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Healthy Body, Healthy Mind- Your life is enhanced by your physical well-being, February 24, 2017
Posted 02/27/2017 10:18AM

Healthy Body, Healthy Mind- Your life is enhanced by your physical well-being

Establish good habits early

There is large amounts of research to show that healthy, physically fit people are happy and well adjusted. There is also much research to show that physical activity in childhood helps to develop neural connections in a child's brain, and develops new understandings, knowledge and skills for that child. Children who are physically active are more likely to become physically active as adults.

Parents do not have to spend money on courses that teach their children to run, jump and play- the best thing a parent can spend is their time. Here are 6 strategies that parents can use to help their children become happy and well adjusted, and develop a healthy body and healthy mind.

#1. Give your child choices

Parents often choose activities for their child based on what the parent wants, or what they want for the child. However, most people have talents that have never been discovered, because they were not given the opportunity to explore them. So, we need to get students exploring their choices and their ideas.

With very young children, it is enough to simply take them outside, to a safe place, and follow them around. Let them explore, and interrupt only if their safety is threatened. Let them pick things up and look at them. Let them get dirty.

As your children get older, encourage them to take part in sports with others. Team sports are a very powerful way of learning commitment and cooperation. Good team players have strong self-discipline.

It takes even more commitment to pursue individual sports, such as running or swimming, so it is essential that parents support and encourage their child when he/she shows interest in solo sports and pursuits. Parents need to be wise if their child gives up an activity. They need to judge whether or not their child should be taught to make better commitments, or if the child is simply not suited to certain activities. Parents have to balance teaching the child to persevere against pushing him/her to do something he/she simply doesn't like.

#2. Teach your child to push themselves

Successful people know that being hot/cold, hungry/thirsty and/or tired are not barriers to enjoyment. Satisfaction is often found in overcoming these things. People who succeed in sports can push through physical discomfort. People who are successful in life learn to delay gratification. Sport is a great way to learn this. Children learn that effort can bring reward, and that life doesn't always go the way we want.

The best way to teach a child to face a challenge is to model it, early in a child's life. Once a child can be reasoned with, a parent can encourage and support him/her to wait for a short while before having something to eat or drink, or walk or run a bit further before having something to eat or drink, or walk or run a bit further before having a rest. Exercising and playing physical games with your child gives you the opportunity to help them challenge themselves, and challenge yourself.

#3. Good diet is paramount

Child obesity is a growing problem in every developed country. Obese children have greatly increased risk of health problems in later life. They simply cannot enjoy a healthy lifestyle, usually get tired easily, and have lower motivation than a child who enjoys physical activity.

While there are many, many sources of advice about diet, the simple "secret" is: moderation. Generally speaking, obese people eat too much food, especially food with high fat and sugar content, and do not exercise enough. Sensible parents allow their child "treats", but make sure that the bulk of their child's diet contains fresh fruit and vegetables and natural grains. Processed food should be kept to a minimum. There is much research to indicate that a healthy diet reduces the risk of certain forms of cancer, and other diseases. Children need enough energy to grow, as well as cater for an active lifestyle. They need three healthy meals each day, and snacks. Parents who can encourage their children to snack on fresh fruit are setting them on the path to life-long health.

Again, modelling is important. If a child's mother and/or father seem to make little effort to eat healthily, then the child is more likely to become obese and unhealthy.

#4. Pastimes

Organised sports are not the only way of staying fit and healthy. Walking, trekking, jogging, swimming and cycling are becoming more and more popular. Gymnasiums flourish in big cities and many places have 25m or 50m swimming pools. Water sports, such as surfing and sailing are attracting more and more people. Martial arts attract people who want to learn control and discipline. Even skateboarding, which is often associated with undesirable urban sub-cultures, is a past time which requires skill and commitment.

The list of non-competitive physical activities that can be enjoyed by individuals and groups of people is almost unlimited. Talk with your child, listen to them, and, whenever possible, give them the opportunity to try what they want.

#5. Always stay interested in your child

TV sports reporters often interview sports stars who are extremely happy because their parents have been to watch them in an important game. Everyone wants the support of their family at events, and every game of sport is an event. Your child is never too old for you to support them. Even adults value their family and friends supporting them at a game, and teenagers appreciate just as much as young children. Parents should attend their children's sporting events. Children enjoy playing sport more with at least one relative to cheer them on. Be there. and celebrate their successes, and their learning experiences, with them.

#6. Everyone needs rest

Too many young children do not get enough sleep. Most children need at least eight hours' of sleep each night, and teenage boys may actually need more. Children who stay up late at night become tired and have low motivation at school, and can learn to stay this way throughout their life.

Many parents also involve their children in classes and clubs after school. This is good, as long as the child also has time to relax. It is essential that young children have time to read, listen to a story, have a short nap or play quietly with a toy.

For older children, each day should include at least an hour that they have to themselves. Listening to music, reading magazines and surfing the internet is normal behaviour. Effective parents are aware of, and show an interest in, the material that their children are exposed to.

Five Simple Strategies for teaching your child to lead a healthy life:

1. Lead a healthy lifestyle yourself.

2. Provide plenty of healthy food for your child.

3. Take part in sports and other physical activities with them.

4. Make sure that they sleep well every night.

5. Give them time to relax.

Nishimachi International School
2-14-7 Moto Azabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-0046 Japan Tel: +81- (0)3-3451-5520

A well-recognized, independent, and coeducational K-9 international school in central Tokyo.

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