In the third of this ongoing series of blog posts for HSC Parents, we will continue to discuss strategies you can implement to improve your child’s physical well-being. In the first post, found here, we looked at the role of sleep in your child’s life, and how important it is to maintain an appropriate routine to ensure that your child’s body recovers and recharges. In the second post, accessible here, we looked looking at the role of nutrition in stimulating successful studying. In today’s post, we will discuss the ways you can encourage your child to engage in some physical activity and leisure time to stimulate adequate rest to enhance cognitive function.
It’s essential that your child engages in some sort of physical activity during their HSC year. Whether they play a team sport such as soccer or netball, or prefer individual sports such as tennis or dancing, your child needs to get out there and move! There are plenty of good reasons to be physically active – the big ones include reducing the odds of developing heart disease, stroke and diabetes. “Smaller” benefits include lowering blood pressure, preventing depression, improving sleep and mood, and reducing stress. Encourage your child to:
- Do 30 minutes physical activity each day: walking, riding a bike, running, etc.
- Join a team sport, if they can – this combines health with essential social interaction with others
- Spend time in the fresh air and in the sun
- Take time out from studying to go for a walk
- Walk to the bus-stop / station / school
Alongside physical activity is the just-as-important idea of social activity. You may think that you are doing your child a favour by reducing their social leisure time in lieu of studying, but in fact you are limiting precious interaction with friends that can combat depression and anxiety and increase general happiness and mental health. It is important for your child to:
- See their friends outside of school hours at least once a week (this is where a team sport comes in handy!)
- Put aside some time for leisure activities, whether alone or in a group
- Interact with friends in a situation that is not stressful or intimidating
- Acquire a new skill to keep the brain actively engaged outside of studying and academics
- Maintain friendships throughout the HSC year (in considering the future!)
Students who engage in regular physical and social activities outside of school-time are more likely to have higher levels of happiness and success, and lower levels of stress, depression and loneliness. Ultimately, our physical and mental well-being depends on it.