Four New Habits for a New School Year
By Mary Kathryn Poole, MPH, program director, Let’s Move Pittsburgh
School bus schedules. School supplies. Homework. For many families, these are popular conversation topics as parents prepare their kids for the new school year. Now is a good time to set life goals and commit to healthy habits, including nutrition and physical activity goals for you and your family. Memorizing 5-2-1-0 will help you stay on track and remind you of these four healthy habits even during the busy school year.
5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables every day:
As you talk with your kids about the new school year, use this time as an opportunity to talk about food choices. Whether your kids participate in the school lunch program or pack their own lunches, you can encourage them to opt for more nutritious food choices. Simple steps like eating fruit rather than drinking juice, drinking more water, and choosing a side of veggies with a meal can make a difference in overall health. At home, try adding new fruits and vegetables to your meals and talking with your children about them. Visit Let’s Move Pittsburgh’s website to check out a helpful resource called Phrases that Help and Hinder that features ways to provide positive reinforcement to kids as they try new foods.
2 hours or less of recreational screen time every day:
With school back in session, your children might be spending more time on the computer for school-related assignments. Though you may not be able to, or even want to set limits on academic-related screen time, the start of the school year is a good time to evaluate your family’s screen time routine, including number of minutes and types of screen time. One topic for discussion may be smart phone usage. Excessive screen time has been linked to lower math and school achievement, reduced physical activity, and increased weight. A recent article from the New York Times provides recommendations for the ideal age when children should own a smart phone. The main conclusion is the older, the better for giving your child a smart phone, but should he/she need one, there are some helpful parental controls and procedures that can be put in place.
1 hour or more of physical activity every day:
While summer activities are winding down, we are excited to offer your family the chance to be active through the fall months. Let’s Move Pittsburgh is teaming up with the YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh to offer a series of free family fitness classes beginning in August. The first class in August is full, but visit the website to learn more about future free classes. Here you will also find the link to RSVP.
Another way to stay active as a family is by using Go Noodle as a regular game in your household. This energizing website allows you and your children to join thousands of families and classrooms across the country by participating in fun, customized dance and movement activities. Sign up for free to start today at gonoodle.com!
0 sugary drinks and more water every day:
Do your children attend a Pittsburgh Public School? If so, they will have more options to drink fresh filtered water at school this year! This past June, the Pittsburgh Public School district began testing water in schools and has committed to installing filtration devices on water fountains that will allow students to easily refill water bottles with fresh water. Add a colorful water bottle with your child’s name on it to your back-to-school supply list. Read the news coverage here. We are thrilled to see the school district taking strides to encourage water consumption as it’s the best way for kids to stay hydrated. Need a fun resource to talk with your child about the importance of drinking water? We recommend using the many videos and resources from the national Drink UP campaign.
Let’s Move Pittsburgh wishes you a happy and healthy start to the school year!
This article is an effort of Let’s Move Pittsburgh’s 5-2-1-0 initiative to help Pittsburgh’s youth practice 5-2-1-0 — 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables, 2 hours or less of recreational screen time, 1 hour or more of physical activity, and 0 sugary drinks and more water — every day! Learn more at letsmovepittsburgh.org/5210.
Let’s Move Pittsburgh, a collaborative program of Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, provides Southwestern Pennsylvania’s children and their caregivers with the knowledge, tools, and support needed to make nutritious food choices and lead active lifestyles. Learn more at letsmovepittsburgh.org and on Facebook and Twitter.