Are you wanting the best for your child health-wise? Hoping to support them in maintaining a healthy lifestyle in every sense of the word?
Well, you’ve come to the right place because we’ve got some tips for you! We’ll walk you through the various facets of health, its impact and the importance of its maintenance.
Let’s get started!
What is a healthy lifestyle?
A healthy lifestyle relates to all manner of things. It’s a multifaceted condition that involves the intersection of physical health, mental health, emotional health and social health… just to name a few.
Public understanding of health has evolved from a perception merely based on physical health to a definition that encapsulates the broader variables that influence a healthy lifestyle. Now, health is being perceived as an avenue to achieving a good quality of life and wellbeing.
This holistic conception of health goes far beyond eating veggies and going on runs — every facet is equally as important as the others.
With this in mind, your child would be living a healthy lifestyle if they’re frequently taking study breaks, seeing friends every now and again, getting some movement in, consuming a balanced diet (yes, we mean some chocolate as well as that apple), have access to counselling and support services and are generally content with their lives. Of course, there’ll be times when these components are unbalanced, and that’s okay, as long as it’s temporary and your child is managing.
It may be a good idea to have this conversation with your child! Communicate the importance of holistic health for the betterment of themselves, their marks and quality of life.
The Importance of Health During the HSC
As we’ve mentioned, these facets of health are inextricably tied to one another. When one facet is lacking, this deficit will no doubt negatively impact the others.
This is why it’s so important to ensure that your child is maintaining a holistic healthy lifestyle. For example, they shouldn’t be overdoing their physical health to the detriment of their mental health. It’s a tough balance to maintain but it’s one that becomes more and more important as they progress through their studies.
In fact, since Year 11 and 12 are notoriously tense, busy and overwhelming years, it’s vital that parents instil these ideas early on. This way, your child will be a natural at monitoring and moderating their lifestyle and this sudden increased workload won’t compromise their health.
So, if you can, have this chat when they’re starting high school. Remind them of the importance of their mental, emotional, social and physical health and that, combined, these will influence their academic performance.
Importantly, you should be teaching your child to take control of their own health. While you can always make suggestions to your child, remember that they’re the ones in charge. By fostering this independence, they’ll likely make intuitive decisions that benefit their own needs. Everyone’s so different! One version of health won’t necessarily work for everyone.
With a healthy mental, emotional, social and physical state, your child will be more likely to enjoy studying. The best study session takes place when your child’s in a good mood and they’re able to rationalise the importance of trying their best and succeeding academically! Win win!
What is a healthy diet?
According to the World Health Organisation, a healthy diet is one that involves plenty of fruit, veggies, nuts, whole grains and legumes. The ideal amount would be about 5 portions of fruit and veg per day.
By consuming these natural foods, the body absorbs essential vitamins, minerals and fibres which help the body function. These include Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, magnesium, zinc, folic acid and phosphorus — basically, all the good stuff.
There’s also plenty of evidence to suggest the consumption of fruits, vegetables and nuts are associated with improved cognitive ability! So, as long as you’re encouraging your child to get used to eating an apple at lunch time and some carrots with dinner, you’re helping them absorb key vitamins and improving their attention span and concentration. The perfect combo for a good study sesh!
We’d like to stress that while these natural foods are important, they’re far from all a person needs. Fruit and veg should complement a filling, nutritious meal.
A lunch that fuels the body and the brain would be one with a tonne of macronutrients. This means their plate should be filled with plenty of protein for their muscles and bones, a source of fat to help the body absorb essential vitamins and carbohydrates for their energy, brain and nervous system.
Most importantly, you should encourage your child to honour their hunger and to feel satisfied after their meals. An example of a plate of body and brain food could include rice, chicken, avocado, carrots and of course, a big cup of water.
Still, you shouldn’t put too much pressure on your child to eat incredibly healthy. They’ve already got a lot on their plate (ha!). As long as they’re eating some vegetables and 1 or 2 pieces of fruit alongside some crackers and chocolate then they’re doing well.
Always remember that it’s likely your child is already being bombarded with health advice across their social media and online spaces, so don’t stress too much about it. Especially since a hyper-fixation on diet and ‘health’ can lead to disordered eating patterns, which are becoming more and more prevalent.
Maintaining a Healthy Diet During the HSC
As we mentioned, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest foods that are packed with vitamins and nutrients have a positive effect on concentration and cognitive abilities. These foods can also give your child consistent high energy levels, a high focus and a stronger immune system.
