Healthy Living in the North

Children follow by example – how are you leading?

Skaters on an outdoor ice surface

Spending more time outdoors and being active every day is a great way to beat the “winter blues.” Take your family for a skate or walk to a local event – your kids will follow your healthy example!

Although slower to start this year, winter is upon us. Days are shorter, darker, and colder and for some of us the “winter blues” might be settling in. Feelings of low energy, tiredness, and a lack of motivation can be felt by both adults and children during these winter months. The challenge for us all is to resist going into hibernation mode and to instead find ways to beat the “blues.” Even though it might seem easier and warmer to stay cooped up indoors, it is not necessarily better for our bodies to do this.

Helping children enjoy all that winter has to offer will have positive benefits for adults and children alike. Here are some suggestions that might help you and your children to stay energized and happy during this winter season. Remember, children follow by example!

  • Plan to be active every day. Exercise is not only good for your physical health, it also helps to improve your mood.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Your mood and energy levels can be affected by what and when you eat. Eating healthy foods will give your body the nutrients needed to help stabilize your blood sugar and energy levels.
  • Spend more time outdoors. Lack of sunlight can affect your mood. Make a plan to spend a little more time outdoors, particularly around midday to take advantage of sunlight or daylight. Bundle up to stay warm and to avoid frostbite.
  • Sleep. Try to keep bedtime and waking time consistent as this will help you to have more energy. Oversleeping can actually make you more tired.
  • Be proactive. Make a plan together with your family and friends to help each other to stay active and engaged during winter.

So I challenge you today to start making your plan to stay active indoors and outdoors this winter. Try something new to beat the “winter blues” and make wintertime fun!

What are you doing today?


This article was originally published in A Healthier You magazine. The newest issue of our healthy living magazine is now available online!

 

Karen Wonders

About Karen Wonders

Karen was born and raised in Ottawa and over the last 30 years has lived in various cities and communities in Alberta and B.C. She has a nursing degree from the University of Victoria and currently lives and works in Prince George as a Public Health Nursing Program Manager. Karen is a strong advocate for the health of children and youth with her primary focus being in the area of "healthy schools". She is a director on the board of the Directorate of Agencies for School Health, which adds great value and is complementary to her. In her spare time, Karen enjoys travelling, spending time with her family and friends, and taking long walks with her dog Theodore.

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Attention parents! Do you have your back-to-school routines planned out?

Collage of kids going back to school.

Many thanks to the Northern Health nurses who sent in their family back-to-school photos! How can you make back-to-school healthy?

As summer holidays wind down, excitement of the new school year is on the horizon. Getting ready for back-to-school season can be a stressful and challenging time for parents and families. Establishing (or re-establishing) healthy routines is an important step to making the transition back to school happy and successful for the entire family.

Consistent routines help children to feel safe and secure and teach them to know what is expected of them. To establish routines, begin practicing them a couple of weeks prior to the start of school. Remember to be positive role models for your children. Getting a new school year off to a good start can influence their attitude, confidence, and performance both socially and academically.

Try to ensure that you incorporate healthy eating, physical activity, and adequate rest and sleep into your family routines as you gear up for school. Start each morning off with a nutritious breakfast for everyone. Evidence shows that kids who eat a healthy breakfast do better in school, have increased concentration and have more energy. Also remember that snacks and lunches can be just as healthy as breakfast! Involving children in planning and preparing their lunch provides a chance for them to learn about healthy eating.

Collage of kids going back to school

Many thanks to the Northern Health nurses who sent in their family back-to-school photos! How can you make back-to-school healthy?

Along with healthy eating, be sure to encourage your young ones to be physically active for at least 60 minutes every day. Spend time together being active as this will contribute to reducing screen time for yourself and your children. It also avoids unnecessary sedentary behaviour.

Ensuring that children get enough sleep (9-10 hours/night) is also important throughout the school year. Adequate sleep is essential to healthy growth and development. Sleep helps to promote alertness, memory and performance. This is why it is so important to establish consistent bedtime routines that will make it easier for your child to relax, fall asleep, and sleep through the night.

Remember that families are unique and there is no one-size-fits-all back-to-school routine. Choosing routines that will work for your family and sticking to them is what’s most important.

What does your back-to-school routine look like?

  • Make bedtime the same every night.
  • Plan for healthy meals.
  • Limit screen time.
  • Talk with your child every day.
  • Teach your child about safety.
  • Encourage independence.
  • Make homework a routine.
  • Prepare the night before.

This article was originally published in the August 2015 issue of A Healthier You magazine.

Karen Wonders

About Karen Wonders

Karen was born and raised in Ottawa and over the last 30 years has lived in various cities and communities in Alberta and B.C. She has a nursing degree from the University of Victoria and currently lives and works in Prince George as a Public Health Nursing Program Manager. Karen is a strong advocate for the health of children and youth with her primary focus being in the area of "healthy schools". She is a director on the board of the Directorate of Agencies for School Health, which adds great value and is complementary to her. In her spare time, Karen enjoys travelling, spending time with her family and friends, and taking long walks with her dog Theodore.

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