- Sep 20, 2013
Children benefit physically, mentally, socially and academically from a healthy lifestyle of proper nutrition and exercise. Children need at least 60 minutes of exercise a day through activities that build bones, such as jumping rope; strengthen muscles, pushups, and also provide vigorous intensity aerobics, such as running. Nutritional needs vary depending on age, gender and activity level, but a healthy diet includes balanced meals of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, proteins and low-fat dairy products.
A healthy lifestyle helps a child maintain a healthy weight, and build strong bones and muscles. By exercising and eating right to maintain a healthy weight, the child lowers his risk for Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. A balanced diet filled with vitamins and minerals boosts the immune system, better protecting against those common viruses passed around at school, such as the cold and flu. Foods and drinks high in calcium reduce the risk of osteoporosis later in life.
Eating right and getting daily physical exercise benefits a child’s mental health. A child who is physically fit may have higher self-esteem, feel better about her physical appearance and be better able to handle emotional challenges. Exercise releases endorphins, which help a child feel happier and more peaceful. Exercise can lead to better sleep at night and more energy during the day, which in turn leads to feeling better emotionally. Physical activity can also help mild depression.
A physically fit child with high self-esteem may benefit socially, as well. The child who stays inside to play video games has less of an opportunity to make friends than the child who joins the basketball team or takes gymnastics. Leading a healthy lifestyle reduces the chances a child will be the victim of school bullying, according to a January 2008 study by The Graduate School of Tokyo Medical and Dental University in Tokyo, Japan. For the study, a healthy lifestyle included proper diet, hygiene and physical activity practices
From learning to read and write, to studying for a big test, a healthy lifestyle helps a child flourish academically, and keeps him from missing school due to illness. Physical activity improves a child’s ability to learn by increasing alertness and by reducing anxiety and stress. Hunger hampers a child’s ability to focus and think. Many institutions, such as Carnegie Foundation, Tufts University and Hebrew University, have studied the importance of nutrition on learning and found that eating a healthy breakfast helps a child better concentrate on complex tasks, remember information quicker and make fewer problem-solving errors.