Back-to-School Health Checklist

August 06, 2012

Include healthy eating, physical activity, and rest in your family’s schedule

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (August 6, 2012) Does your back-to-school checklist include a health section? It should.

The beginning of the school year is a great time to establish healthy routines and habits. Emphasizing healthy choices will help your child this school year and may help establish a lifetime of healthy living.

“As you shop for school supplies and clothes, schedule after-school activities and care, and plan to attend parent orientation, be sure to plan for healthy lifestyle choices, too,” says Allen Peabody, M.D., pediatrician at TriStar Centennial Women’s & Children’s hospital in Nashville, Tenn. “Eating well, staying active, getting enough rest, and encouraging habits to reduce the spread of germs are all important to discuss and plan for as families start a new school year.”

Planning for meal and snack time is a great place to start. Parents and caregivers can encourage healthy lunch and snacking choices to help children maintain a balanced diet and healthy energy level.

“Children should have three balanced meals a day and most will have snacks and dessert, too,” Peabody said. “Be sure to include fruits and vegetables on their plates and in their lunch boxes. You can find lots of healthy kid-friendly recipes and snack ideas online, in magazines, and from your physician.”

Daily routines often change when school begins and that impacts how much exercise children and adults alike are able or willing to maintain as summer winds down. The beginning of the school year is a great time to emphasize the importance of keeping active throughout the year.

“Most children are active all summer long, getting the regular exercise they need to stay fit and healthy,” said Peabody. “In addition to after school activities and neighborhood play time, consider adding family play time to your schedule a couple times a week. You could take a walk, go for a bike ride, or play a game of tag.”

Schedules should also help children maintain a regular sleeping period, including maintaining a consistent bed time.

“I can’t overemphasize the importance of children getting enough sleep on a regular basis,” he said. “School age children need at least 10-14 hours of sleep per night and adolescents need 8-12 hours of sleep per night. Make sure you allot enough time for activities, dinner, and homework before bedtime.”

Finally, Peabody recommends everyone review healthy habits that will help prevent the spread of germs at school and at home. Colds and illnesses can spread quickly in school and child care environments.

Washing hands regularly, covering your sneeze, and not sharing drinks are a few simple ways to prevent the spread of germs,” Peabody said. “You can also talk with your physician about incorporating a multivitamin in your child’s diet and elect to have your child receive the flu vaccination.”

He reminds parents to call their physician when a child is feeling sick to see if an appointment is necessary and if a child can go to school without risking getting those around him or her sick.

For more information on children’s health or to schedule an appointment with a pediatrician, visit TriStarHealth.com or call (615) 342-1919.

Celebrating 44 years of providing quality healthcare to Nashville, Middle Tennessee and the surrounding region, TriStar Centennial Medical Center is a 657-bed comprehensive facility offering medical and surgical programs including behavioral health, 24-hour emergency, heart and vascular, imaging, neurosciences, oncology, orthopaedics, pediatrics, rehabilitation, sleep disorder, and women’s services. An affiliate of TriStar Health, TriStar Centennial Medical Center is home to TriStar Centennial Sarah Cannon Cancer Center, TriStar Centennial Women’s & Children’s, TriStar Centennial Heart & Vascular Center as well as TriStar Centennial Parthenon Pavilion, one of the oldest and largest full-service psychiatric facilities in the region. Round-the-clock care is also available at TriStar Ashland City, a critical access hospital in nearby Cheatham County. The new TriStar Emergency Room at Spring Hill will provide 24-hour emergency care for nearby Spring Hill, Tenn., and surrounding communities when it opens in 2013. For more information about the services offered and health plans accepted by TriStar Centennial Medical Center or TriStar Health, call TriStar MedLine® at (615) 342-1919 or (800) 242-5662, or visit TriStarHealth.com and choose TriStar Centennial Medical Center. TriStar Centennial Medical Center is located at 2300 Patterson Street in Nashville.

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