By Genna Ringler, Alliance for a Healthier Generation Youth Ambassador
During the school year it can be difficult to make healthy choices all the time, especially when school and sports are stressful. However, it’s important to remember that the way we eat and how active we are affects our ability to learn in school and perform in sports.
No matter how busy I may be during the school year, I make sure to exercise for at least an hour a day and I also try to fuel my body with something healthy, such as fruits, veggies, or protein. Remember: fruit is nature’s original fast food!
But after the school year is over, the days become longer and the warm weather allows kids to get outside more often. Follow my tips to help kids stay healthy—whether it is winter, spring, summer or fall!
1. Find activities that keep you healthy year-round
For the past seven years, swimming has been my favorite sport. Unlike many sports, swimming is a year-round endeavor that doesn’t end with the school day or even the school year—it continues every day after school and during the summer.
Staying active physically is important, but eating healthy is also a key component to my success in the pool and in life. Even small changes in my eating habits have really made a difference for me this past year. From making choices such as water instead of juice and salad instead of pizza, I’ve felt a significant change in my energy levels. It is imperative for kids to make living a healthy lifestyle a priority. Even if it is difficult at times, I know it has a tremendous effect on the way I perform in both in the pool and in school.
2. Take advantage of longer, warmer days
During the summer, many kids are less busy and that means that they are able to enjoy the outdoors more than ever, and that they gain many more opportunities to exercise and be healthy. Instead of having a couple of hours after school that are jam-packed with homework and sports practices, summer allows kids to have more time to play outside.
3. Catch up on your zzz’s
Leading a healthy lifestyle is not just about exercising and eating nutritious foods (although they do play a big part); there are other habits that tie into a healthy life. Sleep is a major part of our overall health. The school year calls for many early mornings and late nights. Summer months enable youth to catch up on sleep, which leads to increased energy levels and physical healing that our bodies long for.
4. Look for ways to get moving in your community
My family and community have helped me to stay healthy during the summer by providing a safe environment to be active in and by having fresh produce available at my fingertips. For example, I swim at the local pool every day and I ran cross country and track at the local recreation center for several years.
Local recreation departments have also begun to host day camps for young kids that involve swimming, biking, hiking, and many more outdoor activities. Schools and communities could better this system by expanding opportunities for day trips to various parks where kids could experience different parts of nature.
By staying on a consistent schedule, I’m able to maintain healthy habits throughout the summer months. These habits have allow me to get more sleep, exercise regularly, and eat foods that are both nutritious and delicious. I hope these tips will help you and the kids in your life have a happier, healthier summer, too!