It seems that the kids are not all right, at least based on a survey on the health and well-being of US children. The National Survey of Children’s Health revealed that there’s been increasing rates of obesity and a decline in daily physical activity among American children over the past five years. The status of children’s physical health is already alarming, but it seems that mental health is also a big concern thanks to increased rates of anxiety and depression among kids.
The good news is that it’s never too late to turn things around. While they’re still young, students can learn and get used to healthy habits that can change their lives. To develop healthy habits in kids, here’s what you need to do:
Make it easier to eat healthy food
Kids are more likely to choose sweets over their fruits and veggies. However, you can teach the value of a balanced and nutritious meal by making the choice easy and entertaining for students.
To encourage students to eat healthy in cafeterias, we at My Healthy School Project recommend getting creative when presenting and preparing nutritious dishes. For instance, you can combine vegetables and classic kiddie favorites by preparing veggie mac and cheese or making cauliflower crust pizza. You can also make salads more enjoyable by arranging a salad bar that allows them to mix and match their vegetable options. By presenting healthy food in an appealing way, it’s easier to get kids to eat more nutritiously.
Keep exercise fun and simple
Due to rising obesity rates, it’s important to teach students how to enjoy regular physical activity starting from a young age.
The good news is that kids don’t need to have a workout program or join their school’s sports team to be able to exercise regularly. Instead of subjecting them to exercise routines that they may not even like, a feature by WeightWatchers recommends walking 10,000 steps a day as a simple workout that anyone can do. This type of exercise is equivalent to five 30-minute workouts every week, and can be easily integrated into kids’ schedules through fun family walks in the park, or through outdoor class activities.
Give kids enough time for play
The American Heart Association (AHA) reported that about 60% of children don’t have good physical fitness and health. Unfortunately, poor well-being can affect their physical health, academic achievements, mental wellness, and self-esteem.
The AHA stated that more kids are suffering from poor health because they get distracted by screen time and thus become more sedentary. Given that children use their devices for recreation and entertainment, you can reduce their screen time by allowing them to have fun outdoors. Try scheduling a few hours every day for outdoor games and activities to encourage kids to get up and get moving.
Personalize their stress relief strategies
Young people’s mental health should not be overlooked simply because of their age. After all, students can also struggle mentally due to home, social, and school stressors.
Given that stress is inevitable, Verywell Family suggests teaching kids stress management techniques, so that they can deal with their mental and emotional burdens in a healthy manner. You can encourage them to experiment with various techniques, like journaling or talking to a friend, until they find the one that works best for them. After all, students have different personalities, and some may prefer to go inward while the others may prefer to vent out their frustrations with people they trust.
Now is the best time to teach healthy habits to children. With a bit of creativity and lots of encouragement, you can instill good lifestyle habits that will transform the lives of students.