Good health is a universal concern, and everyone is entitled to the best health, young or old. Different age groups have particular health needs, but everyone is urged to visit their doctor regularly, as well as their dentist. In particular, what about the health of your children? A child might need some instructions, encouragement, and guidance to have the best possible health, and you, as the parent, can provide all that. Kids need a pediatric dentist, regular exercise, a good diet, healthy hobbies, and a consistent sleep schedule so that they can grow up smart and strong. How might this be done?
Kids Health: Exercise
Exercise is a good place to start. First, the bad news: American children, as a whole, are not exercising as much as they should. The American Heart Association recommends about half an hour of rigorous play per day, but many children fall below even that standard. Exercise is vital for a child’s health, and studies show that regular exercise can develop a child’s muscles and coordination, as well as their mental prowess. Missing too much exercise means that a child may have limited mental growth. Also, missing too much exercise may cause obesity in children, which can lead to all kinds of health complications, not to mention poor self-image and sleep and mood problems. Often, kids are spending hours per day using electronic screens, which is a sedentary behavior.
Now the good news: it is never too late to get a child up and moving. A child can get exercise in all sorts of ways, from joining an amateur sports team or taking classes for sports or martial arts, or riding a bicycle, swimming, and visiting a park’s playground. In fact, some malls and fitness centers have indoor jungle gyms that can keep kids occupied and give them exercise while their parents are on business. A martial arts class, such as karate, can work out all muscles in the body and burn calories, and teach a child self-defense.
Let’s not forget sports, either, such as soccer, basketball, and baseball. A child doesn’t even have to play a lengthy game; it is believed that engaging in just 10 minutes of physical play each day can help a person enhance their mobility and even live longer, and this applies for kids, too. Soccer and basketball involve constant movement, and soccer is a favorite sport for teaching children good sportsmanship and teamwork while giving them an exercise outlet.
And what about baseball and softball? Kids can get age-friendly wooden or metal bats, cleated shoes, catcher’s mitts, and helmets for a safe and fun game, and some baseball bats are modified so they can hit balls even further. Doctored metal bats, which are shaved on the inside, are more flexible but they shouldn’t be used in temperatures below 65 degrees Fahrenheit. These metal bats are usually made of aluminum for a lightweight body, and they’re affordable since aluminum ranks among the most three most frequently purchased consumer metals besides stainless steel. Of course, wooden bats are an option, too, and they are often made of ash wood as per tradition.
Kids Health: Diet
Kids should eat well, too, and they often mimic the diet of their parents. It may be noted, however, that many adults young and old are not eating properly; ever since the late 1970s or so, fast foods became much more common, and such foods are loaded with sugars, fats, and oils designed to make them taste better, at the expense of health. These fast foods, and most highly processed foods, add a lot of empty and unhealthy calories to the eater and thus enable weight gain. Often, Americans also overeat on red meat and don’t eat enough vegetables and fruits, leading to unbalanced diets. Kids, too, often eat fast foods and highly processed frozen foods, many of which are marketed directly to these young consumers.
But eating fast food is not an obligation, and parents can, at any time, realize that they should change the family’s diet for the better. This means no fast foods or frozen processed foods, and minimal intake of sugary goods such as soda or cake or doughnuts. Instead, a child can eat more home-cooked foods that are balanced across the food pyramid, including more vegetables and fruits, whole grains, dairy such as cheese and yogurt, and lean meats such as chicken, turkey, and fish. Eating better allows kids to grow up bigger and stronger, and they may continue these good eating habits in their adult life, too.
Of course, children often have food allergies or intolerances, some of which may be discovered the hard way. So, the parents can consult a nutritionist and their family doctor before making radical changes to their diet, and ensure that their new diet is both effective and healthy for everyone. Children often have peanut allergies, for example, so the parents should prepare foods that contain no nuts. Better yet, American society as a whole is more aware of diverse dietary needs and preferences than ever, so many cookbooks and online recipes can cater to just about anyone. There are countless lunch and dinner ideas that exclude certain ingredients.
Kids Health: Mental Health
Mental health is a broad and tricky field that even today, Americans are still figuring out. But there are some general trends that are simple to describe, and take into account for a child’s health. Now, in the 21st century, younger and younger Americans are getting online, and unlike previous generations, kids today in middle school or elementary school have access to high-speed internet, mobile devices, and social media. But social media has often been described as a double-edged sword, and not without reason. Users young and old often end up using it for hours per day, which eats up time that could be better used for something more productive, anything from exercise to studying to a wholesome hobby, such as arts and crafts or a musical instrument. And while thinking about it in terms of addiction might seem harsh, the reality is that without limits, addiction is very real for young adults. In fact, almost 3% of young adults age 12 or older were dependent on illicit substances in the last year. While social media isn’t illicit, it is pervasive. Kids might be given limits to how much time they spend on social media for this very reason, or parents might give them (for example) a half-hour of Twitter or Facebook time as a reward for finishing their homework. There are many variants on how to do this.
Kids Health: Dental Health
Kids also need to take care of their teeth, and many children today have cavities by the time they start kindergarten. Once a child turns two years old, he or she is ready to start seeing the dentist regularly, and the parents can find a pediatric dentist or a family dentist who can take care of their child’s dental health. At the dentist’s office, the child may get routine checkups and cleaning, and have X-rays taken of their teeth. Not to mention the doctor can provide sealant to put on the child’s teeth, and the child may get braces if need be. At the dentist, a child may also be told how and why they should brush their teeth, and they may be given sample toothbrushes and toothpaste to use. Children must be diligent about brushing their teeth after every meal, and when supervised by an adult, they might also use floss or even mouthwash.
Childhood is the best time for taking good care of someone’s health, since children are impressionable, and they should learn good health habits of all kinds early on. A child who is encouraged to play sports, brush their teeth, make friends, and eat well is bound to grow up healthy and happy, and it has been universally observed that good health leads to a good life and general happiness. That, and healthy habits like playing sports and helping their parents cook a healthy meal can also be fun, and keep kids occupied if they have limits to how long they use electronic screens during the day. Regular visits to the family doctor and dentist can help parents keep everything on track and get expert advice and ideas on how to keep their kids healthy and strong for years to come.