If, as a parent, you’re still doing the main grocery shops and meal-making, you can utilise these opportunities to provide your child with top notch, nutritious meals. As long as you make sure there’s always some filling foods in the cupboard, they’re good to go!
As Vi (95.1 ATAR) and Caitlin (ATAR 94.35) respectively recounted:
“My mum cooked me nutritious meals that would aid my memory and study.”
“My mother always made sure that I had breaks from studying and focussed on my nutritional needs as I was sometimes not able to. She would prepare meals high in protein and vitamins to assist in my level of concentration and memory retention.”
It could also be a great study break activity to work together to co-create some delicious lunches and dinners!
What is a healthy exercise routine?
Movement has proven positive health impacts. It’s a huge stress reliever. Exercise prompts our bodies to release those happy chemicals known as endorphins, leaving us feeling content, relaxed and excited! Exercise can also directly relieve stress by reducing levels of adrenaline and cortisol.
If your child isn’t the biggest sportsperson, that’s okay! Go out for a family bush walk or follow a free YouTube workout online. Any kind of movement, even a 20 minute walk, can release endorphins and reduce stress.
The great thing about exercise, and movement in general, is that it can mean literally anything. And that’s the fun of it! You can help your child test a bunch of activities until they find the one that best suits their interests and schedule. No form of exercise is better than another.
They could have a dance break in between studying, go rock climbing, or mow the lawn! Don’t let this fantasy of exercise being limited to a casual 10km run fool you. Any kind of movement has its benefits!
As Grace (85.35 ATAR) and Grace (99.5 ATAR) explained:
“During high school my parents encouraged and reminded me to maintain a balanced lifestyle. That is to not only study study, study all the time, but to engage in other important aspects of life such as sporting activities.”
“The best thing my parents did was to encourage me to take time off and get involved in things other than study, such as team sports and music. Not only does it help clear your mind and encourage you to get active, it forces you to organise your time and prioritise!”
So, there you go! Those were some tips to help your child maintain a healthy lifestyle and exercise routine. Here are some key takeaways:
#1: ‘Healthy’ has a variety of different meanings
There’s no one avenue to health! Health goes far beyond our mere appearance (and even weight!). It’s so important that we teach our kids to remember this and to encourage them to reject diet myths like the need to restrict yummy foods or to trust that BMI scale.
#2: Balance is key
Consuming plenty of fruit and vegetables is important! It means your child’s getting vital nutrients which enables them to concentrate and strengthens their attention span. Still, this fruit and veg isn’t all they need! It should complement a filling diet that includes hearty protein, energy-inducing carbohydrates and important fats.
And you know what else is just as satisfying as all of those vitamins? The taste of those chips or that chocolate bar! Yep, both are equally as important. If you’re encouraging your child to restrict the ‘unhealthy’ foods they eat, they’re going to crave them even more and once they’re ‘permitted’ to eat them, they may eat more than they have to.
Restriction is an extremely unhealthy dietary approach. So, try and avoid that to steer clear of more harmful effects in the future.
#3: All movement is good movement!
Exercise is great! It releases endorphins and reduces stress! What could be better? Sometimes it’s easy to mistakenly consider exercise as intense workout regimes which leave you sore for days on end. In reality, exercise is anything that gives your body some movement!
You could have a dance party with your child, vacuum the house together, go for a walk around the neighbourhood or get some out on a bicycle ride while listening to some sort of educational podcast!
A fixation on food and exercise can easily manifest into something far more dangerous, so make sure that while you’re demonstrating a balanced food intake and regular movement, keep an eye on the language you use and make sure you’re not restricting particular food groups! Balance is key!!
Are you looking for some extra help for your child during the HSC?
We have an incredible team of HSC tutors and mentors!
We can help your child master their HSC subjects and ace their upcoming HSC assessments with personalised lessons conducted one-on-one in your home or at our state of the art campus in Hornsby or the Hills!
We’ve supported over 8,000 students over the last 11 years, and on average our students score mark improvements of over 20%!
To find out more and get started with an inspirational HSC tutor and mentor, get in touch today or give us a ring on 1300 267 888!
Gemma Billington is a Content Writer at Art of Smart and an undergraduate student at the University of Technology Sydney. While studying Journalism and Social and Political Sciences, Gemma enjoys spending her time at the gym or reading about Britain’s medieval monarchy – ideally not at the same time. She currently creates and administers social media posts for Central News and writes for the student publication, The Comma. After completing her undergraduate degree, she hopes to study a Masters of Medieval History and is very excited about the prospect!