Parents can give their children’s learning a healthy, happy start this fall with these ABCs (and a bonus D) from Butler University Assistant Professor of Physical Education Lisa Farley.

A – Activity. Sitting at desks and shuffling between classes for eight hours a day, students often don’t get enough exercise. “Research has shown that increased physical activity improves students’ capacity to remember,” Farley said. “Children who engage in at least 30 minutes of daily physical activity are less likely to suffer fatigue and will be better able to concentrate.”

B – Bedtime. School-age children need between nine and 10 hours of sleep each night to feel rested, renew energy and promote brain and body growth. Dreaming during sleep allows children to process recent events, which can enhance concentration and mental wellbeing.

C – Consume Fruits and Vegetables Daily. Thinking, playing, growing and working with others takes energy. Junk foods offer calories to burn but lack crucial vitamins and minerals. Consuming more fruits and vegetables helps children’s brain cells grow and be able to make connections during learning.

Visit ChooseMyPlate.gov to see the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new recommendations for healthy meal planning. “ChooseMyPlate.gov suggests that more than half of a healthy meal should be fruits and vegetables,” Farley said.

D – Drink Milk and Water. “Thirst signals you to increase fluid intake,” Farley said. “You can also mistake thirst for hunger — that ‘What’s in the cupboard? I’m feeling munchy’ feeling.”

When thirsty, avoid sodas and fruit juice, which are loaded with simple sugars and empty calories. “They don’t provide the type of fluid the body needs,” Farley said. Calcium from milk improves cell, muscle and bone growth. Children should drink milk at each of the three daily meals to get the recommended amount.

“In addition to milk, no fluid is better for a normal person to improve brain and muscle function than water,” she said. “Six to eight glasses of water each day will aid in energy balance, memory function and weight balance.

Assistant Professor of Physical Education Lisa Farley, Ed.D., specializes in nutrition education; physical and health education for elementary, middle and secondary grades; and school and community health.

To arrange an interview, contactMary Ellen StephensonAssociate Director of Public RelationsButler University(317) 940-6944mestephe@butler.edu

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