Back To School Nutrition & Exercise Advice For Parents


Being physically active boosts blood flow around your body, which increases oxygen delivery to your brain. This enhances cognition, memory and concentration. Therefore, active kids are more likely to learn faster, process and retain information better, plan and organise work, and show a high level of problem-solving skills. Exercise also raises levels of the hormone responsible for concentration – norepinephrine. One group of researchers assessed kids who normally performed poorly on attention tasks. They found that after 20 minutes of walking, the kids’ accuracy had improved. And a 2009 study shows that children’s reading, spelling and arithmetic skills also enhanced after a 20-minute stroll. Need any more reasons to keep your kids active?

Today’s generation of children is the least active in history. Unfortunately, the price they’ll pay for this is extremely high…

It’s no secret that today’s children don’t move enough. Research shows that 84% of girls and 79% of boys aged five to 18 years don’t get the exercise they need to stay healthy. And even if they do, today’s child will take an extra 90 seconds to run a mile than a child of 30 years ago. With each passing year, our children’s generation do less active play, fewer sports and pile on the pounds. It’s no wonder that many experts worry that this inactive lifestyle and rising obesity rate will mean that today’s children will have a shorter life span than their parents. Government reports predict that 90 % of the population will be obese by 2015. Something has to be done now!
This generation is overwhelmed by entertainment options, from computers to tablets to smart phones and television. Children now spend an average of 6 hours of their out of school time per day on these devices. That’s twice the screen time use of 20 years ago. Studies show that this is impacting negatively on all aspects of fitness. Not just cardiovascular fitness but strength and mobility also.
A shift away from traditional outdoor activities has led to a weaker generation of kids who can do fewer sit-ups, have poorer grip strength, are less able to hang from a gym bar and possess less arm strength than children from 20 years ago.
We develop a passion for exercise during childhood. This is when our brains and bodies are primed to develop motivation based on what we are already doing. We learn fundamental motor skills, such as jumping, throwing, catching and running. These building blocks make children more likely to participate in, and enjoy, physical activity as adults.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) currently ranks physical inactivity as the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality, pipped to the post only by high blood pressure, smoking and high blood sugar levels. Physical inactivity is also acknowledged as the main cause of about 21-25% of breast and colon cancer, 27% of diabetes and 30% of heart disease. In short, it’s got a lot to answer for!

Reasons to get your kids active

Many studies and research results have proven beyond doubt the benefits of your child leading an active life. Some of which you may not have considered…

Fit kids

  • Make good leaders
  • Are more confident
  • Are happier
  • Are more resilient
  • Are more determined, focused and goal orientated
  • Are less prone to depression
  • Have better self-esteem
  • Experience better moods
  • Are less anxious
  • Have better cognition, memory and concentration (due to increased oxygen delivery to the brain)
  • Learn faster
  • Process and retain information better
  • Can plan and organise work better
  • Have a high level of problem solving skills
  • Have better attention
  • Have been shown to have better reading, writing, spelling and arithmetic skills
  • Have better essential life skills such as; productivity, creativity, discipline and team work
  • Are better at working independently, organising time and taking initiative
  • Display fewer behavioural problems
  • Are less likely to smoke or use harmful substances
  • Make less visits to the doctor in their lifetime
  • Have a lower risk of getting major illnesses such as Heart disease, cancers and diabetes
  • Demonstrate better cooperation and collaboration skills
  • Set academic as well as sporting goals
  • Are high achievers…they have a 15% higher graduation rate!
What do I do now?
  • See that your child gets 60+ minutes of activity daily (this can be a combination of walking to school / play time/ sports etc.)
  • Include some resistance training 3 times per week (climbing / bodyweight exercises / weights etc.)
  • Limit total screen time to 2 hours per day maximum
  • Include physical activity in family time (join them in a walk to the park for example)
  • Get them to join a club of an activity that they enjoy
Nutrition Tips

Encouraging your child to live an active life is vitally important in terms of their future development. In their formative years, they form lifelong habits. This is not only in terms of their activity. A healthy diet is also vital. Well-fed kids have higher levels of energy and are more likely to enjoy exercise.

Well-fuelled kids will have more energy for exercise, they will perform better and enjoy it more and are more likely to continue exercising.

Here are some nutrition tips you can help your kids with:

  • Eat a proper meal an hour or 2 before exercise
  • Provide them with healthy snacks; fruit, dried fruit, natural yoghurt, oatcakes, peanut butter, raw nuts (where appropriate), protein drink). Bananas are a particularly good pre-exercise snack, great for energy!
  • Ensure they drink enough water to stay hydrated (give them a water bottle to carry around in their school / sports bag)

The rules of healthy meals don’t need to be different for kids and adults. Base meals around a few simple rules:

  • Have quality protein with each meal (unprocessed meat, fish, foul / raw nuts / eggs / dairy / protein drink). Essential for muscle growth and repair.
  • Use the correct carbohydrates; fruit, veg, porridge, wholegrain bread, brown pasta
  • When it comes to fruit and veg, try to eat all the colours of the rainbow! This will ensure that your child is getting a good variety of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre
  • Consider a good quality multi-nutrient supplement

 If you’re already taking regular exercise, congratulations! If, on the other hand you feel you could benefit from more exercise and / or making some nutritional changes but don’t know where to begin, then give us a shout; 086-8598954