Back to School

School’s here again, and so are hurried mornings and crazy schedules. It’s easy for families to feel that healthy meals and making time to exercise are impossible goals, which is all the more reason for teachers and health professionals to be ready with easy tips for eating right and staying fit all year long. Start by encouraging families to visit a local farmer’s market.  It’s a great way to try new fruits and vegetables, learn how they’re grown and celebrate National Organic Harvest Month (September).  Google “farmers market recipes” for tasty recipes developed by farm markets staff members across the United States.

September is also the Great American Low Cholesterol, Low Fat Pizza Bake Month, so why not use fresh veggies to make a pizza monster? Spread a lightly-salted rice cake with no-sodium added tomato sauce, add a sprinkle of favorite pizza seasonings and top with reduced fat mozzarella cheese. Use sliced black olives for eyes, a mushroom slice for a nose and strips of bell peppers for a mouth and hair. Place in a preheated broiler or toaster oven for a few minutes to melt the cheese.

Although exercise may seem to take important time away from schoolwork and academic activities, a new study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found just the opposite. Schoolchildren ages 8 to 11 living in Rome scored higher on tests of attention and concentration ability after a 50-minute physical education class compared to a traditional lecture class.  The researchers also found that, although both endurance activities like running and drills with a ball improved scores, the scores were highest following the endurance class, suggesting that letting kids run and move during the day really does help learning.  Help families and students keep moving by suggesting ideas for daily physical activity breaks. Try a fun challenge, like National Geographic’s “Let’s Jump,” which aims to break a Guinness World Record this October 11-12 for the most people during jumping jacks.

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