Fitness column: Back to school health

We've now reached that special time of year when kids all across the country are either getting ready for school or are already hitting the books.

Because of the importance of school preparation, I wanted to take a moment to talk back-to-school planning before the bell rings.

I'm not talking about school supplies and new clothes (although that's important too), but rather about how to make a return to the classroom in top physical and emotional shape.

One thing that should be done before all the learning starts is a trip to the doctor. A yearly physical is a necessity, and in some instances, booster shots are in order.

Having the family physician check your child ensures that they are healthy and ready to concentrate on learning.


In addition, an annual trip to the eye doctor is recommended to check that vision issues will not interfere with time in the classroom. We had no idea that our younger son, Tyler, had vision issues until we went to the optometrist last year. That's when we learned he has poor vision in his right eye. Because we made the visit, we were able to get him reading glasses and he didn't miss a beat in school.

Adjust sleep patterns early before you get to the first day of school. If your family is at all like mine, you let your children stay up a little longer during the summer break. Because daylight lasts longer and less there's less of a need for concentration during the summer, bedtimes tend to slide.

But as we move closer to school's opening day, it's important to move the sleep schedule back to a more appropriate pattern. That means going to bed earlier and waking up at the same time every morning. Getting a rhythm down now will make things a lot easier when school time actually comes.

Finally, I know many people spend summertime eating worse than they do the rest of the year. Between baseball games and barbecues, healthy eating seems to take a back seat; but kids need proper nutrition once school starts. Look at the USDA's food guide to model your child's intake; that most likely means it's time to increase fruit and vegetable consumption.


Try this super simple Cajun, grilled tuna steak. In full disclosure, I don't care for tuna and I would probably not like this, but my wife makes this for herself and absolutely loves it. Start with an eight-ounce tuna steak brushed with olive oil. Powder with lemon pepper and Cajun seasoning and cook on your grill until it suites your preference (about two to three minutes per side). Pair with grilled asparagus and brown rice and enjoy.

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