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Published on August 15, 2013

5 Healthy Ways to Prepare for the New School Year

Washing handsThe beginning of a new school year is a great opportunity to remind students about ways to stay healthy as well as reevaluate your own habits. Here are five tips for putting your healthiest foot forward this school year.

Stay up-to-date with shots

Keeping up with your child’s vaccinations is not only important for his/her health, but Iowa Immunization Law also mandates that all school children have a completed immunization record on file before beginning school. This year, students entering seventh grade are required to have a tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap) vaccine booster. The booster is also recommended for students older than seventh grade if they have not yet had it.

However, vaccinations are not just for the children. The specific shots you need as an adult depend on many factors: age, lifestyle, travel plans, pregnancy status and any vaccines you had as a child. For instance, the tetanus and diphtheria shot needs to be repeated every 10 years throughout adulthood to keep its immunity. Take care of your family by taking care of yourself.

Wash your hands

Your workplace and child’s school are full of threatening germs. By teaching your kids about thorough hand-washing techniques, your entire family will cut down on sick days. Stock up on easy-to-carry bottles of hand sanitizers to help your family fight germs when soap and water are not easily accessible.

Eat a balanced diet

Eating a well-balanced diet helps your immune system fight off germs and can also improve focus and retention throughout the day. It begins with breakfast — the time invested in a good breakfast is more valuable than a few extra minutes of sleep, so make sure that you and your kids are starting the day with a filling, nutritious meal. To eat healthfully all day, it may be helpful to plan lunch the night before. With a copy of your child’s cafeteria menu, you can talk about his/her options and plan accordingly. Similarly, you will be less likely to buy an unhealthy meal if you plan and pack a meal ahead of time.

Get enough sleep

Just like a balanced diet, a good night of sleep will prepare one’s body and mind for the upcoming day and is important for building up the immune system. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children five to nine years old should be getting 10-11 hours of sleep each night, pre-teens and teens (10-17) should have 8.5-9.25 hours each night, and adults need 7-9 hours each night for ideal rest.

Stay home with a fever

As a parent, you are responsible for governing sick days. The first step in determining if you or your child needs to stay home is to check for a fever. A fever is a sign that the immune system is fighting something off and that you are likely contagious. Do your body and your peers a favor by staying home with a fever.

Keeping your family in school and out of the doctor’s office is important. By keeping these simple tips in mind, you can reduce the risk of illness in your home and have a more enjoyable, healthier school year!

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