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Healthy habits to ensure a successful school year

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When the days get shorter, it’s a good sign that another school year is just around the corner. As you begin to tackle your back-to-school to-do lists, we’ve got a few tips to help ensure that your family is ready for another successful and healthy school term.

Schedule annual physicals — The beginning of a new school year is a great time to schedule your young athletes’ annual sports physical exam as well as any annual check-up with their pediatrician. This would allow for a full physical exam, as well as an opportunity to confirm that vaccinations are up to date, and to ask any questions you may have about your child’s health.

Create a healthy homework/study routine and environment — Completing homework assignments and setting aside dedicated time for studying for exams is a key factor in your children’s academic success during the school year. So helping them foster good study routines is essential. Creating a quiet, well-lit workspace; designating adequate homework time each afternoon or evening; setting aside electronic devices during this focused period; and ensuring your child takes periodic breaks to alleviate eye, neck and brain fatigue are all great tips for creating a healthy and successful study routine.

Plan weekday meals ahead — Thoughtfully planning out balanced meals for the week — and even pre-portioning out breakfasts and lunches — can help ensure your family is following healthy eating habits, eliminating the nightly guessing game of “What’s for dinner?” and freeing up evening hours for quality family time.

Sleep — Healthy sleeping habits are integral to your child’s overall wellness and ability to function optimally while in school. A lack of sleep can result in memory problems, difficulty focusing, weakening of the immune system, depression and even obesity. The amount of sleep your child needs can vary depending on a number of factors, but the American Academy of Sleep Medicine outlines these general guidelines:

• Children ages 3 to 5: 10-13 hours per 24 hours (including naps).

• Children ages 6 to 12: 9-12 hours per 24 hours.

• Teens ages 13 to 18: 8-10 hours per 24 hours.

Sleep is important for the health of parents too, so make sure you’re getting enough shut-eye as well!

Prevent the spread of germs — We all know that the school year can bring its share of colds, stomach bugs and the like. One of the easiest and best ways for you to help prevent the spread of germs is to promote hand-washing. Train your family members to wash their hands as soon as they arrive at home, and always wash your hands before meals.

By establishing and encouraging responsible routines and habits, you’ll be helping to create a healthy and successful school year for your family and your community.

We at Wilson Medical Center hope you and your family have a wonderful and safe school year.

Need a physician? Call 800.424.DOCS (3627) to get connected with the right care for your family.

Phillip Perkins, M.D., is a general practitioner at Wilson Stantonsburg Clinic located at 312 Main St. in Stantonsburg.

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