A Mini Guide to Back-to-School Health

With children returning to school in person, parents across the country are breathing a collective sigh of relief. Take one look at your social media feed, and you’ll be thrilled – it’s clear! After an endless year of virtual learning, our kids are finally back where they belong. Even though we may be out of practice, it’s time to get serious again about bringing back the school’s nightly routine, filling lunch boxes with nutritious foods, and setting our kids up with healthy habits for success.

Getting started

Every fall, kids trade in the active, carefree summer for long, sedentary school days. Despite research that exercise enhances focus and attention, physical activity often falls at the bottom of the academic agenda. “Our kids’ activity level drops dramatically in the fall, especially with middle and high school students,” says Amy Horton, M.D., MD, chiropractic and associate professor at Northwestern University of Health Sciences (NWHSU). “There are plenty of creative ways to get little movements going during the day without being annoying.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only a quarter of children ages 6 to 17 get sixty minutes of exercise a day, which is the recommended amount. Fortunately, every little bit helps. Children can move their bodies in less obvious ways so as not to disturb their classmates. Subtle movements such as fidgeting, twisting, and stretching can release pent-up energy from inactivity, while tensing and relaxing muscles can prevent joints and muscles from tightening. After a day of sitting and listening, their bodies beg to increase their heart rate and release endorphins. Exercise will push them to the end of their day and get them ready to focus on the math or science tasks that are due the next day.

School-sponsored sports not only keep kids moving every afternoon but also build healthy habits that can extend into adulthood. However, parents should reserve physical sports to ensure that their child is ready to play on the playground or playground. Pediatricians recommend, and most schools require, physical exercise when enrolling in team sports. This is because a lot of changes from year to year. Growth and weight gain can cause a child’s body to have uneven muscles and an unbalanced posture. Annual physical activity can track these changes and work to reduce the chances of a sports injury.

Chiropractic adjustments help normalize function and improve range of motion, but they also work within the nervous system to improve everything from breathing and heart rate to immunity and mental health,” says Horton.

Work environment for children

One area that can determine your child’s general health is his or her condition. Bad posture constricts the artery that runs along the spine. Like a garden hose, when you tighten it, the water flows freely. Roll it up, and you risk cutting off the water supply. Similarly, when we relax, we restrict the flow of blood, oxygen, and nutrients to the brain. In addition to fatigue, brain fog, and loss of focus, this behavior puts harmful stress on joints and muscles.

“If possible for your family, consider creating a homework station,” says Horton, who goes on to explain that sitting at a desk can properly align arms and legs at 90 degrees. “Encouraging children to switch positions every hour – from sitting to standing – can also help them find the correct alignment that redistributes potentially harmful pressure.”

A desktop or docking station that is slightly above eye level will also comfortably align the child’s body and facilitate movement. With foresight, parents can work with their children to form good attitude habits. By prioritizing beneficial exercises and making them a fun part of your family’s daily routine, you can strengthen their backs and make them stand straighter than ever before:

  • Imagine a crayon or pencil between your shoulder blades and press them firmly. This movement strengthens the rhombic shapes, pulls the shoulder blades together, and stretches the chest open.
  • Trace the letters of the alphabet in the air with your arms or do a YMCA to get blood and oxygen flowing throughout your body.
  • For young children, songs with accompanying movements such as I’m a little teapot or Head, shoulders, knees and toes It can give your kids a fun brain break while providing a range of motion.

Kids and teens should also take precautions with their backpacks. As they move between classes of moving heavy items, the bags get heavier and weigh down their bodies. Horton warns that “in general, it is safe for children to carry around 10% of their body weight. Anything more than that, you risk hurting your child’s shoulders and back.”

nurture to thrive

After a brisk day of work, carpooling, and after-school activities, not to mention dinner, homework, and bedtime, the last thing a tired parent wants to do is prepare lunch for the next day. However, the importance of eating a balanced lunch cannot be overstated. A varied diet and whole foods play an important role in the development of the body and mind. Nutritious foods help your students focus and do better in school. So, what should an exhausted parent do?

Simplify it and don’t think about it too much,” says Paige Prestigiacomo, a resident of sports nutrition at NWHSU’s Center for Human Performance. “Helps break lunch into four categories: protein, carbs, healthy fats, and color.”

  • protein Essential for converting food into energy and circulating oxygen throughout the body. Examples include deli meats, peanut butter and jelly, hard-boiled eggs, Greek yogurt, and cottage cheese.
  • carbohydrates It fills you up and satiates your hunger. Carbohydrates, along with essential nutrients, are a great source of fiber. Examples include bread, tortillas, bread, and crackers. If possible, choose whole wheat.
  • healthy fats It provides essential fatty acids, which help you absorb fat-soluble vitamins. These vitamins, including A, D, and E, cannot be processed by the body without fats. Examples include almond or peanut butter (sun butter or seed butter for nut-free schools), mashed avocado and hummus.
  • the color It will provide a variety of nutrients that support the immune system and overall health. This so-called rainbow eater can ensure that you don’t miss out on much. Examples include colorful fruits and vegetables.

And again, don’t stress too much about every morsel of food your kids put in their mouths. “You would never expect your child to score 100 percent on every test, so we shouldn’t expect him to eat perfectly all the time either,” Prestigiacomo says. “Eat 80 percent of whole foods to fuel the body, leaving 20 percent for the fun stuff.”

A lack of hydration causes a host of problems, from fatigue to constipation. Unfortunately, the school day leaves little time for water breaks. Save your kids a trip to the water fountain and keep them well hydrated by putting a water bottle in their backpack. “Dehydration can do serious damage to your body, both in the short term and on the road,” Horton says. “Drink half your weight in ounces. I like this general rule because it’s easy to remember.” She cautioned that athletes should drink more fluids in proportion to their activity level.


located in Bloomington, Northwestern University of Health Sciences is a leader in integrative natural healthcare education, offering degree programs in chiropractic, acupuncture, Chinese medicine, massage therapy, medical assistance, medical laboratory programs, post-baccalaureate/pre-health, radiotherapy, and complete a bachelor’s degree. It Bloomington Clinic Open to the public and offers chiropractic, acupuncture, Chinese medicine, massage therapy, naturopathic medicine, nutrition and cupping.

